The 19th annual Wake Forest MBA Marketing Summit, sponsored by PepsiCo, started in the Wake Forest Demon Deacon football locker room Thursday night.
Fourteen teams – eight MBA and six undergraduate – rushed out onto the field in freezing temperatures to the tune of their respective schools’ fight songs and they tore through paper signs bearing the names of their schools to the cheers of onlookers up in the stands. The field featured Wake Forest cheerleaders and the Demon Deacon mascot as well as a large truck bearing pictures of the new Pepsi cans. After the teams were introduced by the voice of the Demon Deacons football team, members rushed up the stairs of the new Deacon Tower to the warmth of the club level, where they were introduced to their fellow competitors and students at the Wake Forest business schools as well as faculty and staff and executives from PepsiCo.
“I’m so glad that we decided to reveal the sponsor early,” said Dana Lee, one of the Marketing Summit’s co-chairs along with Chris Jensen and Joshua McCutchen. “We had 96 applications for eight spots and it’s because we have a great sponsor and a $50,000 grand prize.”
In addition to Wake Forest University’s Babcock School, other participating MBA programs in the event include: The University of Washington/Michael G. Foster School of Business; The University of Virginia/Darden Graduate School of Business Administration; Ohio State University/Fisher College of Business; The University of Chicago/Booth Graduate School of Business; The University of Notre Dame/Mendoza College of Business; Harvard University/Harvard Business School; and The University of California at Berkeley/Haas School of Business. The University of Washington team which strode on the field bearing matching black umbrellas, holds the defending champion title from last year’s MBA case competition.
Participating schools in the Undergraduate Challenge are University of Pennsylvania, University of Maryland, Boston College, Brandeis University, Brigham Young University and Wake Forest University.
McCutchen and Katie Miller introduced each team with a number of questions that were team specific, such as how the BYU team was going to make it through a 36-hour case competition without any caffeine. “We’re going to do group exercises and drink a lot of Tropicana products,” said one of the team members, laughing. (Tropicana is one of PepsiCo's businesses.) “We did a lot of research, visited a Pepsi bottling plant and developed a mock presentation,” said BYU team member Steve Wrigley.
After the team introductions, members got a chance to eat hot dogs and hamburgers — Carolina style — before heading back to the Worrell Professional Center, where they were given their cases before going into 36-hour lockdown.
MBA students Anup Dashputre and Paul Nocida helped write both the MBA and undergraduate cases with PepsiCo’s Michelle Rule and Robert Le Bras-Brown. The undergraduate case focuses on sustainability of its products’ packaging, the company’s talent and the environment. The MBA case focuses on a new snack from Frito-Lay, another PepsiCo business. The snack, which is 100% natural and nut based, is called TrueNorth™.
“I want to tell you how impressed I am with this event, the sheer size and the talent,” Rule said. “If this is any indication, we’re all in for a treat.”