Marketing class takes on real life project



Operating as an advertising company called AdHop Creative, students in an advertising and marketing communications course launched a three week advertising campaign for web-based company MindSumo on March 24 on the Homewood campus.

MindSumo is a website that allows students to complete online challenges posted by companies in return for a cash prize. Some students are even contacted for job and internship interviews. Notable companies that have offered challenges on MindSumo include Google, Facebook and Zappos.

MindSumo, which was founded in 2011, is currently based in San Francisco, CA. The company has received funding from investors such as Voyager Capital, Google Ventures, Data Collective and StartFund. 

Senior Jay Levin-Gleba, co-coordinator of AdHop Creative, said he thinks all students, whether or not they are searching for jobs and internships, should sign up for the site.

“It’s a great way to make some extra money and there are also opportunities to connect with mentors in many different fields,” Levin-Gleba said. “A lot of times it’s difficult to really express your talent through a one-page resume and MindSumo lets students share it more clearly with potential employers.”

Operating with a budget of $2,500, the 42-person agency is divided into six departments: public relations and social media, advertising, campaign strategy and events, finance, reports and presentations and research. Each department is headed by two managers, and the entire agency is overseen by two coordinators.

AdHop Creative is looking to increase the number of MindSumo users by 1,000 as well as increase awareness of the site’s features and benefits.

The venture was pre-approved by Professor Leslie Kendrick, of the Center for Leadership Education, and MindSumo President Keaton Swett, who is a Hopkins alum.

“The difference between this class and most of the other marketing courses is that this one allows students to implement their campaign ideas using a real budget, and Hopkins students love this aspect of the course,” Kendrick said.

Senior Jasmine Wang, research co-manager, said her team surveyed 242 Hopkins students from varying grade levels, majors and ethnicities, and also conducted in-depth reviews with 11 students before the campaign began.

“The results were incorporated into basically every aspect of the campaign,” junior Zoe Longenecker-Wright, research co-manager, said.

For example, Longenecker-Wright said that the research suggested sunglasses would be a good giveaway at the events.

Also, Facebook advertisements and video commercials will be released between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., which were revealed to be peak hours for Facebook usage.

According to junior Alexis Gannaway, advertising co-manager, AdHop Creative’s three commercials include elements of humor, as research showed humor is the most effective way of conveying a message.

Junior Grant Lease, who directed and created the commercials, stated that he wanted to make an impact with the sumo suit. 

“We tried to put them in situations that accentuated that,” Lease said.

In addition to advertisements, AdHop Creative has hosted four events on campus and plans to host two more.

Students from the class, entitled “Advertising and Integrated Marketing Communications,” also represented Mindsumo at the spring career fairs, held on Feb. 6 and March 6, respectively.

Senior Makesi Paul, co-manager of the campaign strategy and events department, said it was a strange feeling to represent a company alongside official employees while he himself was a job-seeking student.

“But it was great because it put you at a place where you most could relate to students because you’re in their shoes right now,” Paul said. “You knew as a student what to say, so we were very successful in that venture.”

Paul said he and other students prepared by writing answers to potential questions, which were approved by Kendrick and Swett.

Kendrick said developing an entire campaign, communicating among groups, troubleshooting and achieving objectives for a real-world client is a “tall order” for students, but that it equips students with skills that attract employers’ interest.

“Students have said that when they interview for internships and jobs, even if they’re not going into the marketing or advertising field, this is one of the types of experiences that really stands out on their resume,” Kendrick said. 

Sophomore co-coordinator Tushar Rawal said the class also presents challenges different to other classes at Hopkins. She noted that while working at a fully functioning agency for a real-world client was stressful, it was also very rewarding.

“It’s not like other classes where you work in a silo and get graded individually,” Rawal said. “Coordinators and managers in Ad IMC have to be leaders as well as hard workers and it takes some getting used to. But that’s also the best part. The skills that all the students in this class develop by managing or working in teams are very applicable to the real world.”

Paul noted that, due to his experience thus far, he now feels much better prepared to launch a marketing campaign beyond the bounds of the Homewood campus.

“I would’ve made some of the mistakes that I would’ve made in real life here and learned from them,” Paul said. “It’s the next best thing from learning marketing [in the real world].”

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Copyright 2019