Discovering Marketing – September Speaker Series Recap

As a freshman coming into Mccombs, I knew I was interested in majoring in marketing, but I didn’t really know why. It was simply a word that popped out to me while I was scrolling through the seemingly endless list of college majors–almost like a gut feeling. I knew the characteristics: connecting with customers, channeling your creativity, and implementing analytics. Yet, reading all the articles in the world wasn’t going to tell me what a career in marketing actually looks like. That’s why I joined AMA. I wanted to explore different career paths in marketing, learn about the day-to-day life, and see if marketing is really my calling. AMA’s speaker series provides me with that opportunity, so here’s a rundown of what I’ve learned so far.


A Day In the Life at Pepsico

This speaker event is exactly what I was looking for in AMA: a peek into the daily life of marketing. Pepsico’s office is in my hometown of Plano, TX. I’ve driven past it countless times, and I’ve always wondered what goes on behind those doors. Jared Hahne and Alex Visser walked us through the process of launching their new brand, Lay’s Poppables, from beginning to end, and this made me realize the intricacies behind branding. They pinpointed the age group that wasn’t generating as much growth as the industry growth rate, identified that it was because they tended to buy popcorn, and proceeded to create an irresistible potato chip-popcorn combo. A detailed look at the entire project showed me how important numbers are when it comes to marketing, how diligent the process is, and just how delicious Lay’s Poppables are!


Rebrand Marketing with VRBO

I never understood the thought process behind rebranding. The only time I’d really seen it happen was when IHOP had the genius idea to become IHOB, and along with the rest of the world, I was not on board. However, this presentation with Liz Tavera had me convinced. I learned about the decision process behind consolidating multiple brands into one. I saw how VRBO uses their message of family and togetherness to differentiate themselves from the all-powerful Airbnb. However, I was most shocked to find out that they went as far as to test out different pronunciations of VRBO to find out which was the most appealing and memorable (turns out, its verb-o). I’ve always wondered why a successful company would want to go through the strenuous process of reinventing itself when it was already so recognizable, and now I know why.


Content Marketing Panel

As part of the Content Committee, this was one I definitely couldn’t miss. Although not technically part of the speaker series, it was just as insightful. All six speakers had different views on what content creation means. They also provided insights on different types of content marketing, but the undeniable middle ground was their passion for what they do. This panel gave me a deeper insight into a field many people disregard as “just social media”, and inspired me to learn more for myself.


Advocacy Marketing with the Sherry Matthews Group

This event was the most eye-opening for me. I never thought of the billboards telling me to buckle my seatbelt or the phrase “don’t text and drive” as marketing. This presentation taught me that advocacy marketing is about marketing a message, and I think that’s what all marketing is at its core. The most important thing I took away from this event was when the speaker, Klaudia Flanigin, told us that she got into advocacy marketing because she was tired of selling random products that didn’t matter; she wanted to help send messages that save lives. This reminded me of why I wanted to get involved in marketing in the first place. It’s not about making the most money possible off of naive consumers who don’t know any better; it’s about serving the needs of people, and making sure the right products, services, and messages get to the people who need them the most.


In Conclusion

I still don’t know everything about marketing. Content creation, branding, guerilla marketing – the list of options goes on and on.  AMA has opened a doorway into this mysterious yet exciting field, but we’ve only scratched the tip of the iceberg, and there’s a lot more left to learn.


By: Jennifer Lin

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