The first student-designed collegiate bag is debuting at H-E-B stores around the state. The reusable shopping bags reflecting the themes and values of Aggies, as well as H-E-B’s sponsorship of Texas A&M University’s athletic program.

The design was created by a group of Mays Business School students as part of a competition. The Century Oak and a big “gig “em” sign are centerpieces of the white design on maroon bags.

Designed by Mays students, H-E-B's new reusable shopping bags reflect the themes and values of Texas A&M, as well as the company's sponsorship of the university's athletic program.
Designed by Mays students, H-E-B’s new reusable shopping bags reflect the themes and values of Texas A&M, as well as the company’s sponsorship of the university’s athletic program.

Lisa C. Troy, a clinical associate professor at Mays Business School, says the advertising classes in the Department of Marketing provide students with first-hand experience working on real-world projects. Past partner organizations have included Loupot’s bookstores, the City of College Station, Texas A&M’s Drug and Alcohol Education Programs and Wired Ranch Advertising. “Working with a client forges relationships between the students and future employers, allows students to glimpse the decision making processes that occur in the firms, and motivates the students to do their best,” she says. “Plus, it is exciting for the students to see the results of their work actually implemented by the client firm.”

About 80,000 of the bags were printed, and they are being sold in more than half the stores, concentrated mostly around Central Texas in stores where Texas A&M items have been big sellers in the past.

H-E-B began more than 100 years ago and currently has more than 329 stores and 76,000 employees in Texas and Mexico. Julie Lenox, an advertising account manager for H-E-B, says the design was a clear winner to represent the Texas-based company. “We thought it had all the key elements we were looking for — it was identifiable with the university, it used the colors and it talked up the athletic sponsorship,” she says. “I think the bags are a great way for customers to show what they believe in and support, while helping out the Earth at the same time.”

A team of five surpassed nine other teams in the competition.

The project helped one student parlay his passion into a career. The main designer of the bag, Clay Coleman “09, went on to an advertising design school – Chicago Portfolio School – and is now an art director at a Dallas-based ad agency called Slingshot, where he works on concepting and designing everything from print ads to billboards, web sites and Facebook pages to TV spots and movie trailers, and product packaging.

The team of five beat nine other teams with their design, which Coleman describes as simple, with a solid message. “That’s the secret formula in advertising and design,” he says. “From what I recall, our team was actually meeting to work on a different project when we had this idea. The idea just came and it was so clear that this was the right direction. With eight words and an image we made an instant connection between the Aggie Spirit and caring for the environment. Boom – mission accomplished.”

Now Coleman says it is an honor to see the student project produced and in stores. “The most exciting thing about being a designer is to be able to point at something and say, “I did that,'” he explains. “The H-E-B bag was my first opportunity to feel that way, and I was hooked.”

Now he gets to work on projects like the H-E-B bag every day, and adds. “It’s a blast.”