Class creates ads for IU’s voter turnout campaign
Advertisements created by students in a Media School class will power IU’s voter turnout campaign this fall.
Professor of practice Bill Schwab’s Advertising Portfolio class partnered with the provost’s office, the Office of Student Affairs and the Political and Civic Engagement program this semester to create deliverables for IU to use in the Big Ten Voting Challenge for November’s midterm elections.
The Big Ten Voting Challenge is a competition among conference schools to encourage student engagement in elections. Schools try to win in two categories: having the most increased student voter turnout and having the overall highest percentage of student voters. PACE Director Lisa-Marie Napoli said the challenge aims to increase the number of voters at all Big Ten schools, so it is a collaboration as well as a competition.
Schwab said advertising is all about creating persuasive arguments, so this project relied on students finding ways to persuade their audience to participate in democracy.
“We’re using research that we have been provided with to identify wants and needs that voting might help satisfy for our target audience: students,” Schwab said.
The class worked closely with the three partners throughout the semester. Schwab said representatives from each of the groups met with the students early in the process to help identify target audiences and set reasonable goals.
Napoli said she was impressed by the way the students in the class took her and the other representatives’ feedback and refined their campaigns to fit the partners’ needs. She also said she enjoyed seeing the ideas students came up with to promote democracy.
“They just had so many different creative angles that they took in creating the material, so it was helpful and fun and really quite engaging to see what they came up with,” Napoli said.
Schwab divided the class into groups of four students who worked as a team to develop campaigns to encourage students to vote. Junior Abby Carmichael created three different campaigns with her team. Carmichael said most teams only made one campaign, but her group liked all their ideas so much that they made campaigns for all of them.
Carmichael said the provost’s office is planning to use a combination of materials from several different campaigns the students made, including one of her team’s campaigns. The campaign is called “My First Time” and compares someone voting for the first time to someone losing their virginity.
Carmichael said she enjoyed the class, and it made her consider a career in advertising more seriously.
“I feel like working with other people and working with our professor is just a very eye-opening experience,” Carmichael said. “I found that I actually really liked the competitive and collaborative side.”
Schwab said working on an actual advertising campaign gives his students experience they would not receive from working on a hypothetical campaign.
“They get to actually present their work to the partners and judge their reaction,” Schwab said. “And then selected work will be actually produced and move out into various media channels throughout the IU community, so students can judge the effectiveness of that work by actually seeing it out in the real world and getting responses from other students.”
Schwab also said he liked that the project allowed students to create advertising campaigns around a cause that would improve the community.
“They’re actually applying the theoretical knowledge we discuss in the classroom to solving real-world problems,” Schwab said. “So that’s exciting and gratifying for me, and I hope it is for the students as well.”