Students from UOWD have emerged as star players in the Dubai launch of the Mercedes-Benz CLC- the next generation C Class CoupÃ© that targets youngsters between 18 and 28. The launch is scheduled to take place on 9 June, as part of the global unveiling of the snazzy new model this month.
For the first time, a marketing campaign created by university students will be used as the driver for a real marketing plan for a swanky new car, following a unique collaboration between Gargash Enterprises and the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD).
It all began when Gargash Enterprises, the sole authorised general distributor of Mercedes-Benz vehicles in Dubai, Sharjah and the Northern Emirates, decided to involve a segment of the target audience in the marketing campaign, by inviting the final year students UOWDs Marketing Communications and Advertising Course (MARK333) for their input. The idea was to pick the most original marketing concept for a youth-targeted car.
"As the Mercedes CLC 2008 is a trendy new model, we decided to involve all 61 students in the marketing exercise and decided to allot 20 per cent marks for the project, said Dr. Alun Epps, the project coordinator and an Assistant Professor of Marketing with the UOWD College of Business. "We formed 14 groups, and each began work separately to create a full proposal for the launch of the new car from scratch.
The students received marketing and communications requirements along with a budget figure of Dh. 275,000 to cover all project-related costs including media buying and event production from senior marketing executives at Gargash Enterprises. The student agencies presented their campaign proposals at the end of April to a panel of executives from Gargash and their consultants. Each agency was then asked to present their plan to Mercedes. Out of these, four were selected to present their proposals to a panel comprising officials from Mercedes Benz and Daimler. The winning team is to be announced at the official launch of Mercedes Benz CLC on June 9 at the Gargash Showroom on Sheikh Zayed Road.
"It was a win-win situation for both sides. Mercedes got fresh creative inputs from the target segment, while the students got a real learning experience on a product that most of them were pleased to associate with, said Dr. Epps. "It was a challenging assignment, but one that pushed the young minds to devise solutions good enough for the real world.
"When we were looking for ideas to launch the new car, we thought that involving bright young students in the creative process would yield good results, said Wassim Derbi, Marketing Manager of Gargash Enterprises. "They would be the best to express what the community wants. The students were required to present the full plan, along with SWOT analysis, student viewpoints and preferences. While the budget was fixed, they were free to choose the modalities, whether print, online, events, or others.
Surprisingly, none of the students actually saw the new car, as the Mercedes CLC is due to arrive in Dubai just on the day of the launch, but they were given detailed product information, based upon which they prepared the launch campaign.
"Actually, all the teams did an excellent job, said Derbi. "Picking the top four was a tough job. In fact, there was a tie between the top two, but we had to pick one as the best.
Participation in the project has given the UOWD marketing students an opportunity to put their knowledge into practice and experience a real life product launch. According to Dr. Epps, the net result of the three-way collaboration is an example of pure marketing synergy, whereby Mercedes gets a suite of creative ideas direct from their primary target market, the students gain first-hand experience of working for one of the worlds most reputed luxury brands and the University enhances its links with the international business community.