Communication Connection

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Department News

What are Freakers and Why Does COM Studies Have Them?

Monday, December 21, 2015

By David Smith

Branding can be difficult. It can be hard to gain name recognition when a multi-million dollar ad campaign is out of the question. How does an organization get their name out to the public in a meaningful and memorable way that will avoid breaking the bank? This is quite a dilemma for many organizations. The Department of Communication Studies is one such organization that struggled with this.

The COM Studies Department at UNCW started with promotional business cards. In 2013 the department came out with their own pens, featuring their new brand and UNCW house logo. These pens were given to all the guest lecturers, visitors, and alumni who would attend events at the school. Things changed again when COM Studies senior lecturer Jennifer Chin happened to catch a particular episode of the popular ABC television show “Shark Tank”.

The featured product that caught Chin’s attention was a Freaker. A Freaker is a one-size-fits-all beverage insulator. Similar to a koozie mixed with a sock, Freakers are customizable and made locally in the USA. More than that, the company that makes Freakers, Freaker USA, was founded in Wilmington, NC in 2011 and continues to operate out of Wilmington. It was after learning all this from Shark Tank that Chin did a little more research and found that Freakers might work well for the COM Studies Department.

What makes Freakers great marketing tools? One of the selling points for the COM Studies Department using Freakers as their tool for increasing brand awareness is that Freaker USA is local. Being anchored in Wilmington means more money stays in the local community. But more than this, being anchored in Wilmington means that when guest lecturers and visitors come to UNCW, they are leaving with an actual piece of Wilmington.

In addition to this, Freakers build brand awareness in people other than the owner. A pen is usually only read by whomever is using it, it cannot be seen across a room. But a Freaker wrapped around a water bottle standing on a desk can easily be seen from anywhere in the room.

It is not just the COM Studies Department that is changing the direction its branding is going. In early 2015, the UNCW Athletic Department began putting its logo on Freakers as well. With as popular as these Freakers have quickly become, do not be surprised if other departments and organizations at UNCW soon follow suit.

In an age where brands are paraded left and right on free merchandise, finding a product that both captures the user’s attention in a positive way while also being financially smart can be a difficult thing to accomplish. For COM Studies, the hope is that Freakers can be the solution to this problem for years to come. Freakers are a fun way to expand recognition that is both efficient and effective. Find out how to get your own COM Studies Freaker on our alumni webpage