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Conceiving a Cool Concept for Hot Wheels

Marketing professor Diane Badame, front, worked with students on “Fast Feels Good,” a campaign to help position Subaru vehicles.

The problem: A major international automaker has a line of hot cars and the need to find creative ways to reach out to Generation Y in the United States.

The assignment: Working with a team of 35 specialists, in a matter of weeks one must create a marketing initiative that achieves results for Subaru.

This spring, as part of a marketing project, undergraduates in the USC Marshall School of Business created “Fast Feels Good,” a comprehensive campaign to help position Subaru vehicles. The initiative culminated with a promotional event April 10 on the University Park Campus that featured a rock-climbing wall, a race car driver from the Grand Prix circuit and a bank of virtual reality video driving games.

Students said the project taught them how to make the connection between concepts in class and the real needs of a major international corporation. It also taught them about working in teams and with a client.

“Everyone has to pull their weight. We had to learn to delegate tasks and manage,” said Malia Bowman, a senior business marketing major who managed the publicity for the event. Her team colleague, senior Brittany Gotschall, who was focused on the ultimate prize, said, “Our goal is to raise brand awareness of Subaru.”

The class project was part of a national competition involving marketing students at 12 universities across the country, including Arizona State University, Emory, Miami, Temple and George Washington.

Diane Badame, associate professor of marketing in the USC Marshall School, led the class. She said the students were given an initial budget of $2,500, but the USC Marshall School marketing majors added another $37,000 to the total through corporate sponsorships.

Badame said the students had to create a project that marketed the Subaru line to Generation Y, which responds well to an alternative marketing approach, including online and sales promotion events. For the project, her class members even created special air-fresheners and ping-pong balls as promotional devices.

Badame said event marketing works well with automobiles.

“It gets people to touch and feel and get involved. If you can touch and feel it, you’re more likely to purchase,” she said. Badame pointed out that this kind of practical marketing experience is a great way to help students take what they learn beyond the classroom.

“This is just like being in a real agency,” she said.

The national finalists for the marketing competition will be announced later this spring. For more information, visit the students’ Web site at http://www.fastfeelsgood.com.

Conceiving a Cool Concept for Hot Wheels

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