By Kara Sherrer
This week is fall break at Owen, so rather than sitting in class, students are engaged in a variety of hands-on programs designed to immerse them in the industry of their choice. Master of Marketing students and MBA candidates in the marketing/branding concentration are participating in BrandWeek, a three-day series of marketing challenges issued by real brands. Teams are given a challenge and have anywhere between a few hours or days to come up with a plan, create their presentations, and present to the client. A recap of Monday’s challenge follows below.
The Client: AJS Inc. started in 1977 with a single KFC franchise location; decades later, the franchise company now operates more than 25 locations across Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. For 40 years, the company has served fried chicken to consumers all over the Southeast and Midwest.
The Project: Director of Operations John Revis, who has worked at for 27 years, challenged Brand Week participants to come up with social media outreach concepts to attract millennials to apply to work at his franchises. AJS’ restaurants are actively seeking to bring in new visitors, specifically younger consumers and employees. In particular, AJS Inc. is opening a new location in the near future they will need to staff with new employees. The franchises need to communicate that KFC is an appealing place to work while staying within the KFC corporate brand guidelines. Teams had 1.5 hours to come up with ideas and ready their presentations.
The Presentations: Teams proposed a variety of promotional ideas based on personal and professional experiences. Many suggested highlighting current millennial employees and their stories, while touting relevant benefits (such as a tuition subsidy) more prominently on posts and the company’s job site. Teams also recommended updating the job application landing page, using new photos featuring younger employees in action, and suggested geo-targeting and SEO to ensure that ads are reaching the proper audiences.
The Winner: Team #4 won with their idea to create content around millennial employees and leverage existing social content posted by current employees. Team members pointed out that millennials love when brands share and retweet their posts, which in turn encourages them to re-engage with the brand. This also increases the likelihood that someone will see the brand posts on social media and recommend millennials apply for a job there. Referrals are a major source of job applications, so creating a strong brand impression to generate those referrals is key to success.
The Student Feedback: MBA and Master of Marketing students were excited to kickoff the week and get their hands on real world projects. “We participated to further expand our marketing tool belt…we’re looking to build that resume and get that hands-on experience that we don’t have since we haven’t been in the corporate world for very long,” said McKayla Denning (MMark’18).
Students enjoyed getting to explore employer branding, a specific aspect of marketing that isn’t always covered in general assignments. “It’s very easy to remember marketing from what you see on TV or what you’re exposed to as a consumer, but there are a lot of different facets to it. In this project in particular, we got to see how employers use (marketing) to retain and attract top talent, and how important that image is in addition to what you’re showing to your end consumer,” said Becky Shaver (MBA’19).