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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University October 22, 2007 | Vol. 37 No. 8
Carey Business School, MICA Pair Up for Innovative Marketing Project

Marketing students from the Carey Business School and design students from Maryland Institute College of Art are teaming up this fall to help get a new generation of contractors and do-it-yourselfers stuck on products made by DAP, the Baltimore-based caulk, sealant and adhesive giant.

The 18 students in the inaugural Competitive Advantage: Design + Business course are pooling their expertise to encourage both professional builders and new homeowners in Generations X and Y to use DAP's line, already a staple of the Baby Boomer fix-it arsenal. The idea is to welcome a new, younger customer base without alienating longtime DAP enthusiasts, according to course instructor Ed Weiss, practitioner faculty and academic adviser in the Department of Marketing at the Carey Business School.

"DAP [executives] understand that as their constituents grow older, they need to branch out to a younger generation to increase the value of their brand," Weiss said. "During the course, we will meet with both their vice president of marketing, David Fuller, and their director of brand development, Rosalyn Williams, to talk about where they are in the marketplace and their brand essence, meaning the personality of their product."

The Carey students, many of them in their early 30s and already working in marketing fields, can tackle the course objectives from positions of strength, as can their MICA counterparts, who are immersed in the design world.

"Our students particularly are looking at graphic, easy ways to attract new customers," Weiss said. "Maybe they'll be using or Friendster, or working through blogs. They are going to find ways to reach an audience that is difficult to reach because they are multitasking so much that it's really hard to get their attention."

How successful the students will be depends on how well they work together to share their strengths to create long-range commercially viable plans incorporating the principles of both marketing and design — a lesson in teamwork that will serve them well in the real world, Weiss said.

"This is one of the biggest challenges both large and small companies face," he said. "It's not always an easy communication between the artistic side of marketing and the technical side of marketing. For instance, the art side wants to be creative and often thinks the business side is trying to stifle them. The idea behind this course is to strike a balance and find a comfort zone to reach a conclusion that will benefit everybody."

Weiss said the goal is to offer the course as often as possible, perhaps once a semester, by finding additional businesses in the region that are interested in participating. The course has plenty of win-win potential: Businesses benefit by gleaning fresh ideas from a talented pool of students, while students gain real-world experience.

"The students love it," Weiss said. "When they can show bosses or potential employers that they've worked on something like this, it's almost like developing a portfolio. If students can leave here showing they have solved problems for various types of companies, it increases their marketability and their viability in the workplace."

The course is one of three new offerings at Johns Hopkins this fall funded by the Provost's Arts Innovation Program, a new initiative offering funding to faculty and staff for courses in the arts, with an emphasis on interdisciplinary and cross-departmental courses.


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