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     Volume 2 Issue 89 | October 12, 2008|


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IBA Triumphs in International Marketing Competition

Ridwan Karim

When the seven students from BBA 14th batch, Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka, decided to participate in the 2008 Marketing Agencies Association (MAA) Worldwide Global Academic Challenge, they had little idea that they were accomplishing much more than just adding another item to their CVs. Therefore, the announcement on the fateful day of 29 September, stating that the “Ensemble” Team from IBA has won a Bronze for their “Let There be Light” entry in this year's “Change Climate Change” Academic Challenge, was met with incredulous joy and unmitigated delight.

Team Ensemble, comprising of Khandker Aumio Shahriar (Team Leader), A B M Sohel, Zeeshan Bayezid Rahman, Naheyan Hye, Tawsif Saleheen, Joydeep Chowdhury and Baizeed Md. Nur, is responsible for this phenomenal addition to the string of successes that IBA has been enjoying in the global arena in recent years. Professor Syed Munir Khasru, Moderator of IBA Communications Club (IBACC), extended the necessary cooperation and encouragement in their endeavor. The team is especially grateful to Syed Gousul Alam, CEO, Grey Advertising Bangladesh Ltd; and Asif Touhid, and Rumi Shafiullah, coordinators of MAA Bangladesh.

The global competition was organized by Marketing Agencies Association Worldwide (MAA), an organization dedicated to CEOs, Presidents, Managing Directors and Principals of Marketing Services Companies. Each year, MAA recognizes the very best Promotion Marketing Campaigns from Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, North America, South Africa, South America and the United Kingdom in the MAA GLOBES Recognition Program. Following up their programs in the year 2007, MAA invited classes in universities and business schools throughout the world to take up their challenge for the year 2008: “Changing Climate Change”, for a fictitious Government Client.

The participating teams from all the corners of the world were instructed about the salient features of their assignment in a detailed brief circulated by MAA. The teams had to envision their Client as the National Government Department in their country responsible for the Environment, and specifically, for urgent national action on Climate Change. The MAA brief also spelled out a number of parameters involved in the project. The participants had to assume that their country's prime energy source is generated from coal-fired electricity, which is the major contributor of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, which, in turn, is the major cause of climate change. Secondly, it was believed that if individual households became more energy conscious, they will carry the “energy efficiency” message into communities and then workplaces. Finally, each participating team were told that they would be playing the role of an actual Promotion Marketing Agency for this exercise and would therefore need to provide a name for their Agency.

The task was to develop a Communication Campaign which will run for six months in the largest city in the country, encouraging and motivating householders to voluntarily reduce electricity consumption. The campaign had to be focused on the difficult job of bringing about long-lasting behavioural change. Each team was expected to submit a clear set of campaign objectives, a concise marketing plan, execution recommendations, creative suggestions and a process for measuring and evaluating results.

These were the challenges lying ahead of Team Ensemble, as they set about their undertaking in their own methodical but eccentric fashion. After they had set up a basic framework for their campaign, they decided to consult Mr. Syed Gousul Alam seven days before the deadline for submission. It was through his assistance and guidance that the team realized their campaign needed to be a bit more creative and 'out-of-the-box' to create the necessary impact on the judges.

With the deadline looming large in the horizon, it was back to the drawing board for Team Ensemble. The members dedicated long hours deep into the night racking their brains to come up with a sufficiently unique communication campaign. The arbitrary nature of the brain-storming sessions is reflected by the fact that, at one point, the team members found themselves musing about alternate sources of protein and watching Samuel L. Jackson films for inspiration. It was then that the team made a bold decision. They decided to abandon all of their conventional plans and go for an outrageous, and thus, an exceptional campaign. The idea was to either burst onto the global stage with vigour or go down in a blaze of glory. It was perhaps this audacity that secured them the Bronze award out of 30 entries from 12 countries all over the world.

In order to propose a solution that will be effective, the team had to have an intimate understanding of the power sector of Bangladesh and have a clear insight regarding the usage of electricity by the general populace. Having segmented the target audience into the higher class and the lower class, they decided to use the cyclical pattern of load-shedding in our country to their advantage for their “Let There be Light” campaign. Most of their activities were targeted towards the lower class, as they account for the majority of electricity consumption. The entire campaign hinged on two significant psychological insights. Firstly, people realize the need for electricity more than ever during power cuts and might be more receptive towards any suggested solution to this problem during that period of time. Secondly, since electronic devices cannot be used during load-sheddings due to unavailability of power or are turned off so that the backup for lights and fans last longer, people are short of recreational activities. Any sort of entertainment offered during this time would be well received.

The team decided to discard traditional forms of media in favour of personalized communication to entertain their target audience and inform them of direct incentives for changing their pattern of behavior (e.g. 15% reduction in electricity consumption will lead to a 50% reduction in load shedding). A phase-by-phase approach to the problem was designed to reach the maximum number of the target market by breaking the clutter of advertisements, providing entertainment value and spreading the word-of-mouth to generate spontaneous interest in the purpose of the campaign. The highlights of the campaign were the use of creative communication tools and the dissemination of the 7 Tips to Save Electricity, a short and catchy guideline incorporating convenient and easy-to-remember techniques for the purpose stated.

This, in a nutshell, is the simple-but-effective plan that prompted the International Judging Panel of 30 Judges representing Academia, Clients and MAA Members to give the Bronze award to Team Ensemble in this prestigious competition - a decision that was made only after long deliberations. Because the scoring this year was extremely close, two additional sessions were required with Judges from France, Brazil, UK, USA and Australia to determine the eventual outcome. The Winner of the GLOBE was a Team from Taylor's College, Malaysia and the Silver Certificate went to a Team from the University of New South Wales, Australia while the team from IBA narrowly became third. A documentary featuring the seven members of the Bronze team in the backdrop of IBA will be aired in the 23rd MAA Globes Award Ceremony to be held in Toronto, Canada on October 20th.

Going through the marketing plan devised by the team from IBA, one cannot help but feel that it has great chances of solving a seemingly insurmountable problem that has been plaguing our country for too long. The ultimate achievement belongs to MAA Worldwide with the recognition of Team Ensemble, they have successfully accomplished their goal of discovering and promoting young marketing talent throughout the World.


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