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Iowa Marketing MBAs Finalists in Cadillac Competition

Five first-year MBA students from the Henry B. Tippie College of Business at The University of Iowa are traveling to Detroit, Michigan, as finalists in Cadillac's national marketing case competition.

Undergraduate and graduate (MBA) teams from across the country submitted proposals to Cadillac, the sponsor of the national marketing case competition. Cadillac chose to limit the competition to a maximum of 100 teams; a total of sixteen MBA teams participated. The top two undergraduate and top two MBA teams will be flown, all-expenses-paid, to the competition in Detroit.

The entries were ranked, and the team from the Tippie College of Business was chosen as one of two MBA finalists. They will present their recommendations to Cadillac executives and members of Cadillac's advertising agency, Chemistri, in Detroit on May 25.

Top team prize for the competition is $3,000, while the second place team will win $1000. In addition, one student from the top team will have an opportunity to be an intern at Chemistri. However, all members of the Tippie team have secured internships for the summer.

Marketing students Nicolle Elsasser, Jane Merten, Stephen Clark, Gabriel Hansen, and Leon Meschoulam conducted research and submitted recommendations to Cadillac for revitalizing the brand image. Associate Professor of Marketing Thomas Gruca served as the team's advisor.

"Cadillac's history of innovations is second-to-none," explained Clark. "However, they are now perceived as a conservative vehicle for older people." The project criteria from Cadillac required the student teams to integrate original primary research with secondary data to better understand luxury car buyer dynamics. The Tippie team chose to conduct focus groups as their method of primary research.

"After watching focus group videos from Tom, we were convinced this was the way to go," explained Elsasser. "Focus groups allowed us to ask the probing and follow-up questions that were needed to effectively answer the problems presented by Cadillac."

The team's final product was a complete marketing campaign that included a new slogan ("Cadillac: Luxury Rediscovered"), print advertising samples, national and local promotional programs, and a projected budget. The case competition demanded significant time and effort, but it was a worthwhile experience for team members.

"The hands-on marketing research experience I gained was invaluable," said Elsasser. "And I really enjoyed working together as a team and getting to know my classmates and Tom better. We were all so committed to the project that everyone gave 100%."

The Tippie MBA marketing concentration provides a springboard for careers in brand, category and product management, marketing research, and sales and sales management. Marketing courses emphasize the practical application of marketing knowledge and research. Course offerings include marketing research, buyer behavior, product management, advertising and promotion in the contexts of consumer, business to business, service and international marketing.

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