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By Kassandra Kirk, Marketing ’16 

I started my senior year at the University of Arizona taking “MKTG 425 Advertising Management,” an Eller College of Management course in which students learn how to develop and manage advertising communications and campaigns. I walked into the class thinking it would be like your average lecture, but I soon came to learn that the class would be nothing like that.

Led by Edward Ackerley of the Eller College, the class is actually run like an advertising agency, with students elected to serve as leads and directors of advertising, public relations, research, finance and operations.

For the first few weeks, I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to serve as a leader. Why make more work for myself? But I found that the course ultimately drove my passion for advertising even further, leading me to pursue the student director position.

This fall, the class is structured around the Acura ILX Marketing Challenge, hosted by EdVenture. The company hosts the national advertising competition every semester, and this semester it has students across the nation — including those at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan — working on a campaign for the 2017 Acura ILX.

Our class of 33 students has worked to create an entire marketing campaign for the Acura ILX and my job, as student director, has been to make sure everything is aligned with the goals of the company. I also work to ensure that all students involved are participating and ensuring that our message and slogan of “Go Acura” is cohesive and consistent across the campaign. Our main goal was to increase the vision of Acura as a high-performance vehicle targeted toward millennials.

As a team, we have been involved in other marketing campaigns, too.

The first campaign involved promotion of a children’s book, “A Very Special Spring: A Story of a Teacher, Her Class and Coping With Cancer” by Jan Cesar. This heartfelt book is based on the true story of an elementary school teacher who became ill with cancer, and it was written to assist children who have loved ones dealing with cancer.

The campaign goal for that project was to get donations to purchase books for libraries, schools and hospitals. We promoted the book during events and online, and also held readings at elementary schools. At the campaign’s end, we had raised enough money to purchase 180 books, which have been delivered to more than 15 locations, including Diamond Children’s Medical Center, Make Way for Books, Woods Memorial Library and several Tucson-area elementary schools.

This campaign motivated me to step up to help direct another, smaller campaign involving Hughes Federal Credit Union.

In partnership, and with a $2,000 budget from the credit union, we researched which benefits students considered as the most important — as well as others they would like to have — from a credit union. We conducted a survey that resulted in more than 700 responses. The results suggested that Hughes create a package just for students, which would include no monthly fees and also provide discounts at local stores, among other member benefits.

The most extensive and involved campaign this semester has been the EdVenture competition. In November, we held an event at La Encantada to raise awareness of the car and our campaign. We will present our final project on Acura this week. If we are one of the top three finalists, our group will be flown to California to present our campaign.

Overall, this has been one of the most involved and most inspiring classes I have ever taken. It has given me real-life experience and knowledge that I know I will use in my future employment.

Originally from Orange County, California, where she graduated from Tesoro High School, Kassandra Kirk is a senior in the UA Eller College of Management. She is graduating in December with a marketing degree and a minor in global business. Kirk also is a member of Alpha Phi. After graduation, she aspires to work in a full-service marketing agency.