Fairfield University's Dolan School of Business students place third in national competition to market Chevy's fuel-efficient cars to Generation Y


A team of students of Fairfield University's Charles F. Dolan School of Business placed third in the national finals of the 2007 Chevrolet College Marketing Challenge. Student teams from 65 universities and colleges competed to create a new advertising campaign for Chevrolet's fuel-efficient cars.

The Dolan School team members, who are M.B.A. candidates, traveled to Detroit last week to pitch their campaign to judges from Chevrolet and its advertising agency and corporate communications firm, Campbell-Ewald, and McGinn MS&L. They won scholarship money for making it into the final round of five competitors. They took part in the Chevy challenge as part of course work in a marketing class taught by Assistant Professor Christy Ashley, Ph.D.

Students on the Dolan School team were Michael Mondin, of Milford; Megan Mones, of Trumbull; Andrew Raffellini, of Fairfield; Robert Reh, of Westport; and Kimberly Thalmann, of Hoboken, New Jersey.

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro team won the contest and its creative material will become part of an integrated marketing communications plan for the car company. Last year, a somewhat similar contest run by Chevrolet resulted in the winning college students' entry appearing as a TV commercial during the Super Bowl.

The challenge involved business students competing to create a new Chevrolet marketing campaign directed at the youth market, adults ages 18 to 30, centering around the car company's fuel-efficient vehicles and future eco-conscious technologies.

Dr. Ashley said, "The judges were impressed, both by our students' strategy and by their ability to work so well as a team. One of them suggested the students go into business together."

The Fairfield marketing campaign proposed an online contest to engage the public, and suggested Chevrolet dealerships help educate the public about fuel-saving technologies and fuel-efficient vehicles.

Dolan faculty members are always looking for ways to introduce top business executives and real life corporate decision-making challenges into M.B.A. classrooms. The Chevrolet contest proved ideal for meeting those goals. The Dolan students had the opportunity to hear directly from Molly Peck, a Chevrolet advertising manager, and Rebecca Fannin, a senior account director at McGinn MS&L, about strategies that are being implemented to create awareness of Chevy cars with fuel solutions. Dr. Ashley said that she was especially proud of her students making it to the final round, because they had to juggle the Chevrolet project with graduate courses and full-time jobs. "The fact that they were the only M.B.A. team to advance to the finals was a testament to their efforts. It reinforced my confidence that the students coming out of the Fairfield M.B.A. program can compete with students from top M.B.A. programs across the country."

Norm Solomon, Ph.D., dean of the Dolan School, said, "Our team making it into the finals of this national competition underscores the high caliber of students that we continue to attract as we enter into our 30th anniversary year."

The submissions were evaluated based on analysis of market research, marketing strategy, promotional tactics, media plan, and creative development of ideas.

Kim Kosak, Chevrolet general director of advertising and sales promotion, said, "It was so exciting to watch the students bring their ideas to life on Thursday. All of the teams shared great insights about 18 to 30 year-old buyers and excellent ideas about how to reach that market."

Those competing included individual undergraduate and graduate students as well as student teams. A marketing plan submitted by undergraduate Catherine Forsa '09, an English major/Marketing minor at Fairfield, made it into the top 10 of finalists.

For more details on the graduate programs of the Dolan School of Business, call the Graduate Admission office at (203) 254-4184 or Undergraduate Admission office at (203) 254-4100, or visit www.fairfield.edu.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on December 19, 2007

Vol. 40, No. 139