Tuesday August 1, 2006

Creating a Buzz

Procter & Gamble executives are so impressed with marketing campaigns developed by UD students that they've sent the concepts "lock, stock and barrel" to their ad agency.

Imagine a high-level marketing manager at what may be the world's leading consumer products company telling you that he's "going to put a million dollars into your idea right now."

Now imagine you haven't even graduated from college yet. Those are the words several School of Business Administration students heard when they presented three marketing campaigns to Procter & Gamble in the spring.

In the 2nd P&G Marketing Challenge, three teams of UD students presented advertising campaigns for the company's Prilosec OTC? brand for heartburn. What started out as a great academic opportunity for business students to get a taste of 'pitching' their product, may wind up having legs for commercial success. Procter & Gamble sent all three campaigns - "lock, stock and barrel" - to the ad agency that handles the brand.

"The students are presenting their ideas in a tiered board room right in front of these successful brand managers, who then go off into a secret room to make their judgment," said Dean McFarlin, chair of the management and marketing department.

"The level of intensity of something like this is unmatched in curriculum," McFarlin said.

"They're telling senior-level people what to do with a brand that has millions of dollars in sales, and that's extremely intimidating. To hear 'This is a better presentation than we've seen from well-known agencies' is a real compliment to our students."

Matt Pallini, a senior marketing and operations management major in the fall, has been called in for a number of job interviews because he's listed his P&G experience at the top of his resume.

"People are surprised I have this kind of experience before even graduating," Pallini said. "We spent the better part of three months putting together the campaign and I spent more time on this than all my classes last semester. But being able to list on my resume that I created and pitched a marketing campaign to one of the world's biggest companies works pretty well."

Procter & Gamble seems to agree. The company is talking with administrators in the School of Business Administration to arrange a 3rd Marketing Challenge in the fall for the company's Fibersure? brand. Considering that the consumer products giant is pitched 500 to 600 ideas per brand a year, and only takes about a half a dozen, UD students may have another opportunity to develop marketing campaigns that could make it onto the world stage.

"This has given Procter & Gamble new ideas that no one thought about before, probably because they're so close to it," McFarlin said. "And it gives P&G confirmation from these kids who are coming out of the blue that they're on the right track."

It also has confirmed some things for Megan Kroger, a member of one of the Prilosec OTC? teams, who credits the opportunity as an invaluable peek into the corporate world.

"It made a huge difference in my life because it provided me the knowledge of making this into my career," Kroger said. "Developing marketing campaigns has always grabbed my attention, and I knew this would either further my passions….or show me this is not truly what I want to be doing. I'm not saying we're not taught the basics of marketing a product, but it is the little things you will not see until you are in the real world."

Contact Dean McFarlin at 937-229-4928.