Advertising Students Explore Strategies with Dallas Start-Up Howdy Homemade Ice Cream

Students on the Strategic Brand Management advertising track have the opportunity to devise and present brand and communication strategies for the local Dallas start-up.


While theoretical projects are typically assigned to help students grasp concepts and hone skills learned in their courses, some Meadows students have the best of both worlds when they apply research and strategies to tackle projects for real products and brands.

This semester, graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in Advertising Account Planning courses are working on brand and communication strategies with Dallas start-up Howdy Homemade Ice Cream, whose mission is to support and employ teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs). First using research databases to find and synthesize market and consumer trends, and then engaging in primary research such as interviews, surveys, focus groups and participant observation, students team up to create brand strategy and specific initiatives for Howdy Homemade, which now has franchised scoop shops in six states and is gaining retail placement in major grocery chains with pint containers.

“Account planning provides a company with valuable insights to their brand, involving things like how a brand is currently perceived and how information and research can be used to shape future strategies,” explains Sarah Eckelkamp, a graduate student at the Temerlin Advertising Institute. “This project gives us hands-on account planning experience in the classroom and encourages us to practice our networking, presenting and communication skills.”

Students selected specific topics from an initial list of client needs, including a brand audit, category and competition analysis, target market trends, flavor preferences, hiring considerations for IDDs, and social media strategies, and then began their research.

“The information gathering and analysis that goes into account planning for a brand is both varied and extensive, and client briefings need to be both meaty and memorable”, said Dr. Alice Kendrick, who instructs both graduate and undergraduate students in the discipline. 

Undergraduate student Macy Christal accepted Kendrick’s challenge to brief the client in a memorable and creative way by getting into the character of a loyal Howdy Homemade customer and delivering a sobering eulogy, previewing what might happen if the brand did not recognize current market opportunities and challenges. Clad in black and standing before a tombstone with the brand’s name, she deftly detailed the realities of balancing a pro-social mission and selling a consumer product that has major established competitors.

Not only are advertising students getting to participate in hands-on, real-world project planning, but they also have the valuable benefit of networking with a talented Meadows alum. One of the Howdy Homemade executive team is an alumna of the Temerlin Advertising Institute and took a similar course from Kendrick in the late 1990s. 

“Working again with Jill Blair-Turner, who is such an accomplished marketing force in Dallas, is like a cherry on top of an ice cream sundae,” said Kendrick.