Category: Marketing

Marketing Undergrads Kick Off Promotional Video Project









The VCU School of Business Department of Marketing is pleased to announce the kickoff of a promotional video project that will be conceptualized, planned, and executed by three undergraduate marketing students.

The video project is funded through the School of Business’ EPIC initiative. The three students, Sydney Weise, Wilson Tolbert, and Jacob Belvin, won the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with VCU University Relations on this project by winning a pitch competition amongst a pool of other marketing students.

The students will work through the end of May on the project and the promotional video will debut for the Department of Marketing in early June 2017.

Professor Don Just named to Virginia Communications Hall of Fame

don just va communications hall of fameDon Just started at the top in the advertising industry when, in 1982, he moved from serving as the president of a large bank to become president and CEO of The Martin Agency, a small local shop. For the next 10 years, Just guided Martin’s rapid growth, making it one of the most recognized agencies in the country.  As an advertising executive with a Darden School MBA in finance, Just provided a unique perspective to such clients as Maserati, Bank One, Pet Inc., Borden’s, Wrangler, GM, Marriott, FMC Corporation, ITT, Ethyl, USWest and Cendant Corporation. After negotiating the sale of Martin to a large New York agency, Just left the company and subsequently funded and directed a number of successful entrepreneurial ventures. He currently serves as professor of creative brand management at the internationally acclaimed Brandcenter, part of the VCU School of Business.

Just is one of seven distinguished Virginia media professionals who will be honored at the 2016 Virginia Communications Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The April 7 event is the 29th Hall of Fame ceremony to honor significant achievements in the fields of Virginia media.

The Virginia Communications Hall of Fame recognizes communication professionals with exceptional careers in advertising, journalism, public relations and other media fields. The newest class of inductees will bring the total number of this elite group to 165. Larry Sabato, political scientist and analyst, author, professor and founder of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, will serve as master of ceremonies at the induction ceremony this year.

“As the proud host of this important annual communication event in Virginia, the Robertson School is very happy and excited to see these seven outstanding media professionals in the commonwealth inducted into the Hall of Fame,” said Hong Cheng, Ph.D., director of the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture in the College of Humanities and Sciences. “They are all inspirational role models in our field.”

See the full list

Passing of Randy Wooton

The School of Business is saddened by the loss of Mr. Randy Wootton, adjunct instructor for the Department of Marketing. According to Department Chair Dr. Mike Little:
He was a valued member of the VCU Marketing Department teaching faculty this past couple of years; we will miss the enthusiasm that he brought to his classes in marketing and sales.  Although Randy had taught with the department only a short while, he gained the respect of those he worked with and the admiration of his students.
Randy taught both Marketing Principles and, more recently, the sales course for the department. Our program also benefited from his extensive corporate experience in sales, marketing and branding with such firms as Procter and Gamble, Hertz and CPC International. He received his MBA from Columbia University Business School and undergraduate degree in business from Washington and Lee University.
Randy and his wife Susan moved to Richmond three years ago from Atlanta to spend more time with their daughter and grandchildren.  He had expressed an interest in teaching at VCU after doing so with Georgia State University. A service for Mr. Wootton is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on Sunday at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church (Grove and Three Chopt Rd.).
More information is available in the Richmond Times Dispatch

Ice cream bike stirs up excitement for new School of Business vision

Isaiah Harvin, a sophomore marketing major, pedals the VCU School of Business ice cream bike during the Business Organizations and Student Services Fair. The stationary bike powers an old-fashioned ice cream machine.

Just like the professional cyclists scoping out the roads through the Monroe Park Campus ahead of the UCI Road World Championships, Isaiah Harvin was pushing pedals on Wednesday.

But he wasn’t going anywhere in a hurry — or at all. Harvin was among the students, faculty and leadership helping to stir up excitement for the new School of Business strategic vision by testing out a new ice cream bike.

This stationary bike harnesses pedal power to crank an old-fashioned ice cream machine, mounted on a rack in front of the handlebars. Starting with cream, sugar, salt and ice cubes, after about 45 minutes of hard work there was plenty of ice cream to share.

You won’t find that feature on the high-tech, carbon fiber cycles favored by the elite cyclists in the UCI road races.

We’re going to be leveraging what Richmond is about, what VCU is about and what we’re about.

“We’ve got the UCI bike race next week, and people like ice cream,” said Ken Kahn, Ph.D., senior associate dean in the School of Business. Snead Hall was packed with students on Wednesday for the Business Organizations and Student Services Fair, where the bike drew plenty of taste-testers and more than a few riders.

“As part of that [event] we are introducing students to our new strategic vision: to ‘drive the future of business through the power of creativity,’” Kahn said while taking a turn on the wheel.

“We’re going to be leveraging what Richmond is about, what VCU is about and what we’re about to really show that the School of Business is about doing things purposefully as well as creatively,” he said. “Creativity is an important theme in Richmond, and we believe we have the faculty and the curricula to differentiate ourselves about business and creativity.”

Carolina Romero, a senior marketing major, teamed with other students earlier in the week to churn a batch.

“We all took a turn on this bike to churn the ice cream. I think it took about 35 minutes, and riders switched out every five minutes or so to keep it going,” Romero said.

“It gets more and more difficult to churn as time goes by, but it was really, really fun. To see the product come out really made it all worth it. I hope I see the bike around campus more often.”

Claire Calise, assistant director of student and corporate engagement, also did her part spinning some ice cream.

“I love anything that’s interactive. This is something that students have never seen,” she said. The bike “includes them in how our strategic plan is unfolding,” Calise added. Further engagement of students, alumni and the business community will happen via an online survey, and the full strategic plan will be rolled out later in the school year.

Harvin, a sophomore marketing major, enjoyed his spin.

“Having the new motto and throwing in the bike and the ice cream was a really great way to show creativity,” he said.

The idea to have something special to mark the UCI championships came about in a faculty learning community.

“They wanted to have a stationary bike in the atrium for the bike race. The ice cream bike was found talking with some people in Richmond. We decided to go with the more interesting bike,” Kahn said. “It brings a new meaning to miles per gallon.”


Clinique VP shares personal and professional insights with marketing class


Clinique VP shares personal and professional insights with marketing class

Shares how company humanized the iconic brand

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Rachel Hargis, a junior in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business, plans to join the Peace Corps after graduating. But as recently as last week, uncertainty followed her. Would this decision set her back in her career?

Then, a guest speaker in her marketing class allayed any misgivings she may have had about her choice.

There’s no such thing as a bad choice as long as you learn something from it, said Cara Robinson, vice president of global marketing, makeup and fragrance for Clinique. Assistant professor Brian Brown, Ph.D., whose marketing class hosted Robinson on April 9, said inviting the business community to share these types of insights is crucial for students.

“The benefit of guest speakers is the real-world aspect that they can bring into the classroom,” Brown said. “I know that sounds a little cliche — ‘real world’ — and it’s a little bit overused, but it’s one thing for me to cover certain topics and content in the classroom via textbook. It’s a whole other matter to have someone that’s actually doing it or has experienced the particular marketing concepts and strategic concepts to come into a classroom and describe it.”

But perhaps even more memorable than the marketing and business topics is the career and personal experiences guest speakers bring, Brown said.

For instance, Robinson spoke of the path she followed after receiving her bachelor’s degree — in Spanish. She spent a year teaching in Puerto Rico before returning to the states to pursue her MBA. But rather than regretting her time not spent in business, Robinson appreciates how living in Puerto Rico increased her understanding of other cultures — a huge asset in her work with global marketing.

“It was really awesome to hear how she went to Puerto Rico and how she took her skill set that she learned there and applied it to the real world and applied it to her job when she came back,” Hargis said. “So I think that it’s very encouraging that now that I want to go to the Peace Corps, when I come back I know that I’m going to be able to use what I learned there.”

Other students, such as senior Jarvia Hardley, found Robinson’s journey — earning a Spanish degree before her MBA in brand management — personally interesting as well.

“It’s not like, when you come to school you must do X, Y and Z,” he said. “You can kind of throw your way into things, which is what she did and she turned out to be very successful. So that’s very empowering especially to me. … Having guest speakers like today is really giving me a real-world perspective on the world of marketing.”

The benefits of guests from the business world talking with students run both ways.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 4.21.02 PM

“Millennials are the lifeblood of our brand — and almost every brand out there — so we want to know what you think,” Robinson told the class.

Robinson described the cosmetic company’s fascinating beginning in the 1960s, when people thought you had to be born with great skin. After reading a Vogue interview with a dermatologist who practiced ‘custom-fit’ skin care, the Lauder family decided to create a brand — Clinique — built on this philosophy. Clinique launched with a three-step process: cleansing, exfoliating and moisturizing, becoming one of the pillars of The Estée Lauder Cos.

“When we launched, we had one soap, four clarifying lotions and one moisturizer,” Robinson said. “In almost 50 years or so, we now have maybe 12 different soaps. It took until the 2000s to come up with a liquid soap. That’s how sacred the system is.”

But while the system works, after half a century, the company faced a marketing problem — the younger generation considered Clinique a high-end product that their mothers and grandmothers used.

C“What we wanted to do was evolve from being a product icon to a brand icon,” Robinson said. “We wanted people to have a connection, a relationship with Clinique the brand, not the individual products that Clinique has.

“Our mission was to humanize our iconic brand.”

That started with targeting younger consumers with a digital campaign, rather than print, and the hashtag #startbetter.

“A big struggle that brands have in all spaces, but in beauty in particular: We’re all promising the same thing,” she said. “We’re all developing lipsticks and moisturizers and hair products, so how do we distinguish ourselves? It’s not like detergent, or my lipstick is more red than another lipstick. So you have to find a different way to connect and it is on an emotional level.”

After watching a Clinique video featuring #startbetter, students reacted positively, noting the ad was about reinvention, positivity and optimism — about creating a feeling rather than focusing on a product. One called it empowering, while another said wearing the Clinique brand is not about doing it for other people but doing it for yourself; it’s about yourself and how you’re feeling, rather than about how you look.

More than just learning about the Clinique brand, hearing the connection that a professional marketer has with her campaign captivated students.

“I love the strategic aspect of [marketing] and I like planning things out and positioning and that sort of thing,” said sophomore John Kane. “This lecture was very, very informative. Just getting to hear the real connection that a professional marketer has with the campaign that they did, being able to see a campaign that they did and then having the reasoning behind each part explained.”


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Ford C3 Grant and Springboard VCU connect East and West Ends through Green Ride RVA Trolley

The Green Ride Trolley picked up residents from 31st Street Baptist Church, New Light Baptist Church, and Mount Carmel Baptist Church.
The Green Ride Trolley picked up residents from 31st Street Baptist Church, New Light Baptist Church, and Mount Carmel Baptist Church.

After more than a year of preparation, students, faculty and local business partners have finally had their vision of providing the Churchill district a new way to access grocery stores and shopping districts which are lacking in Richmond’s East End.

After receiving the coveted $25,000 Ford College Community Challenge grant two years in a row, members of the student organization Springboard VCU finally had their most recent project, Green Ride RVA realized.

The goal of the grant; creating sustainable communities and transportation by addressing critical concerns in recipients’ home cities. Observing the problem of ‘Food Deserts,’ districts more than two miles away from any grocery store, Springboard VCU choose to connect the underserved neighborhoods of East Richmond.

“We’ve had a lot of people be very receptive to the idea of this,” said Springboard coordinator Jamie Krzos. “A lot of people in certain areas of Churchill don’t have cars. I spoke with one gentlemen in the neighborhood and he said this is something they really need.”

Much of the Churchill neighborhood, East Richmond and South of the river is designated as Food deserts by different local charities and state agencies. The few corner stores and mini-marts in the area often fail to provide fresh produce and sell much of their products at rates much higher than typical grocery stores.

Referencing the man Krzos spoke to early during the development stages of the project, residents are often stuck paying exorbitant prices for basic necessities.

“He told me he once got cereal and diapers and it cost $20 dollars,” Krzos said.

Claudette Miles, a Churchill resident of over twenty years, rode the trolley on the last day of operation in December. She said she’s experienced similar difficulties finding affordable groceries and regularly faces complications acquiring groceries when she rides GRTC buses to city grocery stores.

“Sometimes the bus is packed, and people have their own bags and luggage,” Miles said. “It can be hard to find somewhere to even sit.”

Recognizing this issue, the group has started to address this issue directly.

Federal Reality Investment Trust, which owns Willow Law, partnered with Springboard to allow the trolley line access to the sprawling shopping center in West End.
Federal Reality Investment Trust, which owns Willow Law, partnered with Springboard to allow the trolley line access to the sprawling shopping center in West End.

For the Green Ride’s pilot program, the organization enlisted the support of RVA Trolley to run a trolley car line from multiple points in Churchill to the Willow Lawn shopping center located in Richmond’s West End during the Black Friday weekend and first weekend of December.

Project adviser and Marketing professor Van Wood said Ford Motor Co. executives have been interested in philanthropy and community engagement the last decade. Founded in 2008, the Ford C3 grant has awarded over $1.6 million since its inception. Each year, eight universities in the country receive the grant to support their respective communities.

Former Ford president and CEO William Clay Ford has claimed over the years that, transportation is, “a basic human right,” according to Wood.

“In our modern globalized world, if you don’t have access to transportation, you don’t have access to opportunity,” Wood said. “If you can’t drive to work or drive to get groceries or have social interaction, you’re kind of left out of society.”

Wood said the grant affords communities across the world to learn from each universities’ projects, having the financial backing and expansive professional network of Ford. While the purveyors of the grant consider it beneficial on a global scale, it undoubtedly strengthens local communities by uniting more than just a university and its surrounding neighborhoods.

Helping to secure the grant was the Steward School, a private K-12 college preparatory school located in Henrico county. Involving the students in the middle and upper school, younger students have also had an opportunity to learn about creating sustainable transportation in Richmond.

In the weeks leading up to the pilot runs of Green Ride, project adviser and resident executive in the VCU School of Business Department of Supply Chain Management and Analytics , David Berdish, lectured students from both Steward School and Project Springboard. Throughout both weekends of the trolley run, students from Steward volunteered their time to help manage pickup points as well.

Students from the Steward School greeted and directed trolley users throughout both weekends of its run.
Students from the Steward School greeted and directed trolley users throughout both weekends of its run.

“A huge part of what we do is stewardship and helping the community,” said Steward School instructor Cary Jamieson. “It’s an exciting time now that the project has become real. Our students are excited for what they can do as we move forward.”

Jamieson is currently the director of the Bryan Innovation Lab at the Steward School and previously worked as the program coordinator of the Environmental Stewardship and Sustainable Design program at the University of Richmond. Serving as director for the lab and with her previous experience, Jamieson has worked directly in planning Green Ride and other programs related to the Ford grant.

Last year, members of Springboard developed the Tricycle Gardens’ Healthy Corner Store initiative to address the need for reasonably priced healthy produce in East End market stores.

Working with Dr. Manoj Thomas and the Information Systems department, the team is also developing an Intelligent Systems Framework which will be located in kiosks dotting various locations in the East End. The kiosks will provide residents information for the future trolley lines which organizers hope will connect them to grocery stores near VCU campus and the Tricycle Gardens urban farm.

“I’m absolutely optimistic,” Wood said. “This is a great student project. They put the route together, the nature of the expenses – it’s all planned. Now they have to execute.”

– Article by Chris Suarez, student journalist

Professor Van Wood explains why prices at the pump are so low

The complexities of oil prices

Friday, Nov. 7, 2014

VWith holiday shopping right around the corner, U.S. consumers could have a little extra money in their pockets, thanks to lower gas prices. Saudi Arabia, the planet’s top producer and exporter of crude oil, lowered its prices for sales to the U.S., while raising prices in other markets.

This is a first, according to Van Wood, Ph.D., marketing professor in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business. Wood has been the Philip Morris Chair in International Business at VCU for more than 20 years. Globalization particularly fascinates Wood, who has lived or worked in more than 90 countries.

“Saudi Arabia has never done this before,” he said. “They have always restricted output in the past when prices dropped in order to push prices back up.”

So what has changed? We asked Wood to look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth and explain this complex situation.

Why is Saudi Arabia cutting its oil prices for the United States?

It’s a human thing dating back to 1085 [when Islam split into Sunni and Shia factions]. Saudi Arabia, by keeping prices low, can put additional pressure on their Muslim rival Iran. While both Saudi Arabia and Iran are Muslim nations, Saudi is Sunni and Iran is Shia — these factions of Islam have been rivals for over 1,000 years.

From the political aspect, [Saudi Arabia] wants to hammer Iran. Iran is a backer of Hezbollah … and it’s a big deal and a part of the shifting sands in the region. As oil prices decrease, Iran is squeezed as it depends heavily on oil for economic and political viability. Saudi does also, but it has a trillion-dollar surplus and can wait it out much better. If they can lower oil prices, they can squeeze these guys out of backing Hezbollah. This rivalry has more detail, but that is the basics here. All of this involves the broader geopolitical issues of being an ally of the U.S., etc.

How will the United States react? Will we cease our own oil production?

By keeping prices low, Saudi Arabia can also deal with the U.S. and other new oil-producing competitors; as prices drop the viability of “fracking” decreases. Fracking, like all things, only works if it’s economically viable.

What’s interesting is it’s always more complex than what people see. Once oil prices come down, business people think they have saved more money and can invest in other things. The economy starts picking up.

Once the economy takes off, people say there’s going to be more demand and prices go up.

How will this affect the U.S. economy in the long run? Is this good for us? Or does it cement our dependence on foreign oil?

I don’t think we’ll ever be as dependent on oil as we have in the past. China is embracing alternate energy sources, which is a good thing since China and the U.S. are the biggest polluters. What Germany has done with wind power, all nuclear power plants [will be] replaced with wind power. All the Germans said they don’t want nuclear power.

How will this affect our use and the development of alternative means of energy?

I think the really interesting story is what companies will be affected by the drop in oil prices. The oil price drop will affect different companies in different ways depending on if you are a seller or buyer. If you sell oil (or its derivatives – i.e., big oil companies) your revenue stream will drop. If you buy oil (airlines, buses, taxis), your cost will drop.

But also, with respect to oil and natural gas companies, those that have invested in new technologies in drilling, pumping, processing and transporting versus those that have not — this is a very interesting story.  Those that invested can keep their operating costs down and thus survive this price drop, those that did not will have more difficulty weathering this volatile time.

Where do you see this leading? How long can these low prices last?

I don’t think it’s going to last at all. It’s a commodity. [However], if we become nondependent on oil, the long-term story of the world caring about the Middle East will be very interesting.

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Business Alum Brings Late-Night Cookie Delivery to RVA


First-year and transferring students who just recently settled into their new homes in Richmond, Virginia don’t know how good they have it. Before last Spring, there was no way to have a dozen cookies and a glass of milk delivered to your door late at night.

Thanks to Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business graduate Brayden Pleasants, the city’s hankering for the quintessential late night sweet treat was finally satisfied by his start-up company, Red Eye Cookie Co.

Opening last March, Brayden and the team at Red Eye Cookies were overwhelmed with the immediate demand that followed. Starting operations at 6 p.m. on opening night, by 11 p.m. the bakery had to halt deliveries and close the shop. They had completely run out of cookies.

“RVA has cleared us out of almost all of our dough and we have stopped the ordering system for the night,” Red Eye Cookie Co. posted on their Facebook that evening. “For all that ordered or came out, we’re blown away and we couldn’t be more appreciative.”

Just like that, a simple idea had manifested into a business that would see six-digit sales in its first few months, according to Brayden.

Noticing that Richmond lacked a late night cookie delivery service, Brayden sought to provide the city a service which has become extremely popular in large cities like Philadelphia, Washington and New York.

“We saw a need not being addressed in Richmond,” Brayden said. “We thought it’d be fun to make cookies. It’s nice to work in a place where you’re always making people happy.”

8097617_origFounded with friend Colin Wright, a James Madison University graduate, the duo have been baking cookies with their mothers in the tradition of what Brayden calls, “southern-style kitchen cooking,” since their childhood. According to Brayden, all of Red Eye’s cookie recipes are original.

Brayden said he has always been interested in entrepreneurship, valuing the level of autonomy and ability to guide it holistically.

“It’s an opportunity to hold yourself to something,” Brayden said. “The work you put in, it’s laying down bricks, you build something that’s wholly yours.”

A former Marine, Brayden enrolled at VCU and graduated in December 2013. Earning a degree in marketing, Brayden embraced the discipline with an entrepreneurial mind. While still a student at VCU, he started a small t-shirt company and showed promise as an entrepreneur, according to Marketing professor Brian Brown.

“Brayden was an excellent student. He asked great questions and just appeared to have the commitment and persistence to ‘do his own thing.’” Brown said. “Many [students] say they want to be entrepreneurs, but aren’t actually committed to the process. Brayden is the first, that I know of, that’s getting it done.”

With the marketing experience Brayden gathered studying at VCU, he believes his business has been successful partially in thanks to how they’ve branded themselves as a late night business in a city that doesn’t seem to have many options for delectable sweets past midnight. Additionally, Brayden said priding themselves as a local business and partnering with the community and other businesses have led to the brand’s popularity.

Utilizing techniques from his marketing courses, Brayden and Red Eye employees often visit, table or cater at other local businesses for an afternoon or evening, sharing cookies and camaraderie with Richmond’s eclectic population at spots like Boka Tacos, Strangeways Brewery and The Caboose Wine & Cheese.

“You have to come with your own vision and do it your own way,” Brayden said. “I wanted to become intertwined with the community where we can’t be separated from it.”

Late in August, a rival cookie company arrived in the city. Campus Cookies, which originated in Harrisonburg in 2007, opened its fourth location in Richmond last month, adding another location alongside stores in Blacksburg, Harrisonburg and Charlottesville. Brown says the new competitor and those that could follow will make, “things tougher” but both Brayden and Brown believe Red Eye Cookies have the potential to remain successful.

Partnering with local and regional businesses like Lamplighter to provide coffee, Homestead Creamery for milk and an Ashland mill for flour, Brayden hopes to inspire patrons to support a locally homegrown business.

Alex Burlingame, kitchen manager for Red Eye Cookies and VCU Business student has worked at Red Eye since opening day. Currently a junior double majoring in business and philosophy, Alex said he’s also interested in entrepreneurship.

“Brayden has been so involved with everything that was going on since it started,” Alex said. “I really got to interact with him and learn a lot from what he was doing. It was so valuable for me to work there because I saw the problems you’d have to overcome and now I know what they’d look like.”

Assuming the position of manager early on, Alex said the experience bolstered what he has learned in his classes. However, translating that education to managing a staff and providing excellent customer-service, Alex said, was something he had to learn while working.

Alex said Brayden was incredibly receptive and supportive of all his employees, always making sure to include them in the creative process.

“He’s always asking people questions,” Alex said. “He doesn’t micromanage people, he’s open to additional perspectives. He’s not the kind of person to get stressed out easily. He’s very relaxed, but he’s also a leader who makes decisions when he has to.”

In six months, Brayden took an idea and ran with it, creating a business that’s become a Richmond favorite. Countless groups of students, families and workers have come to embrace the late-night cookie trend. They’re singing the praises of their bakers and delivery-people after receiving a box of cookies while cramming for exams, brainstorming on projects or simply hanging out late at night.

“THANK YOU so much for making the delivery to my bed/couch-ridden friend,” said one fan on Facebook. “She is over the moon and is RAVING about the cookies!! She says they are MIRACLE cookies as she is now up and moving!”

“I ordered a dozen cookies and milk for my baby girl the night before her first day of college,” said another fan ordering for her daughter. “They were they best ever she said!”

-Article by Chris Suarez, student journalist

School of Business Awards Ceremony


On Friday, April 11th, the School of Business held its Awards Ceremony in the Snead Hall Atrium recognizing outstanding students, faculty and staff.

We want to congratulate all of the award recipients for their hard work and dedication in furthering themselves as well as the School.  We are proud to have such incredible individuals a part of the School of Business community.

Below is a list of all of the award recipients along with an image gallery.



Find out more about the Office of Student and Alumni Engagement here. 

Reynolds to Rams: Connecting The School of Business with Reynolds Community College Students

IMG_2347VCU School of Business students visited the Parham Road Campus of J. Sergeant Reynolds this past Wednesday to recruit community college students to consider transferring to VCU and the School of Business.

The visiting students are part of the new program — Reynolds to Rams — directly connecting Reynolds Community College students with School of Business students. Business students give their own testimony of their experiences at VCU and register them for the program, giving Reynolds students first notice of opportunities to meet one-on-one with VCU advisors, get early access to select VCU activities and receive invitations for group experiences at athletics and cultural enrichment events.

“Reynolds to Rams allows a smooth transition for anyone interested in transferring to VCU and are studying business administration at Reynolds,” said team member, Jeremy Lux. “It allows them to know about the career opportunities VCU opens up to them.”

DSC_4966The student recruiters who were at Reynolds campus on Wednesday are part of a new 400-level marketing class, “Experiential Marketing.”

“It’s a non-traditional form of marketing where, instead of a static advertisement, a company or brand will engage in one-on-one interactions with consumers, creating a brand experience,” says Experiential Marketing Professor Jodie Ferguson. “In the class, we talk a lot about event marketing. It’s a great strategy for a brand to connect with a consumer in person in a typically leisure setting.”

As part of the class, three groups of five to seven students visit the Reynolds Community College campus as ambassadors for the Reynolds to Rams program, bringing the same creative marketing materials the school uses in it’s current marketing campaign.

Students were lent cameras, an iPad for data collection, tents, and Rodney the Ram to help market the brand of the school and showcase VCU. The event also demonstrated the real-world, class activities potential transfers can become involved in.

“We’ve been learning how to plan and execute an event properly,” Lux said. “I think the class is great. Instead of being in a classroom, we get to do an event and get the real experience.”

DSC_4954While students were given the resources to bolster their event, all planning and organization was completed by each group of the class, allowing for creativity and a hands-on experience in coordinating a marketing event.

“It’s been so much fun. We’ve met a lot of awesome people and gave away a lot of shirts and VCU merchandise,” said team member and Strategic Advertising major, Katherine Rodden. “We gave them valuable information about their future and helped them become potential Rams.”

While the ambassadors who visited on Wednesday brought Rodney the Ram, other groups planned unique experiences for their respective visits. One group incorporated a photo shoot with Reynolds students holding letters saying, “R2R.” The third group included a message board for students to write what they believe it means to be a student.

“[Event marketing] is effective because the consumer might be open to having fun and building a relationship with the brand in a more relaxed setting,” Ferguson said. “This is a new way to reach a consumer where they’re part of the experience or the message.”

Ferguson says her class met or exceeded many of their project goals and signed close to 250 Reynolds students for the program.

According to Coordinator of Undergraduate Recruitment Ginny Wagg, the Reynolds Community College system funnels roughly about a quarter of the 375 to 400 students who transfer into the School of Business each fall. Wagg says the Reynolds to Rams program was initiated partially because the majority of new students at VCU are transfers and aren’t offered the same introduction as incoming freshmen.

Members of Reynolds To Rams team
Members of Reynolds To Rams team

“This has all been planned for awhile,” Wagg said. “It’s taking off and we’re excited about it. We’re hoping to hit the ground running this fall with events for transfer students on VCU’s campus and at Reynolds.”

Anyone interested applying to VCU and the School of Business for the Fall 2014 semester are required to submit their applications by May 1.

For more information on transferring and the Reynolds to Rams program, please contact Ginny Wagg at or (804) 828-1742 or visit

-Article by Chris Suarez, student journalist

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