Making a Big Marketing Splash

Nevada marketing students earned their way to the American Marketing Association International Collegiate Competition in New Orleans.

2/28/2011 - By: Claudene Wharton
AMA Team The Wolf Pack American Marketing Association chapter at the University of Nevada Reno is a top-10 finalist in the international AMA competition. Pictured front to back, left to right: Sara Klinger, Danielle Ballard, Advisor Igor Makienko, Brittany Haggerty, Geane Mara, Anita Bowers, Joelle Lipsman, Chelsea Hejny, Diana Perazzo, Tim Walenta, Bryan McNutt and Cody Haener. Not pictured: Ryan Johnson. Photo courtesy of Tyler Harding, AMA and Nevada College of Business alumnus.

The student chapter of the American Marketing Association at the University of Nevada, Reno has been named one of the top 10 finalists in the AMA International Collegiate Competition, joining the ranks of students from other institutions such as Carnegie Mellon and Penn State. The AMA team from fellow Nevada System of Higher Education institution University of Nevada, Las Vegas was also named a top-10 finalist, setting the stage for yet another great showdown between the two friendly state rivals.

The Wolf Pack AMA chapter will compete against UNLV and the other eight finalists March 24 in New Orleans, where they will present their marketing plan for Nintendo to a panel of judges chosen by Nintendo. All teams had to target the non-gaming population of the United States, which Wolf Pack team leader Diana Perazzo said wasn't much of a stretch for her and her teammates.

"Not a single member of our team was an avid game player," she said, with a grin in her elegant Russian accent. "So, we were part of our own target market."

The senior marketing major in Nevada's College of Business is representative of the over-achieving, hardworking personalities of the 12-member team, according to chapter advisor Igor Makienko, assistant professor of marketing.

"They don't have time to play games—they're all too busy," he chuckled.

The team spent a lot of their time conducting research—primary, secondary and focus groups.

"You cannot do anything without research," Perazzo said. "The more we got to know Nintendo, the more we loved it. It's a really good company with strong research and marketing. They support good causes and are very profitable."

"They integrated research throughout their whole plan, not just the research section," Makienko explained. "They backed up everything they said with research, giving a clear rationale for everything in their plan."

Perazzo said that the team learned a lot from competing last year, when they finished in the competition's top 20. Because they didn't finish in the top 10, they didn't get to present at the finals, but Perazzo said, "We watched, took notes and learned a lot. I think that's one reason why we are so strong this year."

According to Judy Strauss, associate professor of marketing, "I have never seen such high scores from industry professionals in a student competition. It is evidence of the high-quality instruction and real-world applications that our students are learning in our College of Business. We are very proud of them."

The team scored 95 to 99 points out of 100 from five of the six judges. The sixth judge gave them a score of 87, to which Perazzo reacted with the true spirit of a competitor, "That's okay. We don't mind at all. That's what makes you better and how you learn."

Perazzo said that with both the Wolf Pack team and the team from UNLV being named top-10 finalists, she feels great pride, commenting, "We all must be getting a very good education here."

But, she also admits that the friendly intrastate rivalry between the two institutions adds a little additional incentive.

"Seeing UNLV on that list does get my competitive nature going even more. We are Wolf Pack, so now it's personal and we want to beat them," she said.

The Wolf Pack team began working on the project the second week of September, meeting twice a week at first, then several days a week, and then every day in December, when the preliminary plan was due.

"Now we get to improve upon our plan, just continue to fine-tune it until the final competition," Perazzo said, carefully guarding any more specific details of their plan until the actual final competition, as a true competitor would.


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