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Sweet treat: Communications students present campaign at Krispy Kreme headquarters

Four students in Assistant Professor Denise Hill’s “Strategic Campaigns” course visited the donut company’s Winston-Salem facility to share their strategic communications campaign to increase the visibility of the chain’s loyalty app.

Talk about a glazed, err, great opportunity.

A four-person team from Assistant Professor Denise Hill’s “Strategic Campaigns” class recently traveled to Krispy Kreme headquarters in Winston Salem to present a student-produced campaign – developed during the course of the fall 2016 semester – to the doughnut company’s global marketing division.

At the invitation of Krispy Kreme’s global marketing division, Elon students Grace O’Neill ’17 (from left), Emily Dzilenski ’17, Claire Carroll ’17 and Elizabeth Zimmerman ’17 visited the company’s Winston-Salem facility to share their strategic communications campaign. The group’s research was conducted in the fall during Assistant Professor Denise Hill’s “Strategic Campaigns” course.

During their March 1 visit, Elon students Claire Carroll ’17, Emily Dzilenski ’17, Grace O’Neill ’17 and Elizabeth Zimmerman ’17 had lunch with Jackie Woodward, Krispy Kreme's chief marketing officer, received a tour of the facilities and presented as part of the company’s monthly marketing department meeting. The response to their presentation was both receptive and appreciative, the students said.

“After we finished our pitch, several Krispy Kreme executives wanted to personally congratulate us on a job well done,” recalled Zimmerman, a strategic communications major. “They told us that we were some of the best presenters that they had ever had and were especially impressed by our investment in research and in the campaign as a whole.”

The visit invitation came as a result of the students’ strong on-campus presentation in December, which impressed Sarah Roof, Krispy Kreme’s corporate communications manager, and Donald Donegan, the company’s director of loyalty marketing, who were in attendance. During Hill’s fall course, the students divided into four teams to develop strategic communications campaigns to increase awareness of and enrollment in Krispy Kreme’s loyalty app.

“Krispy Kreme was so impressed with the students’ work that a month after the semester ended, they asked the ‘winning’ student team to come to their headquarters and present,” said Hill. “Needless to say, this was a great learning experience for them, and they valued and appreciated the opportunity. And what was great was that other members of the Krispy Kreme marketing team who had not previously seen the students’ campaign were also impressed.”

According to Zimmerman, the Krispy Kreme staff commended the team’s in-depth research that drove its decision-making in regards to tactics and strategies. In fact, the company plans to incorporate several ideas into the app’s actual marketing plan.

The four students share their research that aims to increase awareness of and enrollment in Krispy Kreme’s loyalty app.

​Based on the students' work this past fall, Woodward also expressed an interest in continuing a partnership with Elon students in future “Strategic Campaigns” courses, noted Hill. This was the second time the Elon professor has partnered with the American company synonymous with glazed frosting and cups of coffee. In spring 2016, her students developed campaigns to increase sales of its drip coffee.

“Working with a real-world client, especially one with the brand identity and reputation of Krispy Kreme, was an amazing opportunity,” Zimmerman said. “It was also a great opportunity to work on the client engagement side of a campaign, keeping in mind our client's requests and stipulations in order to deliver valuable work.”

The senior called the course an appropriate conclusion to her major because it applied everything she had learned over the last four years about visual communications, digital media, strategic research, media relations and advertising.

“As I apply for jobs, I am able to tell potential employers that I have real-world experience working for a client on a campaign and that these ideas that our team worked on are actually being implemented by a top-performing quick-service restaurant,” said Zimmerman.

​As for the question everyone wants to ask: yes, the students received free donuts.

“We each got to pick out a half-dozen donuts to take home including some of the brand new, exclusive Power Rangers donuts that are part of an event activation for the new movie,” said Zimmerman.

Last fall, two other “Strategic Campaigns” classes also teamed with real-world clients to create creative campaigns and marketing strategies.

Students in Lecturer Hal Vincent’s class worked with Replacements Ltd. to pair fine china, crystal and silverware with millennial shoppers. Likewise, Associate Professor Lee Bush’s class explored how Biscuitville Fresh Southern could increase brand engagement with members of Generation Y and Z.

Tommy Kopetskie,
4/6/2017 2:00 PM