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By Mackenzie Riley, Eller Marketing ’14 

As part of their "promotion with commotion" on the UA mall, Marketing 452 students made a mini-streetcar from which they made announcements.

As part of their “promotion with commotion” on the UA mall, Marketing 452 students made a mini-streetcar from which they made announcements.

This spring, Dr. Ed Ackerley’s Integrated Marketing Communications class took on the semester-long task of marketing the Sun Link modern streetcar to students. Nearly 70 students collaborated with professionals from around the city and University, including Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and UA Athletic Director Greg Byrne, to create a comprehensive campaign.

The students formed an ad agency with divisions including operations and public relations and dove into the work. The streetcar project is part of the $2.1 billion Regional Transportation Plan approved by Pima County voters in May 2006. After years of buzz, witnessing construction, and seeing the cars conduct test runs, it will finally be open to the public in late July.

A clear target market for this new mode of transportation is the University of Arizona student. Although there isn’t a sellable product yet, the class aimed to gather feedback on where the product is positioned in the mind of these important consumers and determine how to spread awareness to the student body.

The class conducted hundreds of surveys in the hopes of better gauging students’ current knowledge and determining how to reach this target market. Understanding that the hub of the student body is the University Mall, the class then came up with an interactive promotional plan that they called the “Sun Link Sunsation,” a summer kick-off themed promotional event.

On April 15th, the entire class took to the mall with a dunk tank, plenty of summer decorations, pizza, cookies, and cups filled with Sun Link information. Classmates distributed these items to passing students who were then encouraged, in exchange for freebies, to “Like” the Tucson Modern Streetcar Facebook page. “In the entirety of our campaign, we reached over 4,000 students! On top of that, the Facebook page received over 120 additional likes,” explained Amy DesGeorges.

Following this successful event, the class presented their semester-long efforts to the city leaders involved. Everything from their survey results to their total reach impressed attendees.

Mayor Rothschild was among the crowd. “I want to thank the Marketing 452 class for putting the time in to raise awareness of the Modern Streetcar in the community,” he said. “We’re looking forward to continuing to work with Eller students as we get ready to sell passes and position the project in the right light, because I want every UA student to be riding the Streetcar!”

Top image of the Sun Link streetcar maintenance building courtesy of the City of Tucson.