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VENTURA COUNTY REVIEW

Oxnard College PR Class Pulls In GM Award for Ad Campaign

September 10, 1996|LEO SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Armed with a budget of $2,500, a class of Oxnard College marketing students set out last September to establish an on-campus ad campaign for Todey Motor Co. of Oxnard.

The semester-long public relations effort, part of a marketing contest and internship program sponsored by General Motors Corp., culminated just after Thanksgiving in a balloon- and music-filled promotional event.

For their efforts, the 13 students, dubbed Condor Promotions, recently were awarded the General Motors Scholastic Achievement Award for excellence in public relations.

Oxnard College won the award over more than 100 colleges and universities such as Pepperdine, USC, the University of Washington and Loyola Marymount University.

"I just wanted my students to do the best they could," said Carmen Guerrero-Calderon, the class instructor. "This shows the community that our students are just as serious as those at the other two community colleges. They are very serious about learning and very serious about succeeding."

The students, enrolled in Guerrero-Calderon's "Principles of Marketing" class, were asked to develop an advertising campaign for the local Chevrolet and Geo dealer that would appeal to college students 18 to 24.

"When we held our [culminating] event we did things to specifically attract the younger students," Guerrero-Calderon said. "We had prizes, music, they could win CD players." She said the majority of Oxnard College students are in their late 20s and early 30s.

"The students learned that if you really want to target a minority group, you have to figure out how to market to their needs," she said.

Perhaps the most important lesson the students learned from the project, however, was team dynamics, Guerrero-Calderon said.

"Most of the students in the class were working adults, but most don't work in an atmosphere where they can work as a team," she said. "They had to learn patience, psychology, leadership and motivation to help everybody do their part."

Within this team concept, much of the credit for the success of Condor Promotions went to Lary Olszewski, who was responsible for attracting media attention to the campaign.

"We won the award primarily because of Lary's tenacity," Guerrero-Calderon said. "He was responsible for the media coverage and that was one of the really big points they were extremely impressed with."

The Todey promotion gained wide attention from local newspapers and radio and television stations.

"I had the impression that I was supposed to go out and get all the media attention for this promotion that was possible in Ventura County," Olszewski said. "Apparently the other schools and universities didn't get as much as I was able to get. It was perseverance."

The self-employed Olszewski buys homes, fixes them up and then resells them. He enrolled in the marketing class, he said, in hopes of learning more effective ways to advertise his homes.

Olszewski said that drumming up publicity that appealed to the multiethnic Oxnard College student body was good experience for the real world. "I got all the radio stations in the county, Spanish and English, to give us public service announcements," he said. "We definitely wanted to include the Spanish community.

"The multicultural diversity of Oxnard College was the perfect laboratory experiment," he said. "We live in a global village now. You just can't have a single marketing theme with such a universal market."

Tracy Fitt of SGRO Promo Associates, the contest sponsor, said the Condor Promotions team excelled in public relations but also presented a well-rounded publicity package.

"They did a fabulous job in implementing the program, the presentation was great, the marketing plan was effective and the promotional event itself went over very well," she said. "Small colleges sometimes have less experience, sometimes they don't have the course work that teaches them about marketing. Oxnard College did have obstacles, but they pushed them aside to do what they had to do."

Because of the amount of time students invested last year on the General Motors project, this year Oxnard College is offering a class solely for those interested in designing a public relations campaign for the company's internship program.

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