Featured business person: Shelley Downs

Shelley Downs

Brand director, Greteman Group

Downs owns a dachshund named “Pronto Pup.”

That probably tells you all you need to know about her commitment to the Kansas State Fair, one of her chief clients at the Greteman Group branding agency.

“I grew up going to the Kansas State Fair,” Downs said. “Every year, my mom and dad would take me and my sister out the second Friday. He felt like it wasn’t as crowded as Saturday and Sunday. I have a lot of knowledge and background on it.”

Downs, 29, grew up in Wichita and graduated from South High. She studied journalism at Butler Community College, where she was managing editor of the student paper. She briefly majored in social work at Wichita State University — “I realized I didn’t have the patience for it” — before switching to integrated marketing and communications, helping restart and heading the Public Relations Society of America’s student chapter during her time at WSU.

She spent a year working for Cox Communications before moving to the Greteman Group, where she’s brand manager for Flight Safety International and the state fair.

She’s been part of the agency’s attempt to rebrand the event for a younger crowd. This year’s campaign celebrates the fair’s 100th anniversary with the tag line, “100 Years of the Kansas State Fair Never Gets Old.”

“We want to reach out to the urban 18-to-34 demographic that like hanging out with their friends, talking on the phone, walking around the mall with their friends, to make sure they’re aware of the fun things there are to do at the Kansas State Fair,” Downs said, adding that attendance records and surveys show the campaigns are working. Downs spends all 10 days of the fair, which starts Sept. 7, in Hutchinson.

Downs and her husband, Robert, an engineer at Spirit AeroSystems, enjoy boating and dachshund racing — yes, that’s right — in their spare time. In addition to Pronto Pup, they own a dachshund named Luego, Spanish for “later.”

“There are wiener dog races around the state, and that’s a lot of fun,” she said. “They’re for people who are really passionate about their dachshunds.”

Joe Stumpe