Graduate students from the University of Oregon's Lundquist College of Business took home the top prize in the Microsoft Advertising Digital Challenge, a contest to create a digital marketing campaign for the new Web-based software extension Microsoft Office Live Workspace. All five members of the team--ShiMu Huang, Eric Chylinski, Miriam Oh, Kyle Rehder and Neil Young--are first year students in the M.B.A. program at the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center.
"We're proud of the fact that our students were able to take this project on during their own time and compete and win on the national level," said Joan Giese, associate professor of marketing. "They faced some formidable competition, but the product they came up with was clearly a winner."
Giese stressed Lundquist College's ties with Microsoft Corporation. Several faculty members have connections to the company and alerted students to the competition after it was announced. She said the project exemplified the college's partnerships with the private sector and its emphasis on combining academics with real-world experience.
The UO team, which called itself the Digital All-Stars, submitted a written proposal to Microsoft's advertising division that included a PowerPoint presentation offering a detailed analysis of the online file-sharing market and industry and an advertising plan to promote the Microsoft Office Live Workspace. The team's concept involved the use of a character named "Todd" who served to make the product more appealing to college students. The plan included a viral publicity campaign and an "Ultimate Spring Break" contest designed to inspire more students to sign up and use the online file storing and sharing service.
"I think we showed a real understanding of the product and of what Microsoft is trying to accomplish," said team member Neil Young. "Our team functioned very well together."
Young and his teammates were named one of ten semi-finalist teams and invited to New York City to present their proposal to Microsoft Advertising executives in late April. The group received financial assistance from the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center to cover travel expenses after impressing faculty members with its marketing proposal. In New York, the Digital All-Stars advanced to the second round of competition and beat out 136 other teams, including those from MIT, Columbia, Wharton and UC Berkeley, to take the top prize. Each member earned an Xbox gaming system, a video game, and a copy of Microsoft Office Suite 2007.
"We were strongly supported by the faculty, administration and our classmates throughout the competition," said team member Kyle Rehder. "We had a lot of fun putting the campaign together, we proudly represented the university in New York, and it was so rewarding to see all of our hard work pay off."