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13th February 2013, 9:52am
Portas Pilot campaign calls on creative minds
Creative students contribute to MR BIG campaign A crack team of art and design students are applying their creative talents to the national government campaign to rejuvenate the Great British High Street, spearheaded by Mary Portas.

The Lincolnshire town of Market Rasen was selected as one of twelve ’Portas Pilot’ locations across the UK. Having secured almost £100,000 in funding to transform the town’s high street, the Market Rasen Business Improvement Group (MR BIG) is now collaborating with students from the University of Lincoln on a variety of innovative marketing campaigns.

A key aspect of the town’s ‘Portas Promise’ is the generation of much-needed footfall to kick-start the local economy. Students across the University of Lincoln’s Public Relations, Journalism, Creative Advertising, Graphic Design and MA Design courses have been called upon to construct the campaigns that will entice shoppers back onto the High Street.

The unique collaboration has so far seen around 30 University of Lincoln students work on four live briefs, generating ideas to support the Portas Pilot campaign. The projects cover various aspects of PR, advertising, branding and signage.

MR BIG founder and chair Sara Scott visited the University to deliver each of the briefs to students.

She said: “On discovering we had been successful in securing Portas Town Pilot status, we contacted the University of Lincoln so that we could capture some of the freshest communications, advertising and design talent in the country to help us realise our plans for 2013.

“The ongoing collaboration is equally beneficial for both the students and MR BIG’s strategic objectives. The creative teams are able to contribute to an exciting campaign of national importance, and Market Rasen is benefitting from innovative marketing and communications campaigns, which really get to the heart of what we are hoping to achieve for the town.

“We have been extremely impressed with the commercial aptitude of the students, and the professional standard of concepts, ideas and presentations that have been produced to date. I am encouraged by the commitment and tenacity of the students we have on board and am excited by the prospect of continuing our collaboration throughout the rest of the year.”

Principal Lecturer in the Lincoln School of Art and Design, Gyles Lingwood, said: “The University’s partnership with the MR BIG Portas Pilot campaign is providing students with an excellent opportunity to work as specialist designers, advertisers and communicators. They are actively collaborating with their peers within a multi-disciplinary and client-focused environment to create concepts that have the potential to be rolled out nationally.

“Working on ‘live briefs’ ensures that our creative students are able to produce effective, creative solutions in a real-world environment, with opportunities for their concepts to be judged and implemented according to commercial criteria. This experience is invaluable as they prepare for employment, applying important creative, strategic and communication skills in an extremely exciting project for the whole region.”

Responding to the students’ involvement, Jane Crofts, BA (Hons) Public Relations Programme Leader, adds: "I am really excited that our students have been able to work with MR BIG and contribute to not just the ongoing work in Market Rasen, but also to supply much-needed material to support their bid for further funding. Opportunities like this for academic courses and Cygnet PR, the University’s stand-alone student PR agency, enable students to record on their CVs that they have real world experience as well as academic knowledge."

With the live projects currently in progress, the complete campaign incorporating each of the four briefs will launch later this year to promote Market Rasen and the rejuvenation of its High Street.

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