By Kara Sherrer
Over fall break, Master of Marketing students and MBA candidates with an interest in marketing and/or brand management participate in BrandWeek, a three-day series of marketing challenges issued by clients. Teams are given a challenge and have anywhere between a few hours or days to come up with a plan and presentation for their client. A recap of Monday’s challenge follows.
The Client: Authentically American, LLC, is an apparel company founded by CEO Dean Wegner in 2017. As the name suggests, Authentically American offers apparel and merchandise that is exclusively made in the U.S., mostly selling branded apparel to B2B customers. The company also gives back 10% of each sale to veteran-focused charities that support military personnel, first responders, and their families; Wegner himself is an Army veteran and passionately supports giving back to the community.
The Project: Authentically American is looking to establish its brand and expand its customer base. In particular, teams were tasked with figuring out if the company should shift its positioning at all in the wake of the recent Colin Kaepernick advertising campaign released by Nike in honor of its 30th anniversary. Teams were also asked to determine the best way to reach the B2B market and offer recommendations for expanding into the direct-to-consumer market.
The Presentations: Teams advised against taking a specific political stance on the Nike advertising campaign. Instead, they recommended that Authentically American continue promoting its high-quality products and charitable donations, keeping the focus on their own company.
Several teams also recommended highlighting the company’s non-profit partnerships and American workforce through testimonials. This approach would allow Authentically American to demonstrate the good work it’s doing in the community while showcasing its made-in-America apparel.
Teams also suggested an expansion of social media efforts to increase awareness among individual and business consumers, with standardized branding and materials across social media accounts and the company’s website. To reach individual consumers, they also recommended exploring partnerships with selling platforms like Amazon and Etsy. (Authentically American only sells directly to consumers through its own website right now.)
The Winner: Wegner and his colleagues declared Team #2 the winner based on its recommendations regarding branding and staffing. “We loved it, especially the message around patriotism and reinforcing the quality (of the products). I think that’s a real gap for us and we can do a better job,” he said.
The team also suggested that Authentically American add a couple part-time staff members or interns who could help promote the product through social media and other channels. “We also loved the specific staffing recommendations around inside sales and marketing,” Wegner added.