The six-week Digital Marketing Challenge, offered exclusively to ESSEC Marketing Management and Digital (MMD) cohort, is a chance for students to test their classroom knowledge in the real world and gain mentorship from global companies.
Creative ideas mean nothing if no one can execute them, MMD student Marion Gaudichon, matter-of-factly, declares. “If you don’t have the right method to communicate or the right objective, it won’t work.”
This is one of her group’s biggest takeaways after participating in ESSEC’s annual Digital Marketing Challenge.
The challenge, offered exclusively to the MMD cohort, was designed to help students bridge the gap between school and work by equipping them with a portfolio of work.
“When they look for a job, it’s important to demonstrate that they’ve done something with a real company, and they’ve worked on a real issue,” Professor Tuck S. Chung, Academic Director of the MSc in MMD, shares.
By giving students a chance to collaborate with global companies and helm the development of a strategy that serves real business needs, they, therefore, gain the real-world experience that gives them an edge, Tuck says.
He adds that ESSEC curates the yearly list of partners to ensure a diverse scope for students to work on. While in previous years, students worked with big names like Johnson & Johnson and Richemont, this year’s lineup includes the latter and brand names such as Decathlon, Giorgio Armani Beauty, Lancome, and Roger Dubuis.
Steering Students in the Right Direction
“It’s a privilege to be able to showcase yourself and what you’re capable of – while at the same time learning from them and getting insights,” Xeena Morales, who worked on a human resources project for Richemont, shares. For her team, it was a lesson on developing the best possible ideas within real-world limitations and how to “market” these ideas, not just to customers but also to the client.
Marion’s group, which pitched a strategy targeting the Decathlon hiking community, was similarly forced to dive deep into the rationale of their proposals.
In the process, they learned the importance of engaging rather than just pushing information on the consumers, Shagun Khandelwal shares.
“We realized how you could use organic comments and posts to try and involve the customer in different ways. It isn’t just about bringing in technology,” she recalls.
A major highlight was the mentorship from Sophie Broome, Regional Supply Planner and Category Analyst at Decathlon Singapore, who encouraged creativity and offered clarity, Filippo Pirri adds.
“Sophie really took ownership and was super involved. She could guide us and see the obstacles and patterns. This was incredibly helpful for us to shape our direction,” he explains.
A Fresh Perspective for the Future of Marketing
It was a win-win for both sides — while students gained from industry experience, companies, too, gained from the perspective of the younger generation.
Speaking at the judging panel, one of Business Managers, L’Oreal, complimented the students for their efforts to go beyond classroom theory.
“You took the time to understand the brand and what’s happening on the ground to drive accessibility and implementability of your ideas,” she observes, adding that their fresh insights were crucial in helping the brand push the boundaries for the future.
Because sometimes, that is also what marketing is. While working within limitations is important, there are also times when in order to progress, rules must be broken.