Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA students create animated character for American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers Recruitment Challenge

April 22, 2016 - University Marketing Communications
More than 20 undergraduate students enrolled in a marketing course taught by Dr. Marlene Kahla, professor of management, marketing and international business at SFA, are competing in the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers Recruitment Challenge. Students created promotional videos, T-shirts and Oil Drop Oliver to help rebrand the fuel, petrochemical and natural gas industries.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - He's green. He's lovable. He's Oil Drop Oliver, and he's helping more than 20 undergraduate Stephen F. Austin State University students increase awareness about the fuel, petrochemical and natural gas industries and the jobs and products associated with them.

Oil Drop Oliver was born at 8 a.m. on a Friday during a marketing, advertising and promotion class in SFA's Nelson Rusche College of Business. Made of felt and polyester stuffing, Oil Drop Oliver serves as a loveable character that is clean and green.

Dr. Marlene Kahla, SFA professor of management, marketing and international business, explained how Oil Drop Oliver is part of a student-led project for the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers Recruitment Challenge.

In an effort to enhance its workforce development outreach activities and focus on attracting and preparing potential employees for the refining and petrochemical industry, AFPM collaborated with EdVenture Partners - an organization dedicated to developing innovative industry-education partnership programs - on a national college-student-based recruitment challenge.

While conducting primary and secondary research through focus groups and interviewing millennials from science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs, SFA students and community college students, the data suggested that people have a negative perception of the fuel, petrochemical and natural gas industries and viewed these industries as dirty.

The students created Oil Drop Oliver with the help of Dr. Mary Olle, an assistant professor in SFA's School of Human Sciences, who sewed him together, to help alleviate the negative perceptions that often exist with the industry.

According to the students, Oil Drop Oliver helps cut through conversations to get to the call to action: "What's so crude about oil and natural gas?"

The students' idea for the project is to shed a positive light on the petrochemical and natural gas industries through communication with millennials using the animated character and social media.

"This project taught us how to work together as a class while under deadlines and pressure and how to create an effective advertising campaign that will hopefully help how people perceive the fuel, natural gas and petrochemical industries," said Shakiria Wheat, junior strategic communication major at SFA.

In addition, the class created two promotional videos for the project and designed T-shirts.