Student-led design group Egghead transitions into full-service ad agency

Annie Bolin

UMKC’s student design group, Egghead, is venturing into new territory as it transitions to a full-service advertising agency.

At Egghead, students are in charge. When Associate Professor of Studio Art Paul Tosh established the organization more than 15 years ago, it was UMKC’s premier student design group, with an average staff of six.

Until this year, Egghead members, mainly studio art majors, focused on client-driven design work, including poster and brochure design, branding development and web design, Tosh said.

Now, in collaboration with Dr. Ye Wang of UMKC’s Department of Communication Studies, Egghead is inviting communication studies majors to join.

Students can enroll in a cross-listed course for art and communication studies majors alike, which places them in a variety of Egghead roles like account planner, project manager, designer and copywriter. Last semester, the class had more than 30 students who worked in teams to design advertising campaigns for four clients.

“This allowed students on both sides to experience working with others in an agency setting and experience what is required to completely bring a project together, from original planning to completion,” Tosh said.

Going forward, through the course “ART/Comm-ST 493, Egghead: Student Advertising Agency,” Egghead members will work with actual clients to produce real-world marketing projects, Tosh said.

He said these solutions will involve design, art direction, photography, web design, production management, copywriting, public relations, social media and motion graphics.

Egghead rebranded its own social media presence in preparation for this transition and is using their Instagram account to introduce members and market the agency’s services.

 Junior studio art major and Egghead designer Makayla Booker expressed excitement for the change.

“Social media is how we will get the word out that Egghead is up and ready to go,” Booker said.

Senior communication studies major Serena Stoetzer, who is a project manager at Egghead, added that social media is a tool for the agency to draw in new members.

“Not as many people know about us on campus as we would like, so we’re just wanting some exposure and to reach out to students and say, ‘Hey, look at what you can do at Egghead,’ because it’s great real-world experience,” Stoetzer said.

Booker said their social media presence could bring new clients to Egghead, which is a goal for the agency as it expands its services.

“We hope that we will entice other clients, but who we work with has always been fluid,” Tosh said.

In the past, the majority of Egghead’s clientele was limited to the UMKC community, including the Art & Art History Department, the Swinney Center and Lucerna at UMKC’s Honors College. Beyond campus, Egghead has worked with the Guadalupe Center, the Black Repertory Theatre and the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center, Tosh said.

A diverse clientele is important to Egghead’s members as they bulk up their portfolios before graduation.

“Having these connections in the community is really helpful for students getting ready to graduate,” said senior studio art major Emily Juliana.

Juliana, a project manager and designer at Egghead, said she hopes this opportunity for real-world experience entices new students to join as Egghead’s social media channels grow over the summer.

One challenge to Egghead’s transition is UMKC’s move to online instruction, since members often work in person with their clients.

Despite the difficulties, Egghead has big plans.

“In general, we’re trying to take it a little bit farther than campus, but we’re still really familiar with everything going on around campus,” Stoetzer said. “The plan is that we’re able to charge for our services and then reimburse students at Egghead for their work, like a paid internship.”

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