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Student Pops Out Commercial for Client

Posted Dec. 13, 2013

By Meghan Caprez
Communication Studies professor James Ponder, Ph.D., challenged his students to conduct a campaign. That was the only instruction he gave to his Communication and Influence class for its semester-long project: Conduct a campaign.

Having lived in the city her whole life, senior communication studies major Anna Hoffman knew that she wanted to conduct her campaign for a local business. She set her sights on Popped!, a popcorn store located in Acorn Alley II. Working closely with Gwen Rosenberg, the owner of the small business, Hoffman successfully completed a social media campaign.

"Being from Kent, I have a vested interest in our small businesses doing well," Hoffman said. "I researched Popped! on Facebook and Twitter and realized they weren't really reaching Kent State students. When I contacted Gwen about the project, she was a little hesitant, but opened up to the idea."

Even though Hoffman didn't have access to the store's official social media accounts, she provided suggestions and ran a "mini campaign" through her own Facebook and Twitter accounts. She asked her friends and followers to check out the Popped! social media accounts and even went around campus handing out samples of the store's popcorn to generate students interest and awareness.

"People really respond to free food," Hoffman laughed. "Sharing popcorn was really effective."

In Communication and Influence, Hoffman and her classmates were asked to write a critical analysis paper on a commercial. While watching the commercials, Hoffman realized that Popped! would benefit from a fun, interesting commercial.

With the help of electronic media production junior and long-time friend Keegan Larwin and three Kent State musical theatre majors, Hoffman directed a "Popped Addict" commercial, playing on the store's signature brown bags.

"We started thinking about the things that were distinct to Popped!, and the brown bags were just too good to pass up," Hoffman said. "We wanted to make it funny and appealing to the college audience, so we went for the 'What's in the brown bag?' joke."

Hoffman was surprised to find that non-student audiences enjoyed the commercial too. When Rosenberg was presented with the City of Kent Economic Development Achievement Award at Kent's Tree City Awards, she received several compliments for the commercial by older patrons of the store.

Overall, Hoffman said she had a great time collaborating with Popped!

"My favorite part was seeing the inside of a small business, especially a small business in Kent," Hoffman said. "The small businesses in Kent have such a community atmosphere. They barter and help each other out so they don't have to spend more money than they need to. Someone from another store would come in and be like, 'Here's the t-shirts you wanted,' and Gwen would give them popcorn to pay for it."

"Dr. Ponder is crazy for having 100-some students doing this," Hoffman added, chuckling. "It was an interesting project, and applying my campaign was pretty fun."