by Anvar Jay Varadaraj, MBA ’13
A number of prominent companies conduct guest lecture sessions during the Strategic Marketing Immersion so students can gain an understanding of how marketers apply the theory we learn in class when they go on to intern and work full-time.
Mars North American Chocolate has a prominent presence on campus, and it offered two sessions during my first year: (1) The Mars “Crack the Case” session in partnership with the Marketing Association and (2) the in-class session focused on evaluating creative work done by Mars’ agency partners.
Mars’ “Crack the Case” proved to be an invaluable session for my general interview preparation. Mars is notorious for its rigorous case interviews to understand candidates’ abilities to apply marketing theory. During the session, an associate brand manager and a brand manager walked us through a number of hypothetical cases that covered topics such as product launches, competitive threats, and unexpected challenges that a brand manager may face. They provided suggestions on frameworks that we could possibly use to solve such cases. They also left us with a solid understanding of how Mars leaders think about common marketing problems, which gave us an edge during our internship interviews.
Mars’ in-class ad review is one of the most popular sessions during the Strategic Marketing Immersion, I think. Mars has a reputation for having some of the strongest creative work in the industry, and they used the session to discuss how brand managers go about evaluating their agency partners’ creative work. During the session, an associate brand manager on Snickers along with two partners from the agency walked us through the creative launch of Snickers Peanut Butter Squared. Being a fiercely private company, it was a rare opportunity to see all of the creative briefs they considered before opting for the focus group commercial with the sharks. You’ve probably seen it on TV.
Both sessions were key to my decision to intern with the company. The case session gave me a sense that Mars valued strategic thinking and problem solving, which I considered to be personal strengths. Finally, given my interest in creative work, the ad review session gave me a glimpse into the possible work that I might be doing during my internship at the company.