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Leading up to the opening of the new Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU on April 21, forty undergraduates in Jodie Ferguson‘s class were charged with using experiential marketing to create awareness, promote participation in the grand opening, and collect email addresses for the ICA e-newsletter.

The students worked closely with the ICA staff over the course of the semester to produce six unique events on both the Monroe Park Campus and MCV Campus. Each student group had a 20’x20′ event footprint to work with, including two tents, and giveaways such as ICA branded t-shirts, color-changing phone wallets, keychains, stickers, and pencils.

Groups went beyond expected tactics, pushing themselves to create interactive exhibits that reflect the mission of the ICA. “When it comes to the ICA, the first thing that came to mind was creativity,” wrote the group called Take Time to Reflect. “We knew that with the grand opening of this tremendous addition to Richmond’s art district, our project needed to reflect even a fraction of what visitors were to expect during the grand opening.

“After listening to the pitch presented by most of our peers, we immediately came to think that maybe our idea was too large. But that’s what the ICA represents. It stands out in comparison from other contemporary institutions because it’s willing to take risks and stand out from social norms.” Their group built  a mirrored reflection booth to “take the viewer through a quick but immersive experience offering an escape from their busy life and the opportunity to ‘reflect’ on themselves.”

“Thanks VCU School of Business for being such a supportive and creative partner,” said the ICA in a facebook post. “Big shoutout to Jodie and her students for their imaginative approach to spreading the word to their peers about the ICA. We are impressed but not at all surprised!”

In all, the experiential marketing students interacted with several hundred students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors to generate excitement for the ICA. The exhibits were displayed in the VCU School of Business Snead Hall atrium the week leading up to the opening.

Read their blog to see their creative approaches and find out what they learned.

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