Preparation for Communication Campaigns trade show under way

This year’s Communication Campaigns trade show theme is “Food for Thought,” and students are working hard to develop environmentally sound or health-conscious businesses.

“With increased awareness of our food supply, consumers are demanding changes in the process and products. Knowing this, I thought this a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about an industry and work to develop a ‘good’ food company,” Communication Campaigns instructor Dr. Anne Zaphiris said.

The trade show is an annual event where students split into groups and create their own businesses, from products to marketing materials, unveiling them at the trade show. Their efforts will be judged by Erie professionals and returning alumni.

“This is the fifth year I’ve taught Communication Campaigns, and each year I’m surprised. The booths keep getting better, and the groups get more creative,” Zaphiris said.

Creativity is essential as each booth will by vying for the attention of visitors, who are given tickets upon entering the show and encouraged to deposit them into the ticket boxes of the booths they like best.

“Every time I’m at Panera I think, ‘How great would this be if it was faster with different options?’ and our idea evolved from there,” senior Andrea Conlon, whose group is creating Nature’s Spoon, an organic fast food restaurant, said.

“We want all people to be able to look at Chic-fil-A or Burger King, look at Nature’s Spoon, know that they are both quick, but pick the healthier choice,” Conlon said.

Because this year’s theme focuses on healthy eating, businesses will provide free snacks and samples of their products, so visitors should arrive hungry.

To further increase competition, each booth will feature a give-away item or basket, which trade show visitors can enter to win.

“We’re giving away gift certificates to Erie bar/restaurants such as Calamari’s, Cornerstone and The Brewery. That way if a winner isn’t 21, they can still enjoy the food at the restaurant,” senior and Whisk Bakery co-creator Marissa Lewis said.

“Since Whisk is an organic, gluten-free bakery, we’re saying that Whisk has partnered with a variety of local establishments, so everyone has a chance to eat healthy, gluten-free cupcakes and desserts,” Lewis said.

With the trade show deadline drawing ever nearer, students are quickly learning how much work goes into operating a business.

“I think that making our own business and putting on a trade show gives us a good look at how business works in the real world. I’m learning a lot about how much effort it takes for an actual business to run,” said junior Margaret Moltz, who will be unveiling an eco-friendly Italian restaurant, The Smashed Tomato.

Other businesses debuting at the trade show include: Baby Gaga, an organic baby food line; Run Your Mouth, an organic eatery located in fitness centers; Seaside Smoothies, a smoothie bar; Nectar Café, a café paired with classes for healthy living; and Pangea Organic Food Service, a healthy alternative to school lunches.

The trade show will be held Tuesday, May 11, in the Herrmann Student Union from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Don’t forget to stop by to support your friends, sample some “Food for Thought” and help your favorite mock-business earn a winning grade.