MTSU advertising majors' social-media effort to fight community stereotypes has earned them acclaim in an international competition -- and a free trip to Washington, D.C. -- to present their campaign.
Juniors Kate Benton of Smyrna and Haley Bartley of Ooltewah, Tennessee, and senior Jane McCaffrie of Portland, Tennessee, showcased their project, "Double Take," earlier this month in Washington as part of a global competition sponsored by marketing and advertising firm EdVenture Partners and the U.S. Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The contest aimed to provide information to counter violent extremism from groups such as ISIL. MTSU's campaign received an honorable mention award in the competition.
Dr. Tricia Farwell, a professor in MTSU's School of Journalism, joined her students for the presentation in Washington, which Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas observed. A fourth student, December 2015 advertising graduate Danny Jones of Franklin, Tennessee, also was part of the "Double Take" creative team.
"We had a very positive response from the representatives of various government agencies, Facebook and others in attendance," Farwell said. "Our students were encouraged to continue to think in creative ways for the future of this campaign and campaigns in the future."
The MTSU students decided to focus their campaign on community stereotypes after seeing the negative effect created by controversy over Murfreesboro's Islamic Center.
Hundreds marched in protest in 2010 and 2011 after Rutherford County officials approved plans for a new mosque on Bradyville Pike near South Rutherford Boulevard. In 2012, opponents of that mosque filed a suit against Rutherford County to block construction of the worship space, but members were able to open the mosque in time to observe Ramadan that year.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case in 2014, and since then, the Murfreesboro mosque's membership has grown and its neighborhood expanded with events aimed at welcoming community visitors.
"The Double Take campaign strives to give people a platform to voice stereotypes they have encountered, encourage community members to 'take a second look' at the stereotypes in their lives and the way they perceive others," said Benton, who served as the team's leader.
"We hope to highlight commonalities ... while spreading a message of tolerance and acceptance to the university and Murfreesboro."
Double Take has multiple social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, and the team has distributed yard signs, posters and fliers throughout campus.
"Given the strong response to the T-shirts the students created for the campaign, we are exploring the possibility of selling the shirts to fund the campaign for the future," Farwell said. "Also, several government representatives expressed interest in helping us continue the project through sponsorship or other assistance."
Benton will be the special guest on the next edition of "MTSU On the Record," which will air from 5:30 to 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, and from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 28, on WMOT-FM (89.5 and http://www.wmot.org.)