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Friday April 20, 2001

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UA students get 'real life' experience in marketing

By Rachel Schick

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Money collected in class project to go toward Bobbi Olson charity

Students from the UA business college - employed this semester by a Tucson Chevrolet dealer for an internship opportunity - will present a $4,500 check to the Bobbi Olson Foundation Saturday at McKale Center.

Forty students from an Eller College of Business marketing class have been employed by O'Rielly Chevrolet, 6100 E. Broadway Blvd. The General Motors dealership has participated in the General Motors Marketing Internship (GMMI) program with the University of Arizona for several years.

The students created their own advertising agency, "Envision Advertising." Their agency's purpose was to research, design, present, execute and analyze their own promotional campaign for their clients.

O'Rielly Chevrolet entrusted the UA marketing class with a budget of $2,500 to support the project. Students had to work within this budget and decide together how the money would be used.

Students decided to donate all profits to the Bobbi Olson Foundation, a Tucson organization that raises awareness about ovarian cancer in cooperation with the Arizona Cancer Center.

Bobbi Olson, the late wife of UA basketball coach Lute Olson, was involved in many community-based events.

Ed Ackerley, an adjunct professor of marketing and media arts, said the GMMI is a way to teach students about advertising and marketing from a practitioner's point of view.

"The creative, unbridled thinking challenges students in a real life setting that no amount of lecturing or book study could accomplish," Ackerley said. "The power of 40 students thinking about the O'Rielly project, then converging to present a unified idea to the client is awesome."

Eddie Geisel, a public relations director for Envision, said the students in his marketing class were not aware they would be involved in an internship program when they enrolled.

The class received a brief overview of the internship on the first day of class and collectively decided to be involved, said Geisel, a marketing senior.

"Our class focused on the internship, but not only that," Geisel said. "We still had normal tests and covered class material. It was a whole lot of commitment and a whole lot of (extra) time."

The class divided into five collaborative departments to produce the campaign, Geisel said. Each department - public relations, finance, research, advertisement and event planning - received $500 of the budget.

"We also decided we couldn't spend anything without going through the two head directors," Geisel said. "We didn't purchase anything unless we absolutely needed it. P.R. had a big job because we had to solicit free things."

The students asked for donations to prevent spending money that could be donated to the Bobbi Olson Foundation.

"We wanted to do something good for O'Rielly and the Bobbi Olson Foundation," Geisel said. "Everybody just embraced the idea right off the bat."

The marketing students successfully stayed within budget and will be donating their surplus $1,500, as well as the $3,000 they collected from donations, Geisel said.

Geisel also said the internship was not an ordinary group project. The students had to work with the public and their personal schedules to get things done.

"You got to be able to work together as a team," he added. "Communication too is every important. Working together was one of the major learning experiences."

The 40 students will present their project on April 21 at O'Rielly Chevrolet from noon to 4 p.m. The event, themed a "Change for Cancer," will consist of various games and raffles, with proceeds benefiting the Bobbi Olson Foundation and the Arizona Cancer Center.

"It's a win-win situation for everyone," Geisel said. "Everyone is getting something out of it."