Business of Art and Design students at Ringling College of Art and Design are learning about brand strategy and activation in the most hands-on way possible – by pitching an up-and-coming animation studio on how they can establish their brand as a household name across America.
Working in small teams, students in “The Pitch” class spent the fall semester working to solve the challenge they were presented with back in August: Build a brand awareness campaign for Nashville, TN-based Pencilish Animation Studios.
“Having a client like Pencilish Animation Studios provided our students with an incredible opportunity to gain hands-on experience that prepares them for the exact work they’ll be doing after graduation,” said Kendall Brugger, who teaches the class. “Our student teams responded to a real client brief with a real challenge, and it motivated them to produce highly creative work on par with premier design agencies in the industry. We’re grateful for the Pencilish team’s time, expertise, and energy.”
Students met with the Pencilish team via Zoom to kick off the project in August and again at the mid-point in the semester. For the final pitch on Dec. 7, five members of the team, including CEO Tom Bancroft traveled to Sarasota.
“I’m honored that Ringling College selected Pencilish Animation to work with on this project and I’m incredibly impressed by the talent and perseverance of the students we worked with,” said Bancroft. A former Disney Animator, Bancroft has created characters in some of the most popular and profitable animated features of all time, including The Lion King, Pocahontas, and Mulan. He has also directed 10 feature films and eight television series.
All three teams pitched their strategy for how the company can become a household name across the globe. The three student teams, HIGHRes Studios, Odie Pictures, and Cool Wood Agency, each took a different approach in their recommendation at creating an inclusive, accessible, engaging campaign well supported by research and analytics.
The winning team, HIGHRes Studios, pitched a campaign focused on engaging the next generation of animators and young investors, as well as increasing the studio’s intellectual property recognition. Their pitch included handouts for the Pencilish team and the development of a scavenger hunt to increase brand buy-in.
- Ellie Massing ’24, Business of Art and Design
- Samantha Grimm ’23, Graphic Design
- Rebecca Chen ’23, Illustration)
“That was mind-blowing,” said Ansley Bancroft, the communications manager for Pencilish Animation. “It was beautifully done, and your presentation was right on point. It was so creative. You all really went above and beyond, and we are so impressed.”
Odie Pictures pitched a campaign that would turn Pencilish’s fan base into super fans – and build a following similar to what’s often seen in the sports industry.
- Todd Stephens Jr. ’23, Film
- Owen Christie ’23, Motion Design
- Samantha Zappola ’23, Illustration
The Cool Wood Agency team focused their campaign on the company’s international strategy, calling animation a universal language.
- Jazmina Obedova ’22, Business of Art and Design
- Chutiphon Phisitthanadun ’23, Visual Studies
- Riley Connelly ’23, Illustration
- Yuning Zhao ’23, Visual Studies
The Ringling College Business of Art and Design program integrates the disciplines of design and business management, equipping students with a passion for art and design with the skills they need to lead creative industries.