Four marketing students reach Taziki’s Marketing Challenge finals

One of the College of Business’s distinctive experiences is applied education. Its location in the capital city of Arkansas garners applied educational advantages unreachable in smaller cities and communities across the state. What better way to take advantage of the resources than entering students into local and regional competitions?

UALR is quickly becoming known for its ability to succeed in business competitions. Having won first place in the state during the 2012-13 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup and reaching the world semi-finals in the Microsoft Imagine Cup, the College of Business is doing something right. The formula appears to be the right students with the right faculty; and we’ve done it again —  beating the odds by roughly seven to one.

This semester four students under the direction of Dr. Gary Geissler combined their skill and passion to take on a marketing challenge presented by Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe. Trey Woodruff, Danielle Hendrix, Tori Cecil and Diamond Lewis had to create a custom 30-second television commercial, a 30-second radio spot and a print advertisement. In addition to the ads, the students had to develop a media plan based on a budget provided by Taziki’s management. The winning idea will be used to launch a campaign across all markets.

“They all have a great attitude and really want to win it all,” said Dr. Geissler, who initiated the project and has coached the students since August. “I’m very proud of the team, and we’re all looking forward to their presentation. I think they have the right stuff to take the Grand Prize. I’ve informed them that they will be attending Dr. G’s presentation “boot camp” during the next couple of weeks, and they are more than willing.”

More than just willing, the students are prepared to do everything it takes to win. “It’s the first applied ed experience that’s meant something. We were given the tools we needed to create something. He [Dr. Geissler] was always helping us and guiding us,” said Marketing major Trey Woodruff, who served as creative lead and editor. “Why so serious?” you may ask. There is a $5,000 grand prize on the line. Whether motivated by money or by the experience, as Public Relations major Diamond Lewis noted, these students see the opportunity ahead as one for which reaching further is worth it.

Working in groups is something every college student will encounter. More assuredly than any college student, a business student will see it every step of the way. Working in a group setting is vital to understanding the dynamics of real-world business settings, and is indispensable to the educational experience. That said, there has been a clear difference between projects like these and ones conducted on short term bases.

“There was serious synergy,” Lewis noted. “When you’re passionate about the project — and the group is— it goes much better.” When asked why group members performed better than usual, Woodruff remarked, “The idea that this could really be something that is broadcast in their markets makes it different.”

Bottom line: onlookers can see that real opportunities and real hard work can produce results. Other schools that reached the finals include one team from Clemson, two from Samford, and one from West Virginia. The team and Dr. Geissler take their plan to the Taziki’s corporate headquarters in Birmingham, AL on November 15th.

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