The rebranding of Underdog Productions

Taylor Sexton

Arts & Features Editor

tsexton@unca.edu

After more than 30 years as Underdog Productions, the student-led programming board took the long-awaited leap to re-name their brand to Asheville Campus Entertainment.

We noticed that there was a large discrepancy between what we wanted to be known for and what we were known for. The name Underdog

Josh McCormack explains the rebranding from Underdog Productions to Asheville Campus Entertainment

Productions was a little confusing, a lot of people thought we were some kind of theater troupe or video production team,” said junior KG Brake, ACE vice president of internal affairs. “ACE is so much more than that and we wanted to clean the slate and show people who we really are.”

Talk of rebranding began early last year after the executive board went to a conference for student activity programmers. This conference included a seminar on rebranding that President of ACE, junior Julia Quigley, attended.

“I just happened to go to one that was about rebranding and I didn’t really think anything of it, but I went there and it was hosted by the University of Miami. They’re a pretty big school and they actually did the whole rebrand themselves, so I learned about the process through there and everything they were saying was just hitting me over and over again,” Quigley said. “I found it so inspiring and I loved it.”

When the group met up for lunch afterwards, Quigley brought up the seminar and how she thought it was a good idea for them to consider. She said rebranding had always been in the back of everyone’s mind, but it was this seminar that gave the final push.

“We just put together a PowerPoint and we were like ‘this is what we think should change.’ And we showed it to everyone else and they were like ‘OK,’ so that’s how it started. It was just by a session I saw and I just realized that maybe we weren’t as great as we could be,” Quigley said.

The process of rebranding was not a quick one though. According to Quigley, it took nearly a year.

It seemed crazy for it to take so long, Quigley said, but it was a matter of getting everyone else on board with the idea. From there, they had to come up with names.

“There are a lot of things you have to think about that seem small, but are actually a big deal. Brainstorming what words we wanted people to think of when they heard Underdog Productions was basically where we started. Then we crafted a new system for the organization to operate under in order to achieve those goals, then we topped it all off with a new name and logo,” Brake said.

The team went through several name ideas: Bulldog Entertainment, SPACE and Campus Activities Board — CAB for short — before they landed on the name ACE.

After deciding on a name, new logo and mission statement, they had to pass the new information up to Highsmith Student Union to get it approved since ACE operates through the student union.

Quigley said she was thankful for the marketing team and all of their help because they were with ACE every step of the way.

“It took about a year of just tons and tons of meetings and discussions about what’s going to work best for us and what we’ll do for our university as well,” Quigley said.

Quigley said she sees the rebranding as a fresh start, even though they did not completely change.

“We still have some of the same events that people love. We’re still sort of set up the same way, but fresh as in this executive team is the best. I really do think that because of them, we’re getting these fresh, new looks on things I’ve never considered before,” Quigley said. “Our main goal is, you know, we’re events for students by students.”

Brake said she sees this rebranding as a major glow up, because while some of their existing principles and history are still in place, they needed an update.

“While it is definitely new, we’re still drawing on the knowledge and some traditions of the old UP executives. The organization has existed for decades, so there’s plenty of old ideas to revisit. We still put on the same kinds of events as UP and still use a committee system, but our energy is new and everyone on the team continues to look for ways to improve, rather than just doing what’s always been done,” Brake said.

Junior Josh McCormack, director of the cinemas department in ACE, said he felt like the update was a long time coming.

“I felt like, you know, with Highsmith getting an update, with everything happening and feeling like this is kind of a new restart, we felt like our label had just been kind of dated,” McCormack said. “Underdog Production wasn’t a great representation of who we were. When I was a freshman, I thought it was some sort of production office, like worked in photography or film or something, which isn’t really what it is. We put on events so we wanted to have a brand that would communicate that a lot better.”

McCormack said he thinks that rebranding gave them an opportunity to experiment more.

For McCormack’s section specifically, they have begun doing more events before movies start, giving people more incentive to get to movies early and even host encore shows for bigger movies.

McCormack said they plan to do a movie lock in this year for a Lord of the Rings marathon.

According to Brake, some of the major differences between UP and ACE is that ACE focuses more so on collaborations and diversity-centered events through a newly added committee called Community.

“ACE focuses more on the general member experience than UP did and we now hold ourselves to higher standards of events and teamwork. Basically, we have a new face, a new name and a new attitude,” Brake said.

Quigley said that another new add-on to ACE was the new vice president of external affairs position. This person will handle collaboration and reach out to members of the Asheville community, as well as the campus community, including programs such as the Student Government Association and UNCA Out.

“Everybody gets a calendar invite to come and join us in our office and just talk about upcoming events that they have or that we have and how we can support each other. And that also just helps get the word out about us and all the other organizations, which is why we’re here,” Quigley said.

Quigley said she’s also noticed a larger number of people coming to events since the rebrand. Their hypnotist show had around 200 people turn out, the Avengers: Infinity War showing in the quad had 100 or more people show up and Craft Works events regularly see 50 to 70 people.

“We usually see pretty steady, good numbers at the beginning of the semester and then they usually tend to die down as the semester goes on, but so far it’s been pretty consistent and we haven’t seen the drop yet,” Quigley said. “I like to think it’s because of the rebrand that maybe our promotions are better. I think our logo makes more sense and our name makes more sense.”

Although a lot of new has come with the rebranding, ACE will still host some of their traditional events, such as Bubble Day in the fall and Lawn Party in the spring.

As far as new events go, there’s the movie lock-in coming this semester, talk of students seeing the premiere of Captain Marvel on International Women’s Day and collaborations with other student organizations to have a big pumpkin carving contest in October.

“We would love more people to come and join this. We’re a really big family and we love doing this and we love hearing feedback from everybody,” Quigley said. “This is the student activities fee of where a lot of our budget comes from, so we want to make sure we’re giving the students the events that they want.”

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