Working on a real-life marketing campaign is something most don’t experience until college or later, but for a group of DECA students in the Puyallup School District, its campaign was recently displayed on a billboard along River Road.
A group of Emerald Ridge High School students, led by teacher Marci Sabin, took home first place in the Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling’s Peer to Peer Youth Problem Gambling campaign. As part of the campaign, the students created a full marketing campaign including a billboard, a video, a 30-second radio spot, a logo, a slogan and drafts of a social media campaign.
Three classes of DECA students from the Puyallup School District worked on the campaign, and teachers ultimately selected nine campaigns for the Evergreen Council to pick from for their most recent campaign. The winning Emerald Ridge team featured students Faith Chea, John Bushman, Gabi Csuha and Haley Hoff.
“The kids get to learn great skills,” said Kristin West, outreach and development coordinator for the Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling. “We also get great tools from that, that we can take into the future.”
When West originally came to Puyallup to introduce the students to the project in February, she encouraged the students to think of the council as their client.
In May, once the the entries were submitted, West ranked the campaigns right up there with campaigns she has seen from marketing professionals.
“We had so many good entries,” she said. “We were really blown away with the level of entries we received from the Puyallup School District.”
Sabin led her students through some mock campaigns throughout the first semester, ultimately preparing them for the real-life campaign during spring term.
“I was shocked,” she said of her students winning the contest. “I did some air fist pumps. It really reiterated that I’m teaching them how to apply skills into real life.”
Csuha, a junior at ER at the time of the contest, said at first, most of the students didn’t realize how big of a media campaign they were about to create.
“Once we realized how big of a deal it was, we were able to learn a lot about career pathways,” the 16-year-old Csuha said. “We were able to meet people who do that every day.”
Csuha plans on going into marketing as her future career, and says the whole experience was something she never thought was possible while in high school.
“I never dreamed I could see my design in real life, and so young, too,” she said. “It was so cool.”