18 May Xavier Marketing Students Experiential Learn with Post-it®
A conventional brand like Post-it® is well aware that in this digital era, many consumers would rather “post it” online than on a sticky note. Xavier University adjunct marketing professor, Michael Kuremsky, saw this as an experiential learning opportunity for his students to stretch their strategic muscles through a branding project with potential to actually make an impact.
Coming to Xavier from a 23-year career in brand strategy with Proctor and Gamble (P&G), Kuremsky, or Professor K., as his students call him, developed quite a network in the marketing industry. His contacts even reach all the way to Remi Kent, the Global Chief Marketing Officer of 3M Consumer Brands. Kent worked under Kuremsky for 10 years at P&G after he hired her on to his brand strategy team and she’s since become his respected colleague and good friend. As a result, it was no trouble to reach out to the CMO of consumer brands to ask a small favor.
“Remi is, in my mind, one of the best brand builders that I’ve worked with in my career,” Kuremsky said. “Over the years, I’ve been wanting her to come speak to my class and it finally worked out, in part due to quarantine making her busy schedule more flexible and given the fact it was done via Zoom.”
Kent brought to the class years of expertise along with her “consumer centric mind,” as Kuremsky put it. Before she became CMO of consumer brands under 3M, she was brand leader for Post-it®. She decided to share the Post-it® case study with the class as well as issues the brand has been facing in the age of social media and continued technological advancements. As a more traditional brand, Post-it® has had to fight to maintain relevancy. Kent requested that the students pitch ideas on how to close the gap between the initial purpose of Post-it® and the digital direction in which the market is going.
Kuremsky’s class fully embraced the project and went above and beyond expectations. One pair of students even produced a brand promotional video to illustrate their method of executing growth for the brand.
“We had about a week to develop a marketing idea for 3M on how to bridge the gap between their digital Post-it® app and the physical sticky note,” marketing junior, Emma Mrotek, said. “My partner, Manasa, and I decided to create a video that exemplified how 3M and Post-it® can help families stay in touch during quarantine. Although our video’s production quality was rough, it showed the emotion behind the campaign, which we were really proud of.”
The pitches from the class were overall profound and insightful, but most of all, versatile. Ideas ranged from a stained-glass sticky note concept, in which Post-it® would utilize sticky notes as window art targeting the arts and crafts market, all the way to an idea of applying fill-in-the-blanks on physical Post-it® notes for speedy sorting once converted digitally.
As a CMO, Kent approached the class as if it were her actual brand strategy team and they responded by presenting applicable, marketable ideas. Kent was especially impressed that some ideas the students pitched had already been considered before at her company. Meaning, they weren’t just doing a project for points, they were presenting ideas with real-world potential.
“I was so delighted by the students at Xavier University,” Kent said. “Their ideas were fresh, strategic and actionable and the energy for the Post-it® Brand was uplifting.”
Connecting Kent with his class is just one example of how Kuremsky is a major advocate for utilizing speakers to bring his students real-world perspectives. However, regardless of who he brings in, he’s adamant about incorporating applicable work into every presentation instead of simply having his guests give a one-and-done speech. Just earlier this year, Kuremsky used his connections at P&G to have the Old Spice brand team speak to his class. As a result, students got to pitch ideas on how the brand could better reach teen boys, a target audience that Old Spice has struggled to connect with.
It’s safe to say that experiential learning is a definite pillar in Kuremsky’s marketing class and his students are reaping the benefits of it. The 3M project alone gave them a vivid glimpse of what their own careers could look like and taught them what it takes to not only maintain in the marketing industry, but to thrive.
“I learned that the marketing environment is always changing,” Mrotek said. “Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, marketing campaigns needed to be developed quickly to stay relevant to the consumer. Now, companies have to work even harder to position themselves so they are in consumers’ minds. Working with 3M and Post-it® was a great way to experience how competitive the marketplace is.”