By Cassondra Kirby/News editor

Varoom. Varoom. Eastern marketing students are starting their engines and making some noise on campus from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. April 9 in a project they are calling, “Start Something.”

The project, which will showcase The Grand Am in “Start Something Grand,” the Vibe in “Start Something Different” and the Sunfire in “Start Something Hot” will be entered in the General Motors Academic Achievements Awards. Each of the different cars being showcased will have different scenery, activities, games and food for students and the campus community. The event, in its second year at Eastern, will be at the outside corner of the Powell building.

Students in two marketing classes taught, by S.J. Garner, combined to form the team that promoted these Pontiac vehicles. Students involved include 18 undergraduate students enrolled in an advertising campaign class, and seven graduate students enrolled in a MBA promotional seminar course.

“The purpose is to give college students an opportunity to design and implement a promotional event for a local General Motors dealership,” Garner said. “Students design all the advertising, do all the public relations, conduct two research studies — one before the event and one after.”

Garner also said the students plan the event activities, solicit activities from area business for prizes, staff the five-hour event and make two presentations to the client — in this case, Adams Pontiac, Buick, GMC Trucks, Inc. of Richmond.

As part of the promotion, the agency organized a series of campaign advertisements to promote the campus event. Promotions involved print, radio, television, direct mail, public displays and even on-line advertising.

Students get a real dose of reality in carrying out this event from start to finish, according to Garner.

“They get to implement their own ideas and then measure how effective those ideas were in reaching the goals set by General Motors,” Garner said. “This type of project prepares students for the real world of marketing better than any solely classroom activity. They must engage in active problem solving, creative thinking, leadership and deadline driven implementation.”

Garner said the project cost around $5,000 to $6,000. The car dealer gave $2,500 but the class through asking for donations from local businesses generated the rest. In return for donations, the local businesses have their names placed on some of the ads and are announced at the event. Garner said the team buys all of the supplies needed, most of the advertising and some of the prizes and scenery items.

Last year’s Eastern marketing students did a similar project for the national contest placing third. Preparing to reach many of Eastern’s students, the marketing group focused much of the semester on the five-hour campus event. Through games, contest, music and the display of the Pontiac Vibe, Grand Am and Aztek vehicles, the event paid off with an attendance of almost 1,100 students, according to Garner. Garner hopes even more students will get involved this year.

Garner said the final presentation is made to the client Sid Adams on May 1 and the final book is mailed off the next day. This year, there will be a preliminary presentation during the CB&T Capstone Presentations on April 29 in the Perkins building. It will be a short version of the final presentation to the client, according to Garner. Garner said they will not know how they placed in the competition until sometime in September.