November 22, 2011

Big City, Big Dreams, Big Win

By Samantha Wilber
Business Management and Marketing, 2012

Madison Avenue Advertising Track Winning Team
From left to Right: Krysti Shelton, UT; Mike Tolar, WY;
 Samantha Wilber, RI; and Carman Hoffman, ND
 “Where Today’s Students Become Tomorrow’s Leaders”, an inspirational message behind the Collegiate DECA Leadership Academy’s (CLA) mission to help students improve their leadership abilities and build self-confidence. The CLA conference in New York City, held November 17-19, 2011, offered students the opportunity to develop and strengthen their professional abilities in creating winning teams, conflict management, and developing strategies for effective communication. The conference was not only educational but provided a means of networking with business professionals. Some students received job offers, others obtained valuable internship opportunities, and many had an experience that will help shape their professional character. The conference welcomed approximately 380 students from 35 different colleges all over the United States. Seven students and I, from Johnson & Wales University’s Providence campus, accompanied by experiential education coordinator Leslie Migneault, attended this conference.

On Thursday November 17th we boarded the Amtrak in pursuit of the big city. As the train grew close to approach our destination, I saw for the first time the bright lights of the New York City skyline and was amazed by its beauty. Not only was the trip an opportunity to compete, it also gave my peers and I the opportunity to explore the city.

The first night in the city, I immediately chose to walk to Time Square and see what all the hype was about. As marketing and advertising is my passion, I was overwhelmed by the creativity and amount of media streaming all over the buildings from the rooftops all the way down to the sidewalks. I was dazed by the fact that the commercial use of space was so brilliant, as they used motion within the ads, as well as huge projections on building walls. The most compelling part of the city was the window displays of the Macy’s flagship store. Each window had spectacular holiday displays, some integrated motion, touch screen abilities, celebrity inspirations, and high-end fashion.

Day two was the start of the conference where I met with my team for the first time in the Madison Avenue Advertising Track. An interesting aspect of the conference was the fact that teams were made up of individuals from different colleges and you got to meet new people and work together. My team included three other students; Krysti Shelton from Utah, Carman Hoffman from North Dakota and Mike Tolar from Wyoming. The day began with a tour of the J. Walter Thompson (JWT) advertising headquarters. It was interesting to see the inside of an advertising company and gain knowledge of the daily operations. With over 200 offices in more than 90 countries, JWT is a true global network and is one of the world’s best well-known marking communications brand. A few of their clients include Macys, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft, Coca-Cola, NestlĂ©, Nike, Barbie, and Hewlett Packard. The tour was followed by three presentations made by employees of three major companies. The first was made by Mark Truss, the director of brand intelligence at JWT, followed by Rob Scalea, the chief executive officer of Brand Union, and Adam Potashnick, the global media director of MediaCom. After the presentations we were presented with our case study.

Our client for the case was Brand USA, which is a company that promotes foreign travel to the United States. Our job was to act as a marketing firm and pitch our ideas to a panel of judges. The judging panel representing Brand USA for the pitch were Mark Truss, the director of brand intelligence at JWT, Adam Potashnick, the global media director of MediaCom, Sarah O’Neil, the business development director at Brand Union, and Kristen Henkels, an account manager at JWT. The goals were to define the target markets and demographics of our potential clientele, create a brand position for the company and identify which media to incorporate. We had 24 hours to complete the strategic marketing plan and then had 15 minutes to present to our client. An appealing twist to the evening ended with a presentation made by the judges incorporating the actual marketing plan they developed and presented to Brand USA. It was pleasing to see how much our plan coincided with many of the same aspects of their own.

On the third day, presentations were made and an award ceremony was held. I sat anxiously as National Collegiate DECA officers read the names of students who had placed in other tracks; Sports & Entertainment Marketing, International Business & Finance, Hospitality & Culinary Arts and Fashion Merchandising & Retail Management. Finally the winners of the Madison Avenue Advertising Track were called and I was thrilled to hear that my teammates and I were awarded first place. I should note, Michelle Aliquo, a JWU freshman culinary student and her team placed second in the Hospitality & Culinary Arts Track.

Creating a strategic marketing plan for this case study was a lot of hard work, but it was also a lot of fun and something from which I am sure to benefit. The experience helped me build skills in marketing research, strategy development, branding, media buying, and creative. These abilities are going to be an asset to my skill set that will help me with my career goal as an integrated marketing communications executive.

See more photos here.