BANGOR, Maine — Marketing students at the New England School of Communications on Sunday will jet to the City of Angels to pitch their media plan for Honda’s new hybrid sports car, the CR-Z.
The college is one of three in the nation chosen to make presentations to company executives, public relations experts and journalists in Los Angeles.
The finalists were chosen from 10 semifinalists, which also included a group of students from the University of Southern Maine in Portland. The other finalists are from Syracuse University and the University of La Verne in La Verne, Calif.
Members of the finalist teams will be given virtual internships for the spring 2011 semester. The first-place team will attend a promotional event at a major metropolitan city in April.
The challenge from American Honda Motor Co. Inc. was to create a six-week campaign using social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr to promote the company’s first hybrid sports car. NESCom students in Nancy Roberts’ marketing class created a spokesman, C.R. Zazzy, to represent the product.
Zazzy — as portrayed by student Bryan Lackee, 22, of Oxford Hills — is one of the reasons the media campaign created by Ally Booker, Beth Churchill and Kristen Sprague made it to the finals.
“Our idea was to create a spokesperson to embody how much passion a person could have for this car,” Churchill, 19, of Corinth said last month. “We wanted to have all the social media used by our generation under his persona, and we wanted the car’s name to be part of the character’s name.”
Because one of the criteria on which the winner will be chosen is the number of people the campaign reaches, “Zazzy” and other NESCom students have taken the car to events where they knew there would be large crowds.
“Zazzy” showed off his car at homecoming and a concert at the University of Maine. Students dressed as zombies and took the CR-Z to Fright at the Fort, a Halloween event at Fort Knox in Prospect. Everywhere the car went, students caught people’s reactions on video, which was edited and posted on a campaign-specific website.
Participation in the campaign’s execution has extended beyond Roberts’ class to other NESCom students studying video production, Web media and photography, the teacher said. The campaign also has given her students experience in marketing.
“The campaign showed everyone that when it comes down to it, NESCom is one big family that gets the job done,” Lackee said Wednesday. “This is a major accomplishment for NESCom and myself that really pinpoints what we are all capable of.”
Booker, 20, of Bradford said she felt “blessed with this opportunity.”
“At first our plan seemed so small,” she said, “but over the course of six weeks and with the help and support of our classmates, instructors, community, friends and family, C.R. Zazzy became a local celebrity, and his car became well-known. That was our goal.”
Sprague, 21, of Glenburn said she was “very confident in our work and our abilities” as the team heads west next week.
The NESCom group is scheduled to make its presentation Tuesday, according to Roberts.
The judges in Los Angeles will include Steven Center, vice president of national marketing operations, Kurt Antonius, assistant vice president for public relations and Alicia Jones, assistant manager of social media, all from Honda; Ron Hartwig, vice president of communications for the J. Paul Getty Trust; and Jerry Swirling, director of public relations studies, Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California.