Goodbye Bus, Hello Bloomington!

As we approach B-town for the end of this trip, it is hard to comprehend how fast this week went. It feels like only yesterday we were riding the Wienermobile and were worrying about all the bus time.

It is equally hard to imagine that was only 5 days ago and since Oscar Mayer came to campus, we’ve visited 5 companies playing in 5 industries headquartered in 4 states.

I think the best way to summarize this trip is by the question that was asked as we left P&G.

They asked us if during this week we had become interested in a company that we previously hadn’t been interested in.

Everybody raised their hands.

Ok, it’s Friday night in Bloomington. Time to have a different kind of fun…….

Mike Hardman

P&G: The Main Course

If there’s one thing I picked up from my full day at P&G it’s that from minute one of your tenure with them, you can make a huge impact on the company.

We met one Assistant Brand Manager who took $300,000, rolled out an extension of Febreze called “Febreze Sport” and generated over $7 million in revenue. And yeah, this was his first year.

In the process of creating ads for the product, he also got to meet Cincinnati Bengals stars Dhani Jones and Chad Ochocinco. Apparently, Mr. Ochocinco is much more down to earth than he lets on!

All in all we met at least 7 Kelley grads during our day here. P&G taught us boatloads about how to reach out to the consumer and understand him/her better.

How do you connect on a more personal level with a consumer when you are conducting research on seemingly “mundane” product like facial tissue?

How difficult is it to create an advertisement that not only is funny and engaging, but is effective in conveying the key message or product attribute that you want consumers to recognize?

So, how can an advertising campaign for Gain laundry detergent effectively promote its broader array of detergent scents? Apple Mango Tango anyone?

While the company has performance metric after performance metric that a product must excel in during testing, it is the brand managers and the consumer insight specialists that drive the growth of a product.

During our lunch break, we kind of had an extension of last night’s happy hour. 7 or 8 of us were paired with a P&G Kelley alum – who gave us more insight to the company and walked us around the office complex.

And the paper towels they use in the bathrooms are the most comfortable I’ve ever felt on my hand. First thing I’m doing when I have an income again – is ditching the generic paper towels I have at my apartment.

All of us walked away from our day at P&G with some understanding as to how it works to meet the goal of knowing its customers.

Mike Hardman

Happy Hour, P&G Style

Short bus ride to Cincinnati. Cincinnati is practically a suburb of Indianapolis! We’re actually staying at a Marriot just over the river in Kentucky. Very comfortable room for the night.

Procter & Gamble hosted a happy hour for us at Bar Louie. We got some good appetizers and drinks. Something about quesadillas always gets me into the mood to network!

Got to meet some of the brand managers and consumer insight specialists at P&G. All very nice and very personable. All work on brands worth millions and billions of dollars. P&G has lots of those…..

But, again, the key was that they were very open and friendly. They were both willing to talk about their roles at P&G and about the quality of life in Cincinnati. Not to mention, very interested in us.

This event was literally the appetizer for a very full plate of events that we have tomorrow.

Mike Hardman

Ask Your Doctor About Eli Lilly

Early wakeup call today as we had to be at Kelley for a 7 a.m. departure. A lot of us definitely used the hour-long bus ride up to Indy to catch a few more Z’s.

Eli Lilly didn’t make us sign a confidentiality agreement, but they did have us pass through a metal detector. That must be interesting for the doctors that come on-site with all of their equipment.

We had three great presentations from very senior marketers at Lilly. They talked about the changes in the pharma industry once direct-to-consumer ads were approved by the government circa 1998.

Kelley grad Michelle DeRidder (2008) hosted us – and talked about why she chose Lilly over a CPG. Namely, the ability to have a hand in the development and marketing of life-saving medicine.

It gets very interesting in the pharma world, because you can’t just market to the consumer. You have to get the doctor involved. And, there’s also the payer to consider (e.g., insurance company) as well as keeping the FDA happy.

So, there are many heads to a marketing campaign at Eli Lilly.

To tie it all together, we talked about the Cialis launch almost 10 years ago. Cialis is the erectile dysfunction drug that Lilly hoped would, and successfully did, overtake Viagra.

This is a family blog, so I’ll leave it to you to make up your own jokes. Ok, just one or two…….

Through the “4-hour erection” jokes and questions about the tubs they use in their commercials, we learned how carefully they segmented their potential customers and which benefits they leveraged when going after Viagra’s market share.

The folks at Lilly were really sincere and demonstrated their desire to improve the quality of peoples’ lives. The senior marketers I mentioned even sat down with us during our lunch and got to know us.

All in all, a great time.

Mike Hardman

Siesta in Bloomington

Nice to be sleeping in my own bed for a night. We are officially halfway done with this Academy Week – and the heavy traveling is behind us.

I’m writing a few thank you notes to Oscar Mayer, MillerCoors, Jewel-Osco, and Whirlpool and then relaxing for a bit.

Perhaps I’ll refresh by finding out whether the Phillies close out the Dodgers. I’ll leave it to you to determine whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Some people with more energy than I can handle going to Nick’s for a game of Sink the Biz, but we still have 2 more days on the road – so I think that can wait ‘til the weekend.

Big case discussion tomorrow at Eli Lilly up in Indy and then it’s off to Cincinnati to visit the mother of all CPG’s: Procter & Gamble.

Mike Hardman

Whirlpool: I could tell you, but…..

I can honestly say that visiting Whirlpool was just as fun as talking beer and sports. The people at the company were extremely friendly – and the company is clearly in the midst of exciting times.

As it happens, the times are so exciting at Whirlpool that they made us all sign confidentiality agreements. So, there is only so much that I can talk about without having to go James Bond on you……

Or, if Fight Club is more your thing, “The first rule about the Whirlpool visit is…….”

Let’s just say that it is crystal clear that the company knows its customers, knows its strengths, and has a strong vision of where it wants to go over the next few years.

Whirlpool is yet another example of a company that I did not originally have on my “list”, but one where I would be perfectly happy interning for next summer, or working for post-MBA.

And, I can say, we got to walk around a showroom of sorts and play with all of Whirlpool’s cutting edge products. Even cool for a guy like me who has never been confused with Bobby Flay.

Also, Whirlpool was nice enough to hook us all up with cool kitchen utensils. They gave us deluxe bottle openers and ice cream scoopers. I walked away with a pizza slicer. It’s the little things in life…..

Hopefully, the prospective MBA students are able to glean something from this blog post, while Whirlpool’s competitors are not!

Mike Hardman

Look, Mom: I’m in Michigan!

Quick, painless bus ride to Michigan. This is actually my first time in the state – so I am one closer to hitting up all 50. Since I’m a dork, I counted and know that I’m at 31 states now.

The Benton Harbor/St. Joseph area is obviously quite different from downtown Chicago. It’s seemingly more of a beach/vacation town. Very quiet. But, it’s nice here and we’re right on Lake Michigan.

Lots of restaurant choices nearby – all seemingly more affordable than Morton’s.

We’re staying at a place called the Boulevard Inn. Again, the CMA knows how to pick its hotels.

Very spacious.

If I had to pick a hotel to stay in after being on a bus for a few hours, this certainly would make the cut.

Ok, off to my first dinner in Michigan……how’s the Chinese here?

Mike Hardman

Supermarket Sweep with Jewel-Osco

Ate lunch on the bus as we left downtown Chicago and headed toward the suburb of Itasca. That’s where Jewel-Osco’s (leading Chicago supermarket) headquarters are located.

Willis Tower was not across the street and there was no in-office pub. But, we definitely learned just as much (and there is A LOT less traffic in Itasca).

Damon Grimes (’03) and Bonny Smith (’09) gave us the scoop on a career called “category management”. Many of us aspire to be brand managers, which involves managing the performance and strategy for a specific product or brand.

With category management at Jewel-Osco, you are in charge of an entire section of their supermarket. For instance, Damon is the category manager of Frozen Foods at Jewel-Osco.

He is in charge of that section for all 183 of Jewel-Osco’s Chicagoland stores. Frozen Foods amount to roughly $400 million per year in revenue for the company.

And the buck stops with Damon.

He says which frozen foods Jewel-Osco stocks and which ones they don’t.

How do you tell a CPG that just spent a year developing and testing a new frozen food that you can’t stock their product because you don’t think it will sell?

There is also growth in the “private label” section of frozen foods; Jewel-Osco sells its own frozen pizza.

What would happen if Damon didn’t think Jewel-Osco’s frozen pizza didn’t warrant shelf space? Imagine that conversation with your boss!

And, since the Jewel-Osco pizza does sell, how do you tell the big, name brand frozen pizza players that they potentially could lose shelf space even though they are selling?

We got more great insight into the challenges that await us at our internships and jobs. We enjoyed our time in Illinois immensely. Next stop: Whirlpool in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

Mike Hardman

Happy Hour, MillerCoors Style

We had the unenviable task of learning about two very boring subjects: 1) beer and 2) sports. Not sure how the people at MillerCoors are able to motivate themselves!

Ok, enough with the sarcasm!

Kevin Reilly (’06) and about 6 other speakers put on an extremely comprehensive presentation. The meeting was held at MillerCoors’ new downtown Chicago office, right across the street from Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower).

Not a bad place to wind up.

They have their own in-office pub that employees can use from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. every day.

Something tells me daily productivity dips sometime shortly after 3:59 p.m.

As you can imagine, the NFL and NASCAR are huge promotion avenues for MillerCoors. But, so is the Rock n’ Roll Marathon (for a brand like MGD 64). And, so are spots with ESPN’s Mike and Mike.

But, keep in mind that beer is not sold directly from MillerCoors to consumers. It must go through a distributor and then a retailer (for example, a store or restaurant/bar).

So everybody has to be happy along the way. Not just the beer drinker.

And different states have different laws about how beer can be sold. MillerCoors also has to know how to market to a restaurant chain such as Applebees’ vs. Joe’s Local Pub vs. a grocery store.

Not to mention, the nuances between the Miller Lite drinker and the Blue Moon drinker (a MillerCoors brand now if you didn’t know).

Get the idea? Maybe there’s enough work to be done that there isn’t always time for the in-office pub.

Mike Hardman

Hotel 71 > Motel 6

Wow! We aren’t messing around here in Chicago! After 4 hours on a bus from Bloomington (primarily spent napping and watching Ocean’s Eleven) we are in Hotel 71.

And this hotel is both nice and situated right in the middle of downtown Chicago.

To give you a hint: the closest restaurant to the hotel is Morton’s Steakhouse.

Tonight is an off night. So, after a little prep for tomorrow (we visit MillerCoors and Jewel-Osco) it is off to dinner and time to explore the city a bit.

We can’t get too crazy. Our bus leaves 7:45 a.m. tomorrow morning. But, there will certainly be some fun had tonight in Chicago.

Mike Hardman

Relishing the Wienermobile

It wouldn’t be an Oscar Mayer visit to campus if it didn’t include a ride in the world-famous Wienermobile.

This ride came after a nice lunch of Oscar Mayer cold cuts and hot dogs. But, as they say, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

And there certainly is no free ride in the Wienermobile.

To get the ride, we had to sing an Oscar Mayer jingle. Let’s just say not many CMAers were in their high schools’ choruses.

But, the humiliation was definitely worth it. The two drivers, Terry Toppings and John Dijon, gave us a great lap around the business school.

I think they set a world record for puns per minute and goofy jokes. “Fasten Your Meatbelts”, “We need to ketch-up to that person”, “How do you make a hot dog stand? Take away his chair”.

Oh and apparently the reason traffic signals are colored the way they are? To celebrate ketchup, mustard, and relish.

All in all, if you are ever near a Wienermobile then taking a ride in it is something you mustard do!

Mike Hardman

Gut Check with Oscar Mayer

What a great way to start academy week. We just got out of a session led by Tom Lopez (Sr. Director at Kraft – Oscar Mayer) and Kelley alum Reed Damon (Sr. ABM, Cold Cuts).
This session was about how to truly understand the consumer. It was aptly called “Exercising Your Marketing Gut”.

Indeed, we learned a lot. Marketing is not just about product attributes and price points. It’s about understanding what is going on in the consumers’ lives.

We watched very touching focus group research conducted by Oscar Mayer. In the video, women explained the hardships they were enduring in this bad economy.

Many women talked about working overtime or taking a 2nd job, having to move, and refusing to let it affect the quality of their kids’ lives.

Keep in mind; this is coming from a company that just wants to sell cold cuts! Ok, in fairness, it sells over a billion dollars’ worth of cold cuts.

But, the point remains: marketing is not just about peddling a product.

Mike Hardman