By Anna Grace Usery
The campaigns class in the integrated marketing communications program is a rite of passage. Seniors get to cap off their four years of learning the ins-and-outs of business, marketing, public relations and communications by creating a marketing plan for a real-world client.
For one campaigns class in the School of Journalism and New Media, they are bypassing local, state and national organizations to research solutions for international giant Ethiopian Airlines (EA), a member of the Star Alliance that dubs themselves “The New Spirit of Africa.” The airline is located in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.
The partnership between the School of Journalism and New Media and EA began in April of last year. Both entities wanted to create an exchange program where Ole Miss students and faculty members could go to school in Ethiopia and vice versa.
“We are about to launch the online IMC master’s program for EA employees,” said Scott Fiene, assistant dean for curriculum and assessment in the School of Journalism and New Media.
Ethiopian Airlines produced the first fleet in African aviation and has been in business for 75 successful years, according to Nigusu Worku, regional director of sales and services for EA in the U.S.
“We were looking for a partner that can help us in getting this story to the U.S. market,” he said. “It has come now a very good time for us to work with the University of Mississippi.”
Worku said he and other EA executives put together packets for the students that detailed EA’s objectives in terms of marketing and brand awareness. These objectives include increasing number of likes on the official Facebook page, boosting app downloads and growing the rate of website bookings.
“We’re bringing the students to Ethiopia,” Worku said. “We believe seeing is believing. We have given them information, but when they go experience [it] I am sure that they will have a lot of ideas on how to tell this story.”
Students in the class are traveling to Ethiopia Feb. 27. Their goal is to raise brand awareness for EA in the U.S. market.
Riley Mowbray, a senior in the class who wants to explore global communications as her career, said originally the campaigns class was going to break up into groups of three for a competition on who could produce the best campaign. However, since the impact of the campaign could propel EA into the future of African air travel, she wants the class to remain as a group so they can come up with not several ideas, but one great one.
“We’re excited to make them well known for what they’re good at,” she said. “We want the American audience to know that Addis Ababa is the new Dubai.”
Mowbray said the class plans to highlight some of the initiatives that set EA apart from other airlines.
“Many people don’t know they plant a tree for every passenger and that they have their own aviation school,” she said. “They are environmentally conscious and practice sustainability.”
Mary Linley Albert, another student in the class, said she’s excited to learn about the culture of Ethiopia and Africa as a whole.
“I have always had a heart for global communications and new cultures,” she said. “I believe that though we may look or sound different at our core we are all humans who want the same things for our lives, and it’s those similarities that allow us to gather together and celebrate our differences.”