November 21, 2003
Anderson Students Take 1st Place at National Brand Management Competition
LOS ANGELES — Last Thursday morning, a team of Anderson marketing students left LAX bound for the chilly plains of Minnesota to compete in the Elite Eight Brand Management Challenge — a national competition pitting eight of the nation's top marketing programs against each other.
Now in its third year, the Elite Eight was the brainchild of students at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. Anderson, Kellogg, Wharton, Haas, Fuqua, Michigan, Indiana, and Carlson have competed in the event since its inception in 2001. The event was sponsored this year by General Mills, 3M, Multifoods, Fallon, Phillip Morris, and Carlson Hospitality Worldwide.
The team consisted of second-years Natasha Crain and Glenn Oyoung and first-years Scott Judd, Alice Keh, and Rosie O'Neill. The team was presented with the case Thursday night and worked feverishly to meet the Saturday 7:30 a.m. deadline - getting just under four hours of sleep over the course of 36 hours and in the process bringing home 1st place for UCLA Anderson.
This year's case focused on the Brand & Asset Protection (B&AP) group within 3M's Safety and Security Systems Division. Teams were asked to develop a comprehensive brand management strategy for the newly formed B&AP group, whose products are focused on preventing counterfeiting.
Unlike past cases which have focused on consumer packaged goods, this year's case was selected because it challenged teams to think of brand management from a business-to-business perspective.
Adding to the challenge was the fact that the case writers, Carlson full-time students, worked with 3M to provide a data set that was intentionally left incomplete to spur creativity in the competition. Crain, who participated in the competition last year, commented "while last year's case was challenging, the nature of the business we were asked to analyze this year forced us to come up with even more creative analyses and solutions." Oyoung agreed, saying "this case was extremely tough to crack. It really forced us to draw on all the concepts we learned in marketing at Anderson."
After making an oral presentation at noon on Saturday, the UCLA Anderson team was congratulated on formulating an analyses and recommendations that were both comprehensive and creative. In particular, judges applauded the team's eleventh-hour attempt to collect information on consumer attitudes towards counterfeiting via an online survey sent to all full-time Anderson students. The team was surprised by the overwhelming support of the school — by 11 p.m. Pacific time over 150 students had completed the ten-minute survey.
"The team was really amazed that so many of our friends and classmates had taken the time to help us represent the school," said Judd. Judges were also particularly impressed with the creative promotion strategy and ad work that the team had been able to put together. "Whoever did the ad work, we have a place for you downstairs" joked one of the judges from Fallon, a leading advertising firm based in Minneapolis. The panel of judges also included high-ranking executives from 3M.
When asked to comment on the overall experience, team members unanimously agreed that it was one of the best experiences of their MBA careers.
"The greatest thing about the case competition was our team collaboration. Even though we were all working on just a few hours sleep, there was never a tense moment — we were laughing and having fun the entire time!" said O'Neill. Keh agreed, saying "the weekend was extremely rewarding — it was better than I had imagined." "We had great leadership and vision, especially from the second-years, which no doubt contributed to the end result. My involvement in this case competition reminded me that I have so much to learn," she added.
In addition to the respect of their peers (and cherished bragging rights), the team took home a trophy for the school's display case and a cash prize of ten thousand dollars. Michigan placed 2nd and Kellogg placed 3rd.
Will the team do it again next year?
"I'm graduating," said Oyoung, "so I'm off the hook. But coming back and getting congratulated by everyone is really nice and it shows that this is truly a win for all of Anderson, not just the five of us. I hope that next year the first-years have it in them to go back and show everyone at Elite Eight that Anderson is really a force to be reckoned with in marketing." After all, noted Crain, "things like this help build the Anderson brand."
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