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Serving on a Shark Tank Panel

My friend Melissa Griffie is an adjunct professor at Drew University and this semester taught a Marketing fundamentals class to undergrads. I was part of a “Shark Tank” style panel that evaluated final presentations.

Here’s how it worked:

Students were asked to analyze a Harvard Business case study, then apply marketing principles to their recommendations. This year’s challenges were as diverse as how to increase ticket sales to Barcelona’s soccer stadium, refresh the Burberry label, attract millennials to Harley motorcycles, etc.

Each group prepared a PowerPoint and had 10 minutes to present their case to our 6-person panel. Many panelists came out of MarCom roles at local CPG companies or provided research and marketing consulting services.

The students did a wonderful job! Of course, there were presentation jitters and PowerPoints that could’ve been more streamlined… but the groups certainly delivered some controversial and creative POVs. For example, Starbucks should not invest $40MM in training, Taco Bell shouldn’t seek to expand in breakfast category. I can attest that I wasn’t writing and presenting business case analyses when I was a college sophomore!

What was eye-opening is that social media was proposed in all solutions, and sometimes it was the only thing proposed. To exclusion of event marketing, point-of-sale, sponsorships and co-promotes, etc. Whether it made sense for target or not. Granted, the assignment wasn’t to come up with a comprehensive marketing plan but it was interesting to see the younger generation’s preference for channels like Instagram, Vine and Snapchat.

Truly a great evening and valuable experience for students to debate their ideas with business leaders. I found myself missing academia and the opportunity to think deeply about marketing challenges.

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