This past semester, the Missouri State Ad Team was tasked to create a campaign for the McCain Institute that prevents targeted violence. Through the use of extensive primary and secondary research, the team constructed a digital campaign titled K.E.Y., or Kindness Empowers Youth. This campaign targets children in grades 3 through 5 with fun activities and an interactive game. These activities help increase students’ emotional intelligence by teaching healthy coping mechanisms, self-esteem, team building, and more. K.E.Y. secondarily targets the parents and educators of these students. This two-pronged approach allows K.E.Y. to educate, engage, and empower the community in one cohesive campaign.
“We decided to create a website to act as the main hub of our campaign. On the site, the user can access comprehensive lesson plans, resources for guardians and educators, our K.E.Y Academy game, and other activities for kids,” explains Sarah Thomas.
The team virtually presented their final project to a panel of judges on June 23. The judges included:
- Mark Green (ret.), Executive Director of the McCain Institute for International Leadership
- Nick Rasmussen, Executive Director of the Global Internet Forum for Counterterrorism
- David Gersten, Acting Director of the DHS Office of Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention
- Beth Goldberg, Research Program Manager of Jigsaw at Google
- Kim Dozier, CNN Global Affairs Analyst
- Sofia Gross, Public Policy Manager for Snap Inc.
- R. F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr., Chief Executive officer of Arizona State University Enterprise Partners
The competition was streamed through YouTube Live and was hosted by Brette Steele, Director of prevention and National Security for the McCain Institute. Before the top teams presented their campaigns, Cindy McCain gave a warm welcome explaining the importance of creating programs that counter targeted violence in our communities. Each team was then given 15 minutes to showcase their campaigns, followed by a 5 minute Q/A from the judges. Click here to watch the full presentation.
After reviewing the campaigns of the top three teams (Arizona State University and Johns Hopkins University were also finalists), Missouri State Ad Team was awarded first place and a grand prize of $5,000. The national competition was hosted by EdVenture Partners, a marketing agency focusing on Peer to Peer marketing solutions to help brands connect with their Gen Z audience. A total of 10 universities competed.
“Participating in the Peer-to-Peer Protective Project was one of the best opportunities I had throughout my college career. Creating a campaign that is mutually beneficial for the brand and the community is an opportunity that doesn’t come around often. It was great to see members throughout our community engage and support our campaign the way they did. ” explains Jordan Moore.
The team created “Agent Starter Kits,” a branded box for local students in their target market filled with lesson plans and secret agent gear, to test the effectiveness and collect data points for the campaign.
“This project gave us real-world experience by partnering us with an actual client, giving us a budget, and letting us form a collaborative team to work together. Throughout this project, I gained skills such as video content creation, website formation, budget management, lesson plan creation, and video game development.” stated Jordan Galkowski.
Ad Team is led by instructor Samantha Francka, who designs her class as a student-led advertising agency. Every student is given a title and is challenged to work within cross-functional teams to meet deadlines and produce deliverables for actual clients.
“Ad team gave me invaluable real-world experience that I’ve never gotten from another class. Working with subject matters that were completely foreign to me, I found a new passion for education and targeted violence prevention. This class challenged me to do things I never thought I was capable of. It’s given me connections that no other opportunity at Missouri State University has given me.” said Lauren Kerr.
“Working with EdVenture Partners and The McCain Institute opened so many doors for future opportunities for not only myself, but for all of my classmates who worked on this project with me.” said Morgan George.
The students are currently in the process of creating a 501(c)(3) organization to further develop and implement their program in schools this fall.