A plan proposing a partnership between a major credit card company and Yahoo! won the 16th annual Wake Forest MBA Marketing Case Competition for a team of MBA students from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University on Saturday.
The competition, hosted by Wake Forest University’s Babcock Graduate School of Management, pitted MBA students from eight schools who had 36 hours to respond to the marketing challenge posed by event-sponsor Yahoo!: What kind of brand extension would be best for the Internet company to pursue?
According to Cammie Dunaway, Yahoo!’s chief marketing officer (CMO), the Kellogg School’s response centered on a device loaded with an RFID microchip that would capture data about Yahoo! users’ offline purchases and allow the company to deliver a more personalized experience to its users.
“It was a big idea that we’re excited about taking back with us and investigating,” Dunaway said of the Kellogg School presentation, which earned the team $5,000.
Teams from the University of Washington and Vanderbilt University finished second and third, respectively, in judging by a panel of leading marketing executives. Judges included Dunaway; Brad Brinegar, chief executive officer of the McKinney advertising agency; Amy Curtis-McIntyre, founding CMO of Jet Blue; Frank O’Mara, CMO of Alltel; William Pate, CMO of BellSouth; Todd Townsend, CMO of Sonic drive-in restaurants; and Judy Verses, senior vice president of regional marketing operations for Verizon.
Other schools with teams competing were UCLA, Michigan, Texas, Wisconsin and Wake Forest. According to Dunaway, ideas for brand extensions presented by other schools included a Yahoo! pub and a company-themed hotel.
“All of the presentations reinforced to me the need for us to extend our brand beyond cyberspace and to connect in a more emotional way with our consumers,” Dunaway said.
The competition was one of three parts of the Wake Forest MBA Marketing Summit. Other events included an undergraduate marketing challenge and a marketing forum, held Friday at Wake Forest’s Wait Chapel, that brought together leading marketing executives to discuss the theme “Using Innovation and Creativity to Drive Your Brand.” The forum also included a creative advertising competition sponsored by the American Association of Advertising Agencies.
A team of students from Emory won the undergraduate case competition, also sponsored by Yahoo! That case asked for recommendations for Yahoo!-themed retail and location-based entertainment for 18- to 24-year-olds. Florida (second) and Boston College (third) also competed.
The Trone advertising agency won the creative ad competition for its “Grow Slow” campaign for the Healthtex line of children’s clothing. Other agencies competing included Coyne Beahm Shouse (“Socks on the Run” campaign for Hanes), Mullen (“What’s In” campaign for retailer TJ Maxx) and Woodbine (“Us” campaign for Piedmont Federal Savings and Loan).
Executives joining Curtis-McIntyre, Dunaway, Townsend and Verses as participants in two panel discussions at Friday’s marketing forum included Jim Garrity, CMO of Wachovia; Chris Lowe, president of food service and hospitality for the Coca-Cola Co.; and Gad Romann, CEO and creative director of the New York firm The Romann Group.
Yahoo! joins a list of past sponsors of the case competition that includes Apple Computer, Coca-Cola, EchoStar Communications, GlaxoSmithKline, Heineken USA, IBM, Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse, Microsoft, Planters Life Savers, R.J. Reynolds, Sara Lee and Wachovia Wealth Management.
The competition exposes students to realistic business challenges and gives prospective employers an opportunity to gauge the students’ marketing skills. It also provides a number of creative solutions for the company, encouraging teams to think unconventionally in developing their marketing plans.
All Marketing Summit events are organized by Wake Forest MBA students. Co-chairs for this year’s events were second-year students Krista Brinkley, Beth Butrymowicz and Roberto Sanchez. More than half of all Wake Forest full-time MBA students worked as volunteers for the events.
More information on the Marketing Summit is available at www.mba.wfu.edu/marketingsummit.