August 4, 2020
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How often can you say that your homework changed a company’s mind?

Students in the Strategic Advertising and Marketing program, a joint master’s degree offered by Temple University’s Fox School of Business and Klein College of Media and Communication, proved that hard work pays off. 

Five graduate students took on a final project in their Marketing Management class by choosing a brand and modifying their marketing strategy. The group decided on Kraft Heinz—and soon enough, their research and ideas landed on the desk of Kraft Heinz’s brand manager herself.

Jordan Ezell, Gary Kiebach, Michelle Killmer, Alyssa Laufer and Amanda Miller conducted both qualitative and quantitative research about Kraft Heinz, collecting roughly 700 completed surveys and 25 in-depth interviews for their project. 

“Our group chose Kraft Heinz, and ultimately their Smart Ones product, based on recent reports of brand markdowns and stock price concerns,” explained Kiebach. “Our project consisted of a three-stage rebranding campaign. We suggested a redesign of the Smart Ones product lines, so they align accurately to a health-focused concept. Our team produced physical coupons, boxes and in-store collateral to accompany the launch.”

According to Laufer and Kiebach, each group member offered a unique contribution to the project based on their professional experiences. While one focused on surveying, another designed models and prototypes for the new brand. The group’s mixed talents encouraged their professor, Dennis Paris, to take the project’s insights beyond the classroom.

Paris, assistant professor of practice for the Fox Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, worked to get in touch with Kraft Heinz so the students could present their well-researched strategies. 

“I received an email from our head of communications with Professor Paris’s note regarding the work that his students did, and I thought, ‘This is pretty good work. Let’s see what else they have to say,’” explains Audrey Burger, brand manager at Kraft Heinz

Via a Zoom call organized by Paris, the group presented their suggestions to Burger and her manager, the head of the frozen department at Kraft Heinz. The students even showed their homemade yet highly professional collateral and newly designed packaging as examples during the presentation.  

By the end of the presentation, the in-depth research sparked new ideas for branding at Kraft Heinz. “Sometimes fresh eyes can help you see a brand differently or spark an insight,” says Burger. “As they were talking, I was taking a bunch of notes—because some of the things [they suggested] were directionally what we had thought in the past but with a different twist.” 

“I was impressed by the presentation. [They] really thought about the consumer first,” Burger continues. “The tactical executions, especially the way that they approached phasing, I think will apply in some way to a future brand.”

Paris is excited that this partnership with Kraft Heinz will continue in the fall 2020 semester. “We’re finalizing our new live collaborative project for the program’s capstone. Three student teams will be working with Agency-M, a Philadelphia-based ad agency, who agreed to collaborate with them on research, and fresh strategic advertising and marketing recommendations for a line of Kraft Heinz food toppings and sauces,” says Paris. “Kraft Heinz has agreed to collaborate by offering the capstone students a corporate perspective on this new project after their experience with the quality of work done by this team.” 

The Strategic Advertising and Marketing program incorporates both qualitative advertising methods from the Klein College as well as quantitative marketing and business strategies from the Fox School. The skills taught by the dual degree program were on display during the students’ presentation to Kraft Heinz.

“They clearly had a very good depth of knowledge on the project,” explains Burger. “It wasn’t just their opinion. They had data to back it up. And I always value someone that comes with the data first as an answer.”

“The joint coursework is helpful in understanding the dual nature of the marketing ecosystem. In my Klein coursework, we focus heavily on creative strategy. The Fox coursework emphasizes metrics and consumer research strategies. I think both pieces are necessary for developing a well-rounded marketing repertoire,” adds Keibach.

Paris infuses his industry experience into the classroom to guide students to the practical applications of their studies. 

“Coming out of industry, I coach the teams through the process. I tie their learning objectives and their brand recommendations together by reminding them about how their research outcomes and strategic outcomes are driving their work,” explains Paris. “I try to simulate a corporate environment as much as possible.” 

His students value this approach, and the Strategic Advertising and Marketing program as a whole, as they prepare for an always-changing media environment. 

“I really like the experiential curriculum. It definitely helps you to grasp the content and the concepts better in a more memorable way like I’m always going to remember that I did this project and the things that I did for it,” adds Laufer. “When it comes to experiential learning because you’re actually immersing yourself into the concept, it definitely is absorbed better.”

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Dennis ParisKlein College of Media and CommunicationKraftKraft HeinzMarketing and Supply Chain ManagementSmart OnesSTAMStrategic Advertising and Marketing