BANGOR, Maine — Real world experience is one of the most important elements for a well-rounded education. For graduating University of Maine communications majors in the advertising sequence, that experience came in the form of a class specifically designed to put them out into the community. But to the disappointment of many in the class, this is the last time marketing students at UMaine will have this opportunity.
CMJ 459: Advertising Campaigns was targeted by administrators during the recent budget cuts and has been eliminated effective the end of the current academic year.
This semester, the course tasked the class members with creating advertising campaigns for three local businesses and three community organizations, each picked by professor Laura Lindenfeld for their connections to local food and sustainability efforts. The students presented their completed campaigns in a special event held at Luna Bar & Grill in Bangor Thursday evening. The class worked in tandem with UMaine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and the Sustainability Solutions Initiative to assemble their campaigns.
“It’s a very topical thing, the idea of eating local and knowing where your food comes from,” said Lindenfeld, who will continue to teach other courses in communications and journalism at UMaine. “It’s something I personally feel very strongly about, and it’s something that can have an impact in a very real way on your own life and in your own community.”
Ipanema Bar & Grill, the Reverend Noble Pub and Luna Bar & Grill, all downtown Bangor restaurants, the Orono Farmers’ Market and Port Clyde Fresh Catch, both Maine food purveyors, and nonprofit organization Sustainable Harvest International, were the six focuses of the students’ advertising campaigns. Ideas put forth included viral videos, new website designs, radio ads and, in the case of the restaurants, new menu designs.
The Orono Farmers’ Market operates year-round, on a twice-weekly basis in the summer and every other week in the winter. Students created ads with the purpose of informing the public of the schedule. They also developed ads designed to encourage local people to use the market as they would a grocery store, but instead of buying produce and meat shipped in from far away, it’s grown and processed right here in Maine.
Similar ideas were suggested for Sustainable Harvest International and Port Clyde Fresh Catch — the former an organization devoted to worldwide sustainable farming, the latter a business that sells seafood directly from Maine fishermen to the consumer.
“We teach people in countries like Belize and Honduras to farm for themselves, instead of slashing and burning the rainforest,” said Mary Anne Pearlman, founder of the Surry-based Sustainable Harvest International. “This will be very helpful in just getting the word out about what we do. The viral video they put together in particular is really important.”
The class caps the end of college for the seniors that comprise the class, who will graduate today. Charlie Suter, 24, saw it as an exciting ending to his UMaine career — but found it to be bittersweet as well, as the advertising program was one of the many academic divisions that fell under the axe of UMaine’s recent budget cuts. Advertising and public affairs were among the first programs cut back in September 2009. About 60 students participated in the advertising major.
Suter credited Lindenfeld with making the class a worthwhile learning experience, but wondered what other UMaine students with an interest in pursuing a career in advertising will do without a way to learn the trade.
“Laura is an amazing professor, and she gives us room to work by ourselves and go through the whole process on our own,” said Suter. “I’m really disappointed that this class and this major kind of flew under the radar in the midst of all the other program cuts. I’m going to be sending out resumes for a major that no longer exists. What are the students that want to do this for a career going to do?”
Class member Dylan Post put all his advertising knowledge garnered during his time at UMaine to use during the semester.
“This was an opportunity to sit down with a group and compile all that knowledge we’ve accumulated into a useful format,” said Post. “It’s the only class I’ve had that gave me that opportunity in a real world scenario. I think that’s a really valuable experience.”
Post, 24, is in a unique position, because he’s not only a graduating senior at UMaine — he’s also a co-owner of Luna Bar & Grill. The campaign he and his fellow students came up with for his business already is being put to use.
“We will absolutely use this stuff,” said Post. “We’re already using the website, and the TV ad we storyboarded will be filmed in the fall. It’s very useful.”