August 5, 2015

Marketing leaders share brand insights with MBA students

Whether gaining insights from a marketing leader working on a brand revitalization and corporate turnaround, hearing how a company is driving category growth by attracting new users, or how to revitalize a core brand with innovation, graduate students at Fisher spent the summer receiving an inside look at the world of marketing.

Students in Fisher’s Full-time MBA and MBA for Working Professionals programs heard from guest speakers Brian Beitler, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Lane Bryant; John Sass, vice president and general manager of the garden division at The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company; and Richard Schneider, senior brand manager at Abbott Nutrition. The visitors shared their knowledge with students in Tammy Katz’s Brand Management course.

“These marketing and general management leaders shared tremendous insights and experience on how they are driving brand growth and profitability,” said Katz, an adjunct professor, CEO of Katz Marketing Solutions and former Fortune 500 brand management executive. “Being able to engage with professionals with proven track records of success was an invaluable part of this course’s brand management curriculum.”


Brian Beitler, Lane Bryant

Beitler spoke to students about the challenges associated with rejuvenating a stagnant brand, as he helped launch Lane Bryant’s “I’m No Angel” campaign, which has been tremendously successful. Beitler provided an inside look at the power of social media and social awareness and shared how he and the Lane Bryant team integrated that momentum into their marketing and paid advertisements.

 “Being a social brand is not about social media,” he said. “Being a social brand is about wanting to have a sincere dialog or conversation with your customer and how that translates across every single touchpoint and experience that you have in a store. It’s holistic in its approach, and you have to think very clearly about every element. The world has shifted. This is a world now where it’s really about the consumer and not the brand.”




John Sass, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company

John Sass

A marketing and MBA alum of Fisher, Sass provided students with a close look at how The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company is evolving its brand to appeal to the next generation of gardeners.  He spoke of the influence social media and trends such as locally-grown and backyard-to-table produce have had on product development and marketing plans such as Miracle-Gro’s new “Life Starts Here” ad campaign.

 “The challenge we have is that our core consumer base is aging.”  Sass said. “We had to start thinking different and younger.   There’s something cool about growing your own food, and we wanted to tap into that. We had to shift our thinking and our priorities to attract and resonate with a new, younger demographic.”




Richard Schneider, Abbott Nutrition

Schneider offered a high-level overview of the marketing plan that helped Abbott Nutrition launch a new marketing campaign for Similac with OptiGRO, the company’s exclusive baby formula. He also shared insights into how his experience in sales helped him to effectively manage a brand such as Similac and the common internal and external challenges that occur when launching a marketing campaign.

“Brand management is the hub of the wheel,” Schneider said. “Brand managers set the direction and course, and the cross-functional team is what gets us there. A lot of times you’ll find that there isn’t complete buy-in cross-functionally at the onset of a project or campaign. That’s a very real and common challenge when managing a brand and launching new products in a competitive space that every brand manager needs to invest in.”