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Quinlan students win big at national marketing competition

Quinlan students win big at national marketing competition

“Oriental Pearl” (pictured), which included Ruimin Gong, Xiaoqi Lu, Lingfan Ni, and Fan "Rachel" Pan, and team “3 and ONE,” which included Xuanrui “Connie” Chen, Lauren Lakomek, Jianghui Wen, and Shuwei Zhao, took home national marketing honors.

By Travis Cornejo | Student reporter

Several Loyola students took top honors at a national marketing competition over the summer.

The 2015 Collegiate ECHO Marketing Challenge asked students to create an integrated marketing campaign promoting DirectTV’s Refer-a-Friend program. The budget: $1 million. Hundreds of students from dozens of universities competed for top honors and recognition.

At the end, two Quinlan teams rose to the top: Team “Oriental Pearl” placed second among the field of graduate student teams. Team “3 and ONE” received an honorable mention for their creative strategy.

Both teams of students were in professor Mary Ann McGrath’s Integrated Marketing Communications Campaigns class. 

“It’s a national competition, and when we participate in it, we do very well,” McGrath said. “The contest challenge utilizes all the expertise they have developed throughout their MSIMC degree program.”

“3 and ONE” team member Xuanrui “Connie” Chen agreed that Quinlan prepared her team to succeed in this competition—and the business world.

“What I really like about Quinlan is we got a lot of opportunities to work with real companies and solve real problems,” she said. “Nearly all of my assignments were proposals like this. What I’ve learned in different classes all empowered me in different aspects of marketing.”

Winning Ideas

The “Oriental Pearl” team targeted costumers 35 to 50 years old, who live in urban centers, and earn between $50,000 and $100,000 annually. Their strategy emphasized personalized offers and a social media effort directed at customers.

Team “3 and ONE” proposed a “Click Clique, Catch Cash” program. The campaign included an online contest, a direct-mail campaign, and a television commercial.

“I think what worked was it was cutesy and catchy,” Lakomek said. “It was something that would stick with you. And the way our video worked, there were a lot of auditory cues. People won’t forget it when they see the commercial.”

She credits an earlier class in media planning with helping her team craft a successful presentation. To show DIRECTV what their return on investment would be, they used a media-forecasting funnel, a tool she learned about in an earlier Quinlan class.

Teamwork and a Tight Turnaround

According to McGrath, because Quinlan’s graduate winter quarter begins in mid February, students had to “hit the ground running” to do well in the competition. Most teams start in January to meet the competition’s April deadline.

“The hard part was the lot of different components of the campaign,” Lakomek said. “It wasn’t just creative or a media plan—it was all encompassing. But as a team we thrived under the pressure of a looming deadline.”

Team “3 and ONE” relied on online collaboration to put together their presentation, as most team members also had full or part-time jobs on top of their normal course load.

“Imagine the four of us, from different places with different characteristics, sitting there talking to each other and throwing out different ideas,” Chen said. “But the next always improved the one before, so it got more and more effective, and creative, and we got more and more excited.”

“To run with this huge campaign and be successful, that’s a testament to the preparation we get in this program.”