Young Koepke (’13) always loved art, so when she started her studies at Northern Kentucky University, she decided to major in it. That art wasn’t ultimately the right path for her is just the start of a story that finds her, today, considering things like Pokémon characters for a living.
“I had great professors,” Koepke says. “One particular professor realized I was not quite an artist, but I was kind of book smart in a way. She said art is great, but you can do art in many ways, and asked if I would consider trying different things.”
While Koepke still thought of herself as an art student, she was open to exploring her options. She signed up for a wide range of non-art classes, including Psychology 101.
“It hooked me,” Koepke says. “I loved learning about all these theories of why people do what people do.”
She enjoyed the class so much, in fact, that she ended up switching majors to psychology, which led her to a research study at Children’s Hospital. A social psychology class piqued her interest in marketing when the professor mentioned that many psychology majors go into market research. Research, she was starting to realize, was her true passion, and as graduation approached, she wondered what career could engage this interest.
After graduation, Koepke found work at a couple of marketing firms doing research and project management. Then, early last year, a recruiter found her on LinkedIn because of her skills and ability to speak Korean (her parents are from Korea, and Koepke spent time there as a kid). Koepke was offered, and promptly accepted, a position at Warner Brothers as a global insights analyst with their digital team—a job that involves plenty of market research.
Koepke currently lives in New York City, working remotely for her job, but she manages to stay close to home in her own way. She helps out NKU alumni whenever she gets an opportunity, and she’s a co-producer of PeteFest, a Louisville music festival that leverages her interests in entertainment, marketing and psychology (the charity event promotes youth mental health awareness).
“You can cultivate passion beyond classroom settings, even your career,” Koepke says. “You can seek out and look into different areas.”
Since starting the job last year, she has worked on several films, including the recently released “Detective Pikachu.” Koepke’s personal love for Pokémon made this an especially exciting movie to promote, as she understood how special it would be for moviegoers to see the characters on the big screen.
“As I dug deeper into what loyal audiences say, and also reflected on my own passion for the Pokémon franchise, we discovered insights and made story-driven recommendations to our client team that they implemented into the digital marketing campagins. It was very rewarding to see my work in real time online and to know I made a positive impact.”
The promotion’s success made Koepke proud, but she points out not every campaign leads to box-office hits.
“Some movies just don’t do well,” Koepke says. “I personally get disappointed, even though I worked on marketing it well.”
But failures are as important as successes, and Koepke encourages anyone interested in marketing research to go after it and explore different options.
“It’s okay to try and do different marketing,” Koepke says. “Marketing is very big—I would say learn about as many areas as possible. I think NKU does a great job kind of having different classes about each topic around that.”
And though she acknowledges market research might sound boring to some, Koepke insists it’s a pretty creative field.
“No, we don’t just sit in front of computers and punch numbers and read Excel sheets. There are days we do that work, but a lot of times we’re talking about consumer insights and telling the stories of people we are interested in,” Koepke says. “Knowing marketing research is a huge company advantage. I definitely recommend students look into marketing research.”