Thirty-five students have decided to spend this week of their summer holiday participating in the Eric Rob & Isaac Brand Camp at the University of Central Arkansas. 

The group of middle schoolers will receive hands-on experience with brand development, how to write and shoot their own TV commercial spots, design their own merchandise and more during the camp, powered by the Conductor, the Little Rock-based branding firm and the university. 

This is the fourth year the event has been held, the Conductor providing the facility and camp counselors to administer the curriculum for the groups. 

Eric Langaster, of Eric, Rob & Isaac, told the Log Cabin Democrat during the 2018 event the company usually works for nonprofits and the like and wanted to find a way to work with children and pour back into that demographic, which is how the camp came about.

“Brand Camp was originally Isaac’s idea, but the three of us developed it from there,” company principal Rob Bell said in a new release from the firm. “We wanted to find a way that we could truly give back as an agency, and to our knowledge, there wasn’t anything like Brand Camp out there.” 

Langaster said there’s also a lot of aspects to the ad agency and marketing professional world that kids aren’t often exposed to and wanted to give them a way to get that experience from the pros in hopes that it would give kids both understanding and another career option they may not have had prior.

“We just looked around and thought [about] how we would’ve loved to have done something like that when we were kids and there was nothing like that in the market,” Langaster said. “It’s hands-on, it’s fun, you know.”

Bell said their primary goal was to serve as a “niche” for future creative leaders across the state and so, in 2016, the camp was started, held first at the group’s Little Rock offices located in the River Market. 

“Obviously, the first year was more intimate, and it let the kids see what goes on behind the doors at a real agency,” Bell said. “We only had 12 kids, though.”

He said they wanted to expand to a partnership with UCA and the Conductor because it would allow more kids the opportunity to experience the brand camp curriculum.

“We can definitely reach more kids through this great partnership,” Bell said. 

Conductor CEO Kim Lane previously told the LCD they loved the idea behind the partnership and were excited to help inspire that creativity and innovation in the group of young students. 

“It really was a perfect match,” she said. 

This camp, Lane said, gives students the chance to turn their ideas into reality.”

“Some of the biggest value, I think, is they’re learning a lot,” she told the LCD. “They’re learning about branding and marketing and product development but they’re learning it in a really fun and hands-on way. I think it’s one thing to learn out of a textbook but here, you’re actually seeing your ideas come to life.”

Eric Rob & Isaac selects each year’s client. In the past they have welcomed Yarnell’s Premium Ice Cream – the company produced Banana Pudding, limited-edition flavor that was conceived by students in Brand Camp – Mountain Valley Spring Water, Blue Sail Coffee – offered a UCA-themed drink, loosely developed during the camp – and Tacos 4 Life. 

This year’s featured client is the Arkansas Travelers. During the week, campers will be creating limited time only merchandise for the sports team, assets to promote it, including a Jumbotron commercial, point-of-sale poster and other social media ads, video production and editing assisted by Kangabloo Creative. 

“They are selected based on being one of Arkansas’ favorite brands to align with our mission as an agency,” Bell said. “Sometimes they are our clients, sometimes not. Ultimately, it’s a fun, Arkansas-based brand that kids can understand and get excited about.” 

Each group will showcase their project and pitch ideas at 11 a.m. Thursday in UCA’s College of Business. Around 100 people attended last year’s pitch day event including several media outlets, parents, students and others including judges UCA President Houston Davis and first lady, Jenny Davis. 

The president is returning as a judge for this year’s event but the panel will be adding newcomers Rusty Meeks, the Traveler’s assistant general manager, and Conductor Master Maker Jason Huselton.  

“At this age, anything is possible,” Bell said, in regards to the young camp participants. “Their creativity is limitless, because no one has told them something ‘can’t happen.’ We wanted to introduce them to the concepts of branding and marketing at an early age so it can develop further as they grow.”