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Humber students will help airline brand reach new heights

By Sean McNeely on January 20, 2017


Humber students are ready to help the brand of Ethiopian Airlines Canada take off.

A trio of students from Humber’s Event Marketing class, under professor Ron Caughlin, won a marketing competition in December that had classes create campaigns for the African airline.  

The winning team, called JRM, is made up of students Jaya Mootoo, Roxx Ann Deforeest and Marilyn Sankar.

Their idea, “Footprints in the 6ix,” involves placing elephant footprints around strategic locations in Toronto, bringing attention to their endangered status as well as Ethiopian Airlines’ involvement in their preservation.

“Our idea was to create a web-site based contest to travel to Africa via Ethiopian Airlines Canada to meet and save elephants,” explained Jaya.

“We would promote the contest with a marketing campaign, choose the contest winners at a special event and promote the airline through digital media posts of our adventures going to Africa.”

“All the ideas were phenomenal, but we felt this idea had the most viral appeal,” said Ron. “We felt it would catch on in the City of Toronto and get noticed by the media. Ethiopian Airlines Canada loved it and they’re going to be executing this in March.”

Ron sees the possibilities

The competition was Ron’s idea. Working with Ethiopian Airlines Canada as a consultant, he suggested the airline tap into his students’ talents.

The entire competition was a valuable learning exercise for the students from start to finish, believed Ron.

“They were able to apply all the elements they learned (in class) ‒ how to come up with marketing ideas, how to package those ideas, how to put together a presentation, and how to manage budget and timelines,” he said.

He also walked them through responding to a Request for Proposals (RFP). “I made the competition RFP like a real RFP so that they had to learn the real world process,” said Ron.  

Getting acquainted with the airline

Three-person teams from two classes then got to work. To further their understanding of their potential client, Ron invited the Country Manager for Ethiopian Airlines Canada to speak about who they were and what was important to them.

And to really know the company, the classes were treated to a tour of the airline at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, meeting with company executives and pilots aboard an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

Soon after, the students presented their pitches to Ron and a business colleague who had the difficult task of picking finalists.

“The ideas were amazing,” said Ron. “It was really hard to pick the final six.”

Those final six teams then presented to a panel of Ethiopian Airlines Canada executives.

But just before the final showdown, Ethiopian Airlines sweetened the pot by announcing the winning team would win a trip to Africa.

Transported from student to professional

When the airline selected JRM as the winner, this competition shifted from an academic exercise to a real contract.  

“It’s a real project, a real partnership and they’re going to get paid for their efforts for putting it together, managing it and executing it,” said Ron.

The winning students are thrilled about their upcoming trip and their future partnership.

“We love elephants,” said Jaya. “So having won a ticket to Africa gives us the chance to see elephants in their own habitat, which is a dream come true.  And our plan will actually help elephants, which is also a dream for us. 

And having the opportunity to implement our marketing plan will definitely help our careers,” she continued. “It will give us first-hand experience that would otherwise take us years to gain in the working world as new graduates.”

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