Marketing students present brand ideas to President Gee

Published: 2011-04-25

The course was like a Marine Corps boot camp—grueling hours of tough and challenging exercises. The professor was compared to a brutal and unrelenting drill sergeant pushing his young charges to their limits.

However, “it was the best class of my entire Ohio State career,” said senior Kyle Girardi of the marketing course Promotional Strategy. Those sentiments were echoed by several of Girardi’s classmates.

“This class pushed me in ways I never expected,” said Katie Edwards, a third-year student graduating this spring. “This class really challenged me and made me expand my way of thinking.”

Edwards and Girardi, in describing Matta’s course, said it was the very embodiment of “action-based and experiential learning.” In addition to standard coursework, the students were required to participate in a “live” team project. “This class combined very informative class room teachings and it also allowed me to apply what I was learning while I was learning it,” said DeGerald L. Edwards, a team-mate of Katie, but no relation. 

 Last quarter, the students were handed the assignment of “Building Brand OSU.” Student teams worked throughout the quarter developing an Ohio State marketing campaign targeted at various segments of alumni. The students conducted marketing research, including gathering audience data, interviewing focus groups and conducting test campaigns.

At the end of the quarter, the students participated in a competition and had to present their campaign to the leadership of Ohio State’s Office of University Communications. The finalists presented their campaigns to Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee.

“The competition to pitch our idea to a ‘real’ company, in this case, Ohio State, made me feel like I was working at an ad agency trying to secure a major contract with a client,” said DeGerald, who was a member of the winning team, Gordon Geeks. “We worked as a team; however everyone contributed a key part to our campaign that made our final presentation successful.”

“Although it was an undergraduate marketing course, it was more of what I’d expect from an MBA-level class,” said Girardi, whose team, Gee’s Nuts, made it to the final round. All three students said Matta helped them to develop their critical thinking skills, through analyzing industry marketing campaigns and creating their Brand OSU campaign.

Katy Edwards, who worked as an intern last summer for a major national retailer, said the internship experience paled in comparison to her experience in the Promotional Strategy course. “Working on our brand project and winning the competition was the biggest thing I’ve accomplished in college,” she said. “It opened up so many doors; it definitely helped me land a great internship this summer.”
“When I told the managers I interviewed with about our OSU brand project they ate it up,” she added. “They told me they never met a 20-year-old student who had this much marketing research experience.” In September, Katy will begin working full-time in product development for national retailer Kohl’s at the company’s headquarters in Milwaukee.

Matta believes the high level of enthusiasm expressed by students last quarter was a result of working on a project for Ohio State. “I think the students felt personally vested in this project in a much different way than students working on live projects in other classes. For many of them, this was a labor of the heart because it was for Ohio State.”