Last Saturday, the Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals (CAMP) invited marketing students from all over the GTA to participate in a unique competition that tested their marketing and presentation skills in a high-pressure situation. And these students didn’t just cope—they exceeded all expectations.
The Amazing Case competition, held at Ryerson University, was a play on the traditional case competition format, where teams of students would analyze a defined marketing problem, brainstorm possible strategies and solutions, and then present them in front of a panel of judges. The teams were asked to generate a marketing strategy for CAMP that would increase membership among the student population.
But instead of the normal week-to-month long prep time, The Amazing Case participants only had two hours. In addition, the judging panel was composed entirely of industry luminaries such as John Lettieri, CEO of Hero Burgers, KC Shendelman, Director of Brand Loyalty & Innovation at Rogers Communications, and Shannon Denny, Director of Brand Communications at Coca-Cola Refreshments Canada.
In addition, the finals stage introduced a further wrinkle in the form of a “Roadblock”: in the final round, the teams had to slash their proposed budget in half and revise all of their strategies accordingly.
But the students were more than up to the task. Team after team delivered an astounding level of insight and creativity to the competition—so much that the judges had to nominate four finalists instead of the usual three. And even then it was a very close thing. Tracey Quennell, Director of Business Development at Canada Post, said, “It was a very difficult decision. We voted and re-voted again, and we were really impressed by the level of preparedness in such a short time and the amount of elements they covered in consideration. They did a fantastic job.”
But in the end, there could only be one winner. Team 10 from Ryerson University, composed of Catherine Klostranec, Jason Kraemer, and Alex Mihas, won the judges over with their presentation’s focus on long-term strategy and sustainable growth.
Jason shared some of his team’s experiences during the event. “It was a stressful two hours. Our first priority was finding the high-level problems. It’s easy to find the initial problem, but then you have to back up and find the bigger problem, back it up again, and get the broad view. But we came together as a team really well. We’re all smart, we all like marketing, and we loved doing it.”
Alex Farinha-Henry, President of the Ryerson Marketing Association, encouraged other students to compete in future case competitions. Not just to win, but to learn. “Case experience in general is a huge takeaway, because you understand the business environment. I just finished an internship and I realized that the experience you get in a case competition mirrors what you have to do to work with senior leadership.”
The judges were just as encouraging. John Lettieri, CEO of Hero Burgers, said, “It’s really great to see how these students—especially the younger ones—are driven to do such a presentation. I say do it and go for it. And if it’s not a success it’s definitely a learning experience.”
What do competitions like this mean for the industry? Suresh Parmachand, Strategic & Creative Director of Stratovate, summed it up: “The amount of talent that’s going to be coming into this industry is going to be fantastic. It’s not just going to change the paradigm that exists for marketers, but it’s also going to help shape the industry.”
Patrick Icasas is a freelance writer and content marketer. When he’s not helping businesses sound awesome, he writes fiction and blogs about how to suck less. Tweet him at @patrickicasas to get a snarky response.