OSU beats Michigan in nationally televised business competition

The football field is not the only place where the Buckeyes triumphed over the Wolverines. On the nationally televised cable show, mtvU “Quad Squads,” a team of Fisher students gave the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business team a lesson on how to execute a winning marketing strategy.

Executives from Michigan-based Ford Motor Co., the corporate sponsor that challenged the rival schools to come up with a successful promotional event and marketing plan for its 2008 Focus automobile, hailed the Ohio State students as the victors in this contest.

Over an eight-week period beginning in September, an mtvU camera crew filmed the work of the four Fisher students for the four-part series. The conclusion aired on Nov. 27 with both teams presenting their plans and the results of promotional events to Ford and advertising executives at company headquarters in Dearborn, Mich.

“The things I will remember the most are the friendships I made, the long hours our team put in, the event we put on and, of course, the amazing feeling of beating Michigan,” said one of the team members, Jessica Kleinman, a senior in marketing and international business.

Kleinman’s teammates were Faraz Khan, a junior in business marketing and finance, Christopher Sparks, a senior in marketing and psychology, and Kelly Mirgon, a junior in business and marketing. The team said the competition provided them with real world professional experience and helped sharpen their marketing skills.

“The chance to create a marketing campaign and then being able to present our recommendations from consumer research to detailed execution to Ford executives was invaluable,” Sparks said. “It will be a great experience to talk about in job interviews and to build upon as we embark on our first careers, especially since many of our ideas will be incorporated into Ford's college marketing strategy.”

More than 300 Ohio State students attended the team’s October promotional event, “Sync My Ride,” on the Wexner Center plaza. The team showcased the Focus’ Sync technology, an integrated voice-activated hands-free cellular phone and entertainment system, by having students get in the car and interact with the new feature.

“I will definitely remember the long nights and many hours it took to put on a campaign like this,” Khan said. “The pressure, deadlines, budget, restraints as well as creative freedom forced our group to think outside of the box. This is similar to what I expect to see in the business world.”

While students indicated the competition was a good educational experience, they said having the mtvU cameras rolling as they conducted their work also gave them a dose of reality television entertainment.

“Seeing that side of television was definitely a different experience--the lighting and microphones,” Mirgon said. “We taped hours and hours of footage at different angles, saying certain lines two or three times. Some things you hear about reality TV proved to be true, such as dramatizing every small detail.”

As the winning team, all four students were offered internships at Ford and prizes that included an Apple iPhone with two years of free service and a laptop computer. All four episodes can be viewed on the Quad Squads Web site.