Fanshawe students empower Village Creative

A photo of Liz Gray and Lina Manuel with students at Village Creative in Inovation Village. CREDIT: ASIAH PRESTANSKI
Lina Manuel (left) and Liz Gray (right) work with the students at the new Village Creative in Innovation Village.

Village Creative is a marketing agency run exclusively by Fanshawe students from various programs, such as marketing, photography, graphic design, public relations, and web development. It was created when the Lawrence Kinlin School of Business (LKSB) proposed a partnership with Innovation Village, birthing the visionary concept of a collaborative digital advertising agency.

Village Creative caters to small businesses and NGOs through partnerships with Pillar Non-Profit, the Small Business Centre, Tech Alliance, Leap Junction and London’s Cross-Cultural Learner Centre (CCLC). Village Creative also enjoys exclusive partnerships with industry leaders such as Google, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, and WordTracker.

“It is a way to integrate experiential learning with the community, and students in their postgraduate year of the marketing program can apply to be a part of it instead of taking three of their classes,” a Fanshawe faculty member Liz Gray said. Gray is renowned for creating and teaching Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and Web Analytics courses at Fanshawe.

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Gray collaborates with Lina Manuel, a Marketing Professor at Fanshawe, as a faculty supervisor for the marketing agency.

“We recruit clients and oversee all project work to ensure high quality and maximize student learning,” Gray explained.

The agency’s service portfolio encompasses various digital marketing strategies, including user testing, social media strategy development, customer relationship management (CRM) system implementation, SEO optimization, website design, and paid media campaigns. Gray underscored that Village Creative’s mission is for students to apply classroom theories in the real world. In this way, students gain insights and skills to equip them for success in the business landscape.

Asiah Prestanski, a marketing management student, attested to the transformative experience of working with Village Creative.

“We meet with customers, discuss their needs, and agree on actionable strategies,” Prestanski said. “It’s a hands-on learning experience that broadens our skill set and expands our horizons.”

Prestanski further elaborated on the agency's operational dynamics, revealing ten work teams of 3-4 members, with four collaborating online and six meeting in person. Each team is tasked with managing two distinct clients: a for-profit and a not-for-profit organization, fostering a well-rounded learning experience.

While Village Creative facilitates client interactions primarily through its website, Gray acknowledged the agency’s longstanding reputation and extensive networking within the community.

“Much of our clientele comes through word of mouth, bolstered by our strong connections with the Community Tech Alliance and small business centre advertising agencies,” Gray said.