Hands-on learning is encouraged – and in some cases required – in the College of Business at Clemson University. And the Department of Marketing is one of the college’s disciplines that puts a high value on real-world experience to prepare students for careers in marketing, sales and advertising.

Creative Inquiry, Marketing, Tai Pei

Clemson marketing students developed a marketing plan for Tai Pei, an Asian cuisine company.

The vehicle James Gaubert’s class tapped for its experiential learning was a two-semester Creative Inquiry in Marketing class that addresses real-world marketing issues. For the last seven years, MKT-3980 has participated in the National Student Advertising Competition that tests students’ marketing and advertising acumen.

“This year, Tai Pei, an Asian-style cuisine company posed a case study that required a strategic plan and campaign proposal for marketing their product to millennials,” said Gaubert, a senior lecturer in marketing and advisor to the 20-member team.

Tai Pei sought proposals on how to market their new, “cleaner” recipe formulation and more convenient packaging redesign to younger millennial consumers – college-age through their mid-20s.

“The exercise challenges students on many of marketing’s disciplines and exposes them to team-building, time management and communication, many of the day-to-day challenges advertising professionals deal with,” Gaubert said.

Clemson students developed a 27-page marketing campaign to address Tai Pei’s needs. They made a 20-minute presentation of their plan to a panel of judges, followed by a question and answer session.

Following their research to determine a strategic direction, Gaubert said the team identified benefits to the target market. “From there, they addressed creative execution and the tactics to support their proposal through an integrated media campaign that utilized innovative digital tactics to broaden Tai Pei’s market share and increase sales.”

Kayla Grady, senior marketing major, said the competition tested her on many levels and replicated ad agency experience.

“The ability to take a single idea and transform it into an entire campaign reveals a lot about your creative perseverance and your drive to succeed. The experience was invaluable and allowed me to put what I learned in the classroom to a real-world test.”

Though the team didn’t advance to the next level of competition, Gaubert said year in and out the National Student Advertising Competition provides students an experience that is difficult to replicate in a classroom setting.

“The competition is a true test in marketing strategy, graphic communications, design, accounting and media studies – all disciplines a marketing professional must master,” Gaubert added. “Experiences like this build confidence and can help a student determine if advertising and marketing is a career track they want to pursue.”

Graduating senior Logan Lyles said the Creative Inquiry class helped make up her mind on a career direction.

“This was my second year competing and I can truly say the experience of working as a team to create a campaign for a real-world brand has changed my life,” Logan said. “Through the competition, I found a passion for advertising and as a result plan to pursue a career in this dynamic field. It was one of the most valuable experiences at Clemson.”

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