Southeast Students Marrying Creativity, Industry Knowledge in Ad Campaigns for Magnolias Bridal Boutique

Southeast Missouri State University advertising students are taking an in-depth look this spring at the multi-million-dollar wedding industry, and they’re learning there’s more to saying “yes to the dress” than what meets the eye.

The students are helping launch an advertising campaign for Magnolias Bridal Boutique, 407 Broadway in downtown Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The Bridal Boutique that opened its doors in January 2016 offers select gowns and accessories from the industry’s top bridal designers and is known for its signature #popthesparkle moment when the bride-to-be selects her dream gown.

Understanding the business is at the heart of the real-life learning opportunity offered in the Department of Mass Media’s ad campaigns course. Through the Old Town Cape Media Grant Project, a partnership between Old Town Cape, KFVS12 and River Radio, the students develop, pitch, and assist in producing and executing an advertising campaign for a retail member of Old Town Cape.

The project allows students to put into action the knowledge they’ve gained in the classroom with real industry money and a real client, said Michael Simmons, Southeast instructor of mass media.

“The is an amazing educational opportunity for students to take a project from start to finish and to do all the legwork in between,” he said. “It also develops them professionally and can show a potential employer that they’ve done and applied real work with a budget in the marketplace.”

As part of the project, students are organized into teams of three to four. Each team meets the client and researches their business, competition and customers. Their final campaign includes a television commercial idea and script, radio commercial script and social media plan.

Communication between each team and the client is key, Simmons said.

“One of the students’ responsibilities as part of their campaign is to present their client’s personality to their customers,” he said. “They have to deeply understand every aspect of their client and their business, and the only way to do that is to be in their environment – visit their space, meet the customers, and maintain communication with the client to acknowledge their objectives in their work.”

Their client communication and research help the teams define problems and solutions, develop strategies, and craft creative messages and delivery tactics that will help the client fulfill their business objectives, Simmons said.

This project in an opportunity to immerse herself in the world of advertising before graduating, said Andie Hawkins, a senior mass communication: advertising option major, with minors in graphic communication technology and marketing management of O’Fallon, Missouri.

“You get to know your client, see how they work and what they want,” said Hawkins.

Hawkins, who enjoys the opportunity to work for a business that is appealing to her age demographic, feels her team can personally identify with Clements’ objective.

“We’re literally her target audience, and we can bring key insights into making a plan,” she said.

For Renee Clements, owner of Magnolias Bridal Boutique, the students’ campaigns are an opportunity to increase her customer base and overall business value.

The experience has been very rewarding, and she says she is impressed with the students’ advertising skills and knowledge.

“The interaction with the students provides a fresh perspective and re-energizes our marketing and advertising efforts,” she said. “It has allowed for us as a business to step outside of the box and explore new ideas and perspectives that are extremely beneficial moving forward in our advertising efforts.”

After months of research, preparation and designing, the student teams’ campaigns are presented next month to a panel of professionals that includes the client and representatives from Old Town Cape, KFVS12, River Radio, and Southeast faculty and staff.

“We are looking forward to learning more about the students’ perspective about the opportunities we have as a business and how we can better articulate our brand,” Clements said, “as well as to see how implementing their ideas reflects in the growth and development of our business.”

In the past, clients have used significant elements of the students’ campaigns, usually drawing on all the teams’ books and choosing the parts they like best from each, to build an advertising campaign with the media partners, Simmons said.

The prospect of having their work published is a confidence boost and career builder.

“You’ve just got to give it your best,” said Alexa Hoffman, a senior mass communication: advertising option major and integrated marketing communication minor of St. Clair, Missouri. “It will be really interesting to see what she does with our projects, and hopefully I’ll get to see some of our work and ideas used.”