BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Despite not being able to make their presentation in person, a team of Kelley School of Business students in Indiana University’s student chapter of the American Marketing Association came in third in the professional organization’s national case competition.
In February, students and their advisors — Greg Kitzmiller, I-Core case coordinator and Uline Distinguished Lecturer in Marketing and Jennifer Riley Simone, a lecturer in marketing — learned that their team was one of 11 teams in the National AMA Collegiate Case Competition.
It was the first time that the IU AMA student chapter had qualified for the national finals since being established in 2010. More than 400 AMA student chapters worldwide participate in the competition annually.
The AMA Collegiate Case Competition is a year-long event that brings together top marketing students to work on a business challenge, which this year was submitted by Cotton Inc. Each AMA chapter team developed a 40-page recommendation to combat a lack of awareness among 15- to 18-year-old Americans regarding the fiber-content of their clothing. Cotton Inc. invested $1.5 million into the winning strategy.
Two days before students were scheduled to leave for New Orleans and the AMA International Collegiate Conference in mid-March, they learned their travel plans were cancelled due to COVID-19. Students initially were heartbroken upon learning they wouldn’t be able to attend the conference.
“We knew not travelling with the virus rapidly spreading was perhaps the best decision for our health, which ultimately is the most important thing. But at the same time, we had invested so much of our time and energy into this case,” said Avni Gupta, a senior from New Delhi majoring in marketing and business analytics. “We were hoping and trying to at least get a chance to present virtually. Even though we knew we could not be as impactful as we would have been in-person, we simply wanted a chance to compete.”
“We had put in countless hours as a team to get to this point and I was so worried we were not going to have the opportunity to show off all our hard work,” added Taylor Garvey, a senior from Apple Valley, Minnesota majoring in marketing and professional sales. “Kitz (Kitzmiller) advocated on our behalf to move the case presentations online. Ultimately, AMA nationals decided to cancel the in-person presentations and replace them with video presentations. This ultimately was the best possible outcome given the circumstances, as it leveled the playing field and still allowed us to compete while remaining safe.”
Students rushed to make a video in the Brian D. Jellison Studio before they left for the corners of the globe. “We are very proud of the team’s efforts, both in preparing and presenting the case,” said Riley Simone.
Other lessons learned
In addition to the experience of competing in the competition, Maria Logue, a senior from Gurnee, Illinois majoring in marketing, said she learned and felt the impact of resilience. “My teammates and I spent our time leading up to the video thinking about how we could make it the best it could be, rather than dwelling on what it couldn’t be,” she said. “We made the absolute most of the situation and performed the best an IU chapter ever has in this case competition.”
Satvika Kalia, a senior from Gurgaon, Haryana, India majoring in economics and international law in the Liberal Arts & Management Program, joined Gupta, Garvey and Logue in presenting the case via video. Chloe Meyer served as an alternate throughout the presentation preparation.
“The biggest lesson or realization I had during this experience was the value of a strong team,” Kalia said. “This was, by far, the most positive team experience in my career as a student and as a young professional. We all brought our strengths and respected each other for their skills to produce a strong, well-articulated case.
“It was this team dynamic that allowed the transition due to COVID-19 seem like an adventure instead of a challenge,” she added. “These women motivate me, push me, inspire me, and most importantly, support me and for this I am inherently grateful.”
“Comfortably You” was the theme of the IU chapter’s campaign. It was “the intersection between feeling comfortable in your own skin and the idea that cotton is comfortable,” Logue described in the presentation. “That’s why we positioned our campaign as something that makes teenagers feel comfortable with who they are.”
The 19 other members of the IU team were Ariana Huang, Aryaman Sojitra, Bailey Foster, Drew Gatman, Emma Bloomfield, Grant Huston, Hannah Wang, Hunter Mauer, Jason Wu, Jenny Yun, Jin Chung, Josh Gerczak, Karan Jain, Mac Schneider, Maeve Randall, Michelle Gudiel, Mylinh Tieu, Preethi Kalyanakumar, Sanskar Gupta, Sara Peal, and Taylor Worthington.
The IU AMA Chapter holds programming throughout the school year, from roundtables with corporate sponsors, to skills training and community outreach. The mission behind all of IU AMA’s activities is to create better marketers.