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A behind the scenes look at education from pre-K to college in Northeast Ohio

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

LEAF hosting session on conducting a campus visit

The Lake/Geauga Educational Assistance Foundation will hold a free informational session at 6:30 p.m. March 14.

“Conducting a Campus Visit” is designed for high school juniors and their parents. Organizers will address what questions families should ask, and whom they should talk to when visiting a college campus.

Sessions are free and will be held at the LEAF Resource Center at 8221 Auburn Road in Concord Township.

Register online at or call LEAF at 440-358-8045 to reserve a seat. Reservations are required as capacity is limited, and parents are encouraged to attend with their students.

LEAF is a nonprofit college access agency serving students of all ages with the financial aid process.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cleveland Museum of Art seeking educators for discussions

The Cleveland Museum of Art is seeking educators for discussions this month. If you're interested, fill out the Recruitment Survey for Educators. Those who participate in a discussion get a light meal and $50. Not too bad for two hours at a focus group.

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Teaching on the delicate business of Super Bowl advertising

The NFL Super Bowl, as we all know, is so much more than a game. And just as the hype and analysis start well before and continue long after, so it is with the commercials debuted during the match.
Advertisers spend millions of dollars for less than a minute of airtime during the big game, with some of the more spectacular commercials being remembered and discussed weeks or even years later.
“It’s the highlight of our industry – like the Oscars, almost. Everything builds up to the Super Bowl,” said Laura Lytle, senior account manager at McKinney-Cerne Advertising & Public Relations.
Without a doubt, the commercials are serious business – no less so for college professors, who focus on training the next generation of advertisers and business leaders.
They take it so seriously, in fact, that some have been banned from Super Bowl parties because they focus too much on the advertising.
Christine Barnes, professor of business management at Lakeland Community College, is one such person. She and her husband haven’t been to a Super Bowl party in probably a decade or more because, she wrote in an email, “I make everyone be quiet during all of the commercials.”
Barnes, as well as the other professors interviewed for Monday’s story, all said they took notes throughout the game Sunday in preparation for upcoming class discussions. They noted which commercials they liked, which appeared to miss the target audience, and which simply were unclear.
Preparation, however, started well in advance of Sunday, with Barnes asking her students to email or tweet her throughout the first quarter with their reactions to various commercials.
“It was across the board; they seemed to like a lot of the commercials,” Barnes said at halftime Sunday night.
However, she said, the automobile advertisement featuring a post-disaster scene did earn a negative review.
“One of the students did comment that he didn’t think he’d like that life too much because there were no women. He didn’t think the dog and Twinkies would be enough,” Barnes said.
Barnes assigns Super Bowl advertising assignments for all of her classes, asking students to watch at least part of the game and analyze three of the commercials. A key question she asks is whether the commercials appear to reach their target market.
“It’s not directed to me, so whether I personally like it or not is not the point. The point is who it’s directed to,” Barnes said of a commercial she personally dislikes but which appears to reach its intended demographic.
Another key question is whether the commercials actually serve the intended purpose.
“Just because a commercial is funny or shocking, that means nothing if we can’t remember what the product is the next morning. Every year when we discuss the commercials in class, there is at least one where the class really loved the commercial, but can’t remember the company or product,” Barnes said.
Robert J. Trebar, dean of the School of Business at Lake Erie College, also said he prepped his students in advance of the game, asking them which ads they were looking forward to the most. The automobile and soft drink ads topped the list, with some students also mentioning two companies that effectively branded a particular style of commercial.
Key questions, he said, are these: “What was the company that paid $3.5 million for 30 seconds hoping to accomplish? Are they trying to create awareness for a new product? … build interest among potential consumers? … create desire and urgency to have the product? … calling a customer to action … or is this strictly company image building?
Like Barnes, Trebar attempts to drive home to his students the point that some companies may try so hard to be clever and memorable in their ads that they ultimately lose sight of the product message itself.
“We’ll ask ourselves if these ads are worth it? Would I have been better off buying ten less expensive ads that hit a more targeted audience? Is this really about selling stuff? Or has it become a corporate ego-driven high-end competition for attention that won’t translate into better business results?” Trebar said in an email.
In a year that saw many ads leaked early or previewed online, Trebar also plans to ask the students how the role of social media has affected Super Bowl advertising.
“I’ll probably ask my students, given the role of social media (Facebook Twitter, etc) if the heyday of big production, expensive, one-time ads is over? A lot of experts in the field believe that this type of advertising no longer sells product. It’s just not ‘sticky’ or interactive enough for the under 35 crowd. You can see that companies are starting to realize this by linking mobile device apps to codes in the Super Bowl ads that direct viewers to sites where they can win prizes, coupons, etc., and, of course, where there is additional advertising. This way the advertiser gets more and longer exposure than just the ad itself – a good thing if you’re spending $3.5 million on 30 seconds of TV time,” Trebar wrote.
Ultimately, as clichéd as it may sound to students, it’s important for any advertiser to know the intended audience and target advertising accordingly, wrote Steven Gutierrez, assistant professor of integrated media at Lake Erie College.
And Mary Kay McManamon, professor of marketing at Lake Erie College, observed that a little experimenting doesn’t hurt. That could mean using social media tie-ins, like those Trebar described, or it could mean planning a series of shorter commercials, instead of planning one big, expensive ad.
“Two years ago (a company) did a series of 10-second spots. Very clever. Those ads topped just about every list of most recalled Super Bowl ads,” McManamon wrote in an email.
As for social media, she added later, “You remember when people would say, ‘I’m only watching the game for the commercials?’ Well, some of these games are pretty darn boring and if you’re a marketing professional and you put your commercial in the fourth quarter and the game’s a blowout in the second quarter, you’ve taken a risk.”
That’s a lot of factors for the next generation of marketing and business professionals to consider.

Rachel Jackson | | @nh_rachel