For the 10th year in a row, students in the Sport Marketing Class competed against each other in presenting marketing recommendations to a team of Octagon executives. The Octagon Bowl, is a semester long project in which teams of students are given a real-life brief and are tasked with providing in-depth and strategic marketing solutions for a different company each year. This year’s client, DOOSAN, challenged students to help increase brand awareness and sales by partnering with Major League Baseball. This photo shows the winning team with Octagon executives.
The Octagon Bowl has grown to be a memorable and integral experience for our graduate students. In 2007, former Professor Jay Gladden was looking for a way to get students to consider more than just a career in pro or college sports. He wanted to show creative individuals that there were great opportunities at agencies. He needed a tool that would put students in a position where they would immediately have to apply something they learned in class to a real-life project. That solution was a partnership with Octagon - a global sports and entertainment agency.
“There was a whole host of reasons to seek [this partnership] out,” explained Gladden, “we just got lucky that Octagon was really interested.” Jay paired up with Gord Lang, Chief Growth Officer at Octagon, and they started to lay out the details of the student competition with the help of Christine Franklin (BS ‘00). Student teams would be given a real brief in September - Amstel Light in year one - and they’d have all semester to prepare a marketing strategy, budget and all, to present to a panel of Octagon employees and brand representatives.
Gladden and Lang both viewed this as a competition and as a professional experience for students. It wasn’t until Octagon employees started to approach Gladden after the competition to inquire about students that they started to view it as an opportunity for talent acquisition as well. “It’s a great example of how the program can work with an organization to come up with a mutually beneficial program,” stated Gladden. Fast-forward to 2017, and the entire panel of judges is made up of UMass alumni.
After competing in the Octagon Bowl last year, Rachel Levitsky and Konrad Hess were hired by the agency (MS ‘17). This year, they sat on the panel of judges. “Having the industry knowledge I do now, and looking back on my competition, I’m taken by how real the entire project is,“ Levistky explained, “while [the Octagon Bowl] may have been difficult while I was a student, it prepared me for my career more than any other coursework would have.”
This partnership has given ten years worth of students an unforgettable and important professional experience. Many have received jobs or internships as a result of their work with the Octagon Bowl, and all have gained valuable insight into agency life. We’d like to extend a sincere “Thank You” to all those who have helped to make this such a successful partnership.