About The Gazette Search Back Issues Contact Us    
The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University May 27, 2008 | Vol. 37 No. 36
Marketing Class Is Pentagon Bound

A poster from the winning 'It's More Than a Uniform' campaign.

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

A group of Johns Hopkins undergraduates have creatively pitched their way to an audience at the Pentagon.

The 14 students in this spring's Advertising and Promotion class recently earned top honors for their integrated marketing communications campaign that promoted the U.S. Navy's Health Professions Scholarship Program. Johns Hopkins was one of seven universities picked to participate in the competition, developed in conjunction with the U.S Navy and EdVenture Partners, a firm that matches universities with real-world clients seeking to target the student market. The contest was judged by Campbell-Ewald, the Navy's Detroit-based advertising agency.

For winning the competition, EdVenture Partners presented Johns Hopkins with a Scholastic Achievement Award and a $1,000 prize. Five students from the class and the course instructor, Leslie Kendrick, will travel to the Pentagon this week to formally present the campaign to senior Navy officials, including Vice Adm. John C. Harvey, director of Navy personnel.

The students, who used the agency name HopComm, were given a $2,500 budget to inform the target audience about the Navy's program, which offers participants financial support for their medical school education.

The students were divided into departments, such as research, advertising/multimedia, public relations and events. To start, they conducted two layers of market research, a general survey followed by in-depth interviews with Johns Hopkins pre-med students.

Next, after approval by the Navy's ad agency, the students rolled out the campaign, which featured T-shirts, banners, posters, a Web site and other material that revolved around the slogan "It's more than a uniform." They also employed some "guerilla marketing" tactics, staging several on- campus events to promote the Navy's program, including one where a student donned a wearable boat.

A particularly effective aspect of the campaign, according to the judges, was an unscripted video interview with Mia Jin, a fourth-year student at the School of Medicine who is participating in the Health Professions Scholarship Program.

Capt. Cynthia Macri, a surgeon and longtime Navy recruiter who attended the final presentation, marveled at the sophistication of a campaign developed in less than a full semester.

"I was impressed by every little detail. I sat there at the presentation saying to myself, Who can do better than this? They did their market research well. They did not limit themselves to one type of advertising but developed something that would appeal to the target audience and appeal to their parents, too. It was just very creative, very impressive," Macri said.

Kendrick said that the campaign's slogan was integral to the group's success and helped pull it all together.

"Some people see a military uniform and say no. There's respect, but they say that's not for me," she said. "How do you get beyond that? You tell them this experience is a humanitarian effort and part of a medical scholarship program. The students did very well in communicating that."

Kendrick said that experiential learning like this is invaluable for students.

"It's a very unique experience, and they learn so much," she said. "They can also put on their resume that they developed a complete marketing campaign, and that their client was the U.S. Navy."

The contest's other participants were the University of Wisconsin, Madison; College of Charleston; University of Pittsburgh; University of Arkansas, Little Rock; University of Missouri, Columbia; and University Of Nebraska, Lincoln.

The Advertising and Promotion class is offered once a year through the Whiting School's W.P. Carey Program in Entrepreneurship and Management. Although the program is based in the Engineering School, its courses are open to all full-time students and can count toward a business minor.


The Gazette | The Johns Hopkins University | Suite 540 | 901 S. Bond St. | Baltimore, MD 21231 | 443-287-9900 |