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“Without the culture, there is no business”: Global Brands Winterim in New York City

By: Andres Porras, Guest Writer

New York City is one of the most diverse places on the planet where over 800 languages are spoken, and nearly 40 percent of its residents are born outside of the U.S. Do these facts amaze you? Of course not. This city is just the perfect place for a T-Bird. There, for two weeks 48 Thunderbird students from at least 14 different nationalities took the Global Brand Winterim. But if the city wasn’t perfect enough for this experience, Times Square, where the American Management Association is located and where the sessions were held, completed it. Illuminated from bright billboards and giant screens, only the best brands can afford to be and advertise in Times Square.

Photo Courtesy of Porras
Photo Courtesy of Porras

The freezing temperatures and wind-chill of the winter in New York (-5ºC/23ºF average the first week), and the long commute of some to get in time (1:30 hours) were not an obstacle for this Winterim. Eager to understand the strategy behind brand management explained by brand managers and consultants from top global companies, everybody arrived punctually to every session.

Photo Courtesy of Porras
Photo Courtesy of Porras

It was not a surprise to find that many of these managers and consultants came from different parts of the world as well, for example Canada, Brazil, United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy.  They represented multi billion brands from companies such as General Electric, Amway (Artistry), MINI, Coca Cola (Fuze), DeCecco, ExxonMobil (Mobil Motor Oils), Jet Blue, Domino’s Pizza, Unilever (Vaseline) or leading marketing consulting firms such as Lippincott, JWT, Initiative (IPG Mediabrands), Type 2 Consulting, The Other Side of the Brain, and BERA.

One of the most important lessons learned from the Winterim is that brand management is a team effort and not only the brand managers’ role. Every department of a company has to be involved in a successful brand management, from innovation, supply chain, human resources, and finance to marketing and communications. This conclusion is very important as it showed which are the key skills that a marketer should develop, finding very important communication, influence, and quantitative analysis skills, among others.

Someone might think that marketing and finance are two separate disciplines for example, however marketers must know how to answer to finance guys the ROI of a marketing campaign or how to value a brand. Usually marketers fail to do so and struggle trying to justify why a strategy is good for the business in terms of economic value. Measuring effectively a marketing campaign, a successful marketer can show how it can increase customer value and charge a premium price, which at the end will increase the revenue and shareholder value. Moreover, marketers should understand in which industry they are working and benchmark their company’s brands to measure how much of the company’s value is brand and how by implementing a successful marketing campaign their values can increase.

Photo Courtesy of Porras
Photo Courtesy of Porras

It is a general characteristic that in Thunderbird you will find different backgrounds and professional experiences. However, during this Winterim everyone agreed on the importance of marketing and brand management for a company, regardless of the industry. During the visit at two of the biggest marketing communication agencies in the world, JWT and Initiative, a hands on experience of what is to work in a company like those was offered and at the end everyone found endless opportunities to work in that environment using their transferable skills. Additionally, many realized that they have been working in brand management areas for the past couple of years performing market research, price strategies, benchmarking competition, and customer service activities, among others.

But not everything was about brands and strategy; there was time for fun too. In a city that never sleeps, where “If I can make it there, I’m gonna make it anywhere” some had the opportunity to explore endless gastronomic options; beautiful sightseeing of the city’s architecture and urban landscaping; thriving, opulent, and high-energy bars and nightclubs; or quiet, educational, and magic museums (by the way some curious activities included a visit to the Museum of Sex and the No Pants Subway Ride).

The Global Brands Winterim was recognized from someone who has done Module Abroad and TEM Lab, as the best experience the school has to offer. No doubt.

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