University Business students choreograph flash mob at Reno-Tahoe International Airport

Students’ unique final creates opportunity to raise awareness about Rett syndrome

6/12/2012 | By: Megan Akers  |

Judy Strauss, a managerial sciences associate professor for the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno, chose to put a creative, nontraditional twist on her Marketing students’ class final, requiring them to create and perform an original flash mob in a public location to raise awareness about a nonprofit organization. After a few weeks of intense planning, the University of Nevada, Reno students broke out into a choreographed flash mob in the middle of the Reno-Tahoe International Airport on May 14 around 8 p.m.

Strauss prefers to use applied experimental projects, such as the flash mob assignment, in order to deepen the learning level for her students. Her class is structured this way so students have the opportunity to learn new ways of effectively using Internet marketing while gaining real-world experience. With social media a key component of successful marketing these days, Strauss believes a student-created flash mob and uploading a video of their performance to the popular video website YouTube would be an effective and innovative way to promote a non-profit organization.

Strauss’ had three solid objectives for the project results, with the first two successfully achieved the night of the event and the third to be measured in the coming weeks after the flash mob video had been posted to YouTube.

“Through this project, I wanted students first to know the value of helping a non-profit, and second to learn how to organize an event via social media,” Strauss said. “Finally, I hope they gained valuable marketing experience through their execution of an event like this. Hopefully ‘sales’ will follow with donations to the foundation after people see the YouTube video.”

Seven different student groups submitted proposals with detailed information on how the flash mob should be organized, where it would take place and what non-profit the students’ would be raising awareness for. All of the students worked together to make the winning proposal a reality. The foundation selected as the subject of the project was the International Rett Syndrome Foundation (IRSF), a non-profit organization dedicated to funding research to find a cure for Rett syndrome, which causes a stagnation of communication skills in infant females, and is often misdiagnosed as autism.

For Kimberly Bakotich, the marketing student behind the winning proposal, the flash mob project was a rewarding conclusion to the class. Bakotich has taken care of a young lady with Rett syndrome for approximately five years, and chose to base her flash mob proposal on IRSF due to her personal connection with the program as well as her belief that more awareness about the rare disorder should be promoted.

“Rett syndrome is a rare disorder that affects females, and before I proposed this to my class I would say about 99 percent of the class had never heard of Rett syndrome,” Bakotich said. “The flash mob project was a great way to bring people together to create a positive impact on others as well as bring awareness to a smaller foundation.”

The flash mob project video was posted on YouTube on May 18, and already has a few hundred views. Bakotich hopes the number of YouTube views of the video will continue to rise, helping to further promote Rett syndrome awareness to an even larger audience. Both Bakotich and Strauss are excited about the YouTube results of the project thus far, and attribute the success of the class final to all of the students involved in making the flash mob happen.

The flash mob project isn’t the first time that Strauss’ students have been required to create innovative projects in order to enhance their internet marketing skills. Throughout the semester, students have additionally completed a medley of social-media based projects, ranging from a personal branding and blogging assignment to their participation in the International Google AdWords challenge.

Watch the student flash mob on YouTube.


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