Bauer Graduate Students Impress PepsiCo with Marketing Strategy

Published on October 19, 2016

Student Team Named National Finalist at Prospanica Case Competition

Graduate students Jacob Torres, Pooja Radkrishnan, Laxmi Ramana, Xiuting Hao and John Stacy placed third at the 2016 Prospanica Case Competition edging out student teams from nearly 70 business programs across the country.

Graduate students Jacob Torres, Pooja Radkrishnan, Laxmi Ramana, Xiuting Hao and John Stacy placed third at the 2016 Prospanica Case Competition edging out student teams from nearly 70 business programs across the country.

A team of five graduate students from the C. T. Bauer College of Business earned a national finalist slot recently by creating a global marketing plan for Pepsi.

Full-time MBA students John Stacy and Jacob Torres, along with MS Finance students Xiuting Hao, Laxmi Ramana and Pooja Radkrishnan, placed third at the 2016 Prospanica Case Competition held last month in Houston and edged out student teams from nearly 70 business programs across the country.

The competition required participants to create a global marketing plan for Pepsi involving new and emerging technologies, with the Bauer students proposing a strategy that included an app in the style of Pokémon Go to attract customers to Pepsi vending machines with free drinks. Their plan also outlined a partnership with a nonprofit to provide water to developing countries in exchange for a 5 cent donation, as well as a social media initiative that would display user-submitted photos on smart vending machines.

“We didn’t just pick an item and say we’re going to implement this and it’s going to work great,” Torres said. “We actually decided to look at how the Internet is used in totality around the world, how it’s going to be used in the future. And we looked at how Pepsi brands itself and how people consume soft drinks and beverages.”

Radkrishnan added: “It pushed us to the limits to think outside the box because what we needed to come up with was new strategies for Pepsi, and they already have so many out there. So that was really challenging and exciting, to come up with new ideas, push ourselves to the limit and make sure that we could actually sell our idea to Pepsi.”

Although most of the students on the team had no prior experience in marketing, their creativity and ability to work as a team allowed them to be successful, they said.

“We had two to three weeks to write the 20 page report and send it to them,” Hao said. “They took a week to review all our goals, and then they emailed back the results that four teams were chosen to be finalists.”

The team then met with Bauer Clinical Assistant Professor Nikhil Celly, who provided feedback and advice as they prepared a final presentation for the competition.

Despite the time commitment and effort required, the students said they welcomed the challenge because it provided a way for them to put to practice some of the knowledge they’ve learned in the classroom and to develop new skills.

“I thought this was a great opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone and do something that I’d never done before,” Ramana said. “I learned a lot about marketing strategies, teamwork and presentation skills.”

Stacy added: “It was a great opportunity to practice coming up with a strategy, making it work financially and then presenting it in front of a bunch of people.”

By Priscilla Aceves & Jessica Navarro