- The Washington Times - Monday, March 28, 2005

American University students are test-driving the ad agency life. About 30 marketing students have transformed themselves into EagleEye Solutions, a full-service ad agency to create and implement a marketing campaign for the Chevrolet Cobalt.

It’s part of a program with EdVenture Partners, a Berkeley, Calif.-based private firm that teams companies and government agencies with colleges and universities across the country to help the clients reach an 18- to 25-year-old audience.

“We provide access to university campuses through students doing peer-to-peer marketing,” said Denise Fernandez, communications coordinator for EdVentures, which has partnered schools with such clients as General Motors, Honda, Citibank and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The clients pay EdVentures to be a part of the program and provide each school with a $2,500 budget.

The student-created marketing campaigns give the clients exposure to a sometimes hard-to-reach audience.

“This is a way to get in the heads of young people and raise the awareness of the Cobalt,” said Tim Thompson, local area marketing manager for Chevrolet, which introduced the compact car in December.

Eight other schools, including Loyola College in Baltimore, the University of Pittsburgh and Temple University in Philadelphia, are working on a campaign for the Cobalt this semester.

The purpose is to “position this vehicle as a youth vehicle and change the perception of Chevy as an older brand,” Ms. Fernandez said.

EagleEye, which is divided into five departments within the agency, is responsible for researching, creating, implementing and evaluating an integrated marketing campaign for the Cobalt during the spring semester.

“The goal is to increase awareness, knowledge and liking of the Cobalt,” said Mia Thysell, agency coordinator and a senior majoring in international marketing.

The theme for the campaign is “Cobalt: the College Years. The car that grows with you.”

The campaign depicts the car as a college student. For instance, the Cobalt as a freshman gains the infamous “freshman 15,” but the car has the “horsepower” to burn off the extra pounds.

The campaign will culminate at an April 7 on-campus event — like a graduation party — which will include food, prizes and giveaways for students.

The agency then will conduct research and evaluate the results of the semester-long effort.

“Everything we are doing is real,” Miss Thysell said. “It’s a real-world experience for us.”

EagleEye has created fliers and press releases and parked a Cobalt at an AU basketball game last month.

Chevrolet has met with the students twice and has been impressed with their plans.

“It’s great to see the enthusiasm,” Mr. Thompson said. “It’s not just a textbook drill.”

New wins

• The SheaHedges Group, based in McLean, has added to its client roster two technology firms: Veritas, a software company, and Transaction Network Services, a data communications firm.

Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Advertising & Marketing runs every other Monday.

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