Islander Graphic Design Students Join ONE DAY Service Project to Develop Ad Campaign for Nonprofit

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – In a year unlike any other, every annual event faces a tough decision – either cancel or continue in the face of COVID-19. For ONE DAY, a volunteer project that allows graphic design majors at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi to get hands-on experience, the decision was made that the show must go on.

On Oct. 24, a group of about 20 Islander students and alumni assembled in person and virtually to develop and implement a campaign for local nonprofit Communities in Schools of the Coastal Bend. The students helped create a multimedia advertising campaign for the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, which has little or no marketing budget.

On-site students strictly observed the University’s social distancing guidelines during the entire 12-hours they were in the Graphic Design labs in Bay Hall. They worked under the direction of Nancy Miller, Islander Graphic Design Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Art.   

“Our small but mighty team of current students, alumni, faculty, and professionals rose to the challenge of collaborating and executing against a sizable list of client deliverables,” Miller said. “The resulting campaign was as successful, if not more successful, than in previous years. The positioning and awareness collateral proposed was professional, targeted, and cohesive.” 

With such an extensive list of deliverables to complete by day’s end, senior Neiman Ward said the group initially splits up into teams to develop creative directions for the group’s consideration. Once the direction is determined, the volunteers are assigned advertising touchpoints to execute individually.

“For example, if one person is good at copywriting, we want them over here on this team so we can divide and conquer,” Ward said.

Now in his third year as a ONE DAY volunteer, Ward said he enjoyed the opportunity to be working on some of the project’s designs.  

“My first year here, I was the stock photo guy and now I’ve been moved up to designing,” Ward, a native of Dallas, said. “Working for the community, it feels really good because we get to see the work we produce locally. I just went to La Palmera the other week, and I saw the work we did for ONE DAY last year was still up.”

Last year’s stellar work has indeed reaped dividends. The 2019 campaign for the Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse-Coastal Bend took first in the Division IV (under 100 members) Public Service category of the national American Advertising Federation competition.   

Elvia Aguilar, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, wore two hats on ONE DAY as both a professional volunteer and as the Past President of the AAF-CC.

“ONE DAY is  a win-win for everyone,” Aguilar said. “To be recognized by our peers in the advertising industry on a national scale for the work we are doing here in Corpus Christi is the icing on the cake.” 

For this year’s Communities in Schools of the Coastal Bend campaign, Islanders alongside professionals created print ads, a postcard, a flyer, posters, a vinyl banner, yard signs, vinyl and digital billboards, bus benches and bus shelter designs as well as designs for three promotional spaces in La Palmera. Other assets included radio script and TV animatic, and social media branding and posting graphics and web banner ads. All told, the nonprofit received more than $64,000 in promotional advertising space secured by Ken Schuetze, a professional member of the Corpus Christi Chapter of the AAF.

Members of the ONE DAY team included Islander alumnus Sonny Martinez ’19, a Dallas native who is now working as a freelance graphic designer in Houston. 

“My role focused on outside collateral – so bus benches and billboards,” Martinez said. “Having to complete such a largescale project in a short window of time can get pretty hectic. For students, it shows the fast-paced environment that they will be expected to work in once they graduate.”

Schulenburg, Texas, junior Elizabeth Pesl said she enjoyed working on a new set of tasks as a second-year volunteer.

 “Last year, I was on the promotional items team – we made stickers, enamel pins, and some of the print ads,” Pesl said. “This year, I’m on the print collateral team and I’m in charge of the posters and thank you cards. With ONE DAY, it gives us a chance to work on areas where we might not be as skilled. We also learn how to work in a group setting; you have to communicate with people intensely and use group tools like email and Dropbox so you are communicating effectively.”

During the final presentation of the day, representatives of Communities in Schools of the Coastal Bend responded to the deliverables in an enthusiastic manner. Executive Director Gloria Taylor was visibly moved by the presentation and shared her excitement as each deliverable was revealed. 

“This is amazing; how all of you came together and did this in one day is really mind-blowing,” Taylor said. “I don’t know if you know how much this means to all of us and the students we will continue to serve. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.” 

Ward said he was surprised by how well the team’s work was received.

“I knew Ms. Taylor was going to be really happy with the results, but I didn’t expect to see tears of joy,” Ward said. “Seeing the client’s happiness made me feel like we really accomplished something big today.”