So what is a marketing innovathon I hear you asking? When I saw this advertised, my curiosity got the better of me too and I had to apply to find out.

Innovathon was the perfect word to describe this event – a mixture of marketing ideas, innovation, hands on industry experts and definitely a test of endurance.

Over fifty Cass students arrived at Unruly headquarters on Friday evening after a week of lectures. I’m sure few of us were debating the decision, as we arrived cold, tired and a little hungry. But within an hour I knew I had made the right choice. Over the next 24 hours I would meet senior managers from Colgate & Tesco, be one of the first people in the UK to see their new whitening pen product and finally get the opportunity to pitch an idea of how to market this new product on their e-commerce platform. You could win the ultimate prize of pitching your idea to the marketing & sales teams at Colgate-Palmolive and Tesco and even see your campaign rolled out in the UK. Split into teams we quickly got to know each other, as we had lots to do in the next 24 hours.

With briefings from both Tesco and Colgate, and huge amounts of research on the customer profile, statistics on their e-commerce platform and world class digital campaigns we were armed to tackle our first task – create our big idea!

Re-fuelled with Pizza and beers, and our energy feeding off each other we spent the next 3 hours coming up with innovative ideas. We left that night buzzing, and our energy levels a long way off our arrival that evening.

An early start the next morning we all filled back in with a nervous tension in the room. In less than two hours we had to pitch our idea to the judging panel in an X factor style audition. This would be the hard bit, focusing all our ideas on one and delivering our X factor pitch. With smiles from the judges during our pitch we knew they loved it. So we were back to work now to put this big idea into practice.

Innovathon

How would we measure success of this campaign? Where would we advertise? How would we take the customer on the right journey to ensure product sales? What social media would we use? These were just a few of the questions we had to answer in the next four hours, when we would present to whole judging panel and the winning campaign would be picked. This is where the marathon definitely kicked in, and we had to keep focused to ensure we stayed on the right track. Thankfully our industry mentor helped and intervened a few times to keep us on course. We got advice from Tesco’s, Colgate and marketing agency experts, which was invaluable to help create and develop our online strategy.

Focusing on the target customer, we created the campaign “Celebrate your smile”. We based our idea around times that make ordinary people smile, with social media campaigns and videos from the public showing their smile. This was to drive engagement in an innovative way to the public and launch this new product. The next key focus had to be converting this engagement into online sales, with the main KPI as conversion rates when visiting the Tesco e commerce platform.

Four hours later the teams were going head to head with presentations, hoping to win the overall prize and the chance to pitch to Tesco and Colgate senior team. Great ideas, and confident pitches made it difficult to choose the winner.

Who would have thought teams of students could create a complete digital campaign to launch a new product in just 24 hours. It’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it. As a few great leaders have said to me, “when you want something done in life you give it to a busy person.” I think that’s definitely true in this case.

What a great opportunity the weekend was to meet and learn from new people, and put our ideas into practice in a real life industry. Good luck to the winning team who get to pitch their idea to Tesco & Colgate. How amazing would it be to see it launched in the UK.

The team

Cara Macklin, Full-time MBA 2015, Cass Business School