Students work to advertise Morocco

Portland State was chosen out of 60 universities to head a Moroccan advertising campaign that will bring manufacturing and information technology to the country.

Portland State was chosen out of 60 universities to head a Moroccan advertising campaign that will bring manufacturing and information technology to the country. The main goal of the effort is to transform stereotypical images of Morocco as a travel destination into a country for commerce.

The Moroccan American Trade and Investment Council has chosen PSU to spearhead this effort. The council will present the entire set of ideas from other universities, but the presentation will be heavily weighted toward ideas from PSU students in an advertising program.

The students come up with ideas that they believe will help break stereotypes about Morocco, while helping to bring businesses and commerce to the country. Bellevue College in Nebraska initially won the contest, but the selection committee changed the decision and chose PSU.

“It was a strange situation, in that they came back to us. Now we are doing two things: presenting a multimedia video that will precede the winning school, and presenting PSU’s work,” said Don Dickinson, PSU director of advertising management for the project.

Dickinson will be traveling to Morocco to give three different marketing communications workshops over a five-day period.

“I will be giving three seminars in three different cities to government agencies,” Dickinson said. “I will be displaying a video that will be based out of a college campaign, and the main idea is that I am an academic expert that will give this advice and tell how you can lead this from an academic campaign. How it can work from an academic perspective.”

The students came up with these ideas through a collaborative effort from the PSU Middle East Studies Center, the School of Business, the advertising management program, and the graphic design program. Chris Hamman, a business student who is taking Arabic in the Middle East studies program, created the impetus for the campaign.

He said he had an insight that he showed the creative team, and started the idea of what he calls “transformational images.” The campaign will stress the idea that Morocco has a “modernized infrastructure and competitive labor costs,” according to a presentation created by Dickinson.

PSU is focusing on the misconceptions that their target audience might have about Morocco, such as its location being unknown, having stereotypes as being politically unstable, and being potentially anti-American.

The group explored other stereotypical images, such as Morocco being an African country that is economically depressed and uneducated, a country that is unfriendly to business, and that has a population that is generally regarded as agrarian, undereducated and small.

This campaign comes on the heels of another PSU campaign for Cadillac and an upcoming campaign for Coca-Cola put together by the business students and the graphic design students. There will be a conference on May 16 in the Smith Memorial Student Union Ballroom where students will present their ideas for the Coca-Cola campaign.

Bethany Jones, a student in the advertising management program in the School of Business, said that students are excited to be involved in work that will affect the lives of Moroccans.

“It will shed light on how modernized the country is and how they are trying to Westernize,” Jones said. “We are going to help people get jobs. This is not just another product for us to advertise. This will change people’s lives.”