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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, July 31, 2003

Student project markets WCC

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer

KANE'OHE — Windward Community College hungered for an ad campaign to attract more students, but needed some advice.

To get it, they turned to a class of Upward Bound students, high schoolers considered unlikely to attend college but who take part in the special program to get a taste of higher education.

By the time the six-week summer program ended, the students had produced a poster, newspaper ad and radio spot intended to entice high school students to apply to WCC.

Their approach was simple: Teens like movies and Jamba Juice, so the students incorporated that knowledge into their campaign: "Thirsty for knowledge? Quench your thirst with Windward Community College and Jamba Juice."

The ad, intended for use in school newspapers, is accompanied by a coupon for Jamba Juice.

The administration liked the outcome so much they plan to use it.

"It was like having your own market focus group," said Libby Young, one of the marketing instructors for the Upward Bound students. "They're telling us honestly what we needed to know."

Some 50 Upward Bound students stayed at University of Hawai'i-Manoa dorms, attended classes at WCC in the morning, joined work-study groups in the afternoon, then went back to Manoa for activities and study hall.

The morning classes included English, learning skills, consumer economics and psychology. The students developed the marketing program during the work-study groups.

The decision to focus the students on marketing came as part of a recognition that the college needed to promote itself and would have to do some advertising for its Sept. 6 ho'olaule'a, Young said.

She and the college's graphic artist, Bonnie Beatson, put together a course for the study group, teaching them about marketing, ad design and radio spots.

The students responded with energy and creative ideas, Young said.

Kristy Westmoreland, a recent Castle High School graduate, said the project has made her rethink her career goal.

Developing ideas was exciting, working as a team rewarding and creating the product was satisfying, Westmoreland said.

"After I took this marketing class, I learned I have skills in this area," she said. "I always thought I would be a (social psychologist) but after seeing this, my heart is into this."

Westmoreland worked with a group who developed ideas to attract high school students to the campus. Other groups worked on the ad, the poster and the radio spot.

"If you want teens involved, you need to do what teens want to do, and teens are into movies and dances," she said, adding that the group also recommended that the city's popular "Sunset on the Beach" event should be held at the college.

Tom Allen, vice president for Starr Seigle Communications Inc., said he briefly viewed the newspaper ad while touring the campus this week.

"The creative execution was very professionally done," Allen said, adding that appealing to teenagers was a good idea. "I think they're focused in the right place, given their limited budget."

And as successful as the Upward Bound program proved to be for the college, it also worked for at least one student.

Westmoreland will attend WCC beginning in January.