College Marketing Department Collaborates with Students & Faculty to Make Commercials
Who better to take on the challenge of creating 30-second television commercials promoting Columbia State Community College than students themselves?
When an institution offers more than 50 areas of study, including general transfer emphasis Associate of Art and Associate of Science degrees, along with Associate of Applied Science career entry programs, career certificate programs and regents online degree programs at five locations in Middle Tennessee, serving nine counties, providing more than $10 million of financial aid each year and doing it all at a portion of the cost of four year universities – it’s tough to make television commercials without leaving out any key message points. Not to mention doing high-quality ads with a limited budget.
“Chasing the elusive 16-21 year-old demographic requires an attention-grabbing spot, and showing non-traditional students how they can further their education is an all-together different challenge,” said Paul Hickey, director of marketing and public relations at Columbia State. “Going to college is not a decision to be taken lightly in one’s life. So we needed to find a balance between just being creative and dynamic – and showing who we are and how we can help folks reach their goals. Fortunately our Film Crew Technology students were able to help us accomplish just that with these ads.”
Not only that, but the students also used the RED Camera System, which is replacing motion picture film, and is virtually unanimously considered the most cutting edge technology in the film industry today.
“Thanks to some help from industry veteran and friend of the program Bret Weeks, our students have all been trained on and operated the camera that has replaced the ‘Holy Grail’ of the motion picture industry,” said Read Ridley, director of film crew technology at Columbia State – based out of the Williamson County Campus. “Nobody ever thought anything like the RED Camera would exist – and now our students are some of the first to use it.”
After coming up with several concepts and ideas for the commercials, the film crew students worked with the school’s marketing department to conduct focus groups with current students, faculty and staff, and even some current high school students, prior to deciding on which direction to go creatively.
The next step was to cast for the spots, and more than 50 students, faculty staff and community members from Franklin and Columbia showed up to audition for the roles of mother, father, son and daughter in a traditional ad targeting current high school students, and a non-traditional ad targeting adults who are looking to further their education or start a new career.
“We were extremely impressed with the amount of support we received. In the end, we casted two current students, a possible future student, and a few other very talented actors from the Columbia and Franklin areas,” added Hickey. “This became much more than just filming a television ad – it was a natural way for community members to check out our campuses and interact with our students, faculty and staff to learn more about us.”
Third semester Columbia State Nursing student Marcelena Owens, who takes the bulk of her classes at the Williamson County Campus, was cast as the role of mother in the non-traditional spots. She donated her time on shoot day, but brought books with her to study for her psychology final exam in between sets. “I gained a whole new appreciation for actors. I was really conscious of how to hold my body and deliver my lines without looking into the camera. Overall it was a lot of fun, and the film crew students were very professional and did a great job.”
Williamson County Campus mass communications student Brian Bowie was cast as the son in the non-traditional advertisement. “This was very exciting. It was my first time doing any kind of acting, and it was an excellent experience. I would definitely do this again if I get the chance. I have to say that I was also very impressed with the film crew guys. They were very professional. It’s very cool going to a college where one day you’re sitting in class working on an end-of-semester project, and the next day you have an opportunity to star in a TV commercial promoting the school.”
Actor Dave Chattam of Nashville played father role in the non-traditional ad. “I’ve worked on some really big projects before, and production-value wise – this was very impressive. All of the Columbia State students were very good at the tasks they performed, and were very professional. It’s obvious that this program has given them the experience to walk right into the industry and find jobs.”
The spots will air on local networks and cable during the months of June, July and August, and the Film Crew Technology program is currently accepting applications.