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2021 BrandWeek Engages Students With Real-World Marketing Experience in a Fast-Paced Environment

Oct 18, 2021
Student teams solve marketing challenges for Hattie B’s, the Graduate Hotel, and O.H. Ingram River Aged Whiskey

By Lacie Blankenship

Professor Steve Hoeffler at brandweek

Professor Steve Hoeffler

BrandWeek, one of many immersion programs at Vanderbilt’s Owen School of Business, is an annual program dedicated to giving students experience solving real-world marketing problems with an element of competition.

Organized by Professor Steve Hoeffler, BrandWeek takes place during Immersion Week. “It’s a fun program where we bring students in and have them work on companies’ challenges,” says Hoeffler.

This year’s BrandWeek involved 60 participating Master of Marketing students. 

Students split into teams of 10 to problem-solve for three different companies. They competed in half-day challenges for Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, O.H. Ingram River Aged Whiskey, and a concurrent 3-day challenge for the Graduate Hotel.

“We have a bunch of smart students banging their heads together, trying to solve problems for companies, and that’s where the magic happens,” says Hoeffler.   

Students helped Hattie B’s find ways to improve the “utilization and uptake of their app.” They also brainstormed ideas for events and brand enhancements for O.H. Ingram River Aged Whiskey, a company led by Hank Ingram (MBA’16). 

The largest challenge during 2021 BrandWeek was the partnership with the Graduate Hotel, where students developed marketing strategies to attract potential college students participating in campus visits across the chain’s 32 markets.

Participants walked away from the program with hands-on experience developing marketing solutions, working in teams, and collaborating with real-world brands.   

“The companies love it, and the students are super engaged and always have a ball; it’s a great learning experience, especially the notion of immersion with getting a problem and actually working to solve that problem,” says Hoeffler. 

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