January 14, 2015
Coaching 8th graders to pitch a new shoe to Nike isn’t exactly something that happens every day at m+p. But this past December, our entire company found ourselves doing just that – with over fifty 8th graders!
We partnered with SuitUp, a local NYC non-profit that organizes one-day middle and high school marketing competitions with local businesses. SuitUp is all about exposing students from low income schools to new careers through creative competitions. For a day, our New York office became a classroom.
Students were divided into teams to solve a real problem for a real company: creating a new shoe and marketing plan for Nike. We were their coaches as we helped guide them through the creative process. And we were their loudest cheerleaders as they presented their ideas to a panel of judges, m+p’s very own CEO and partners. The stakes were high. The winning team would win a cash prize and serious bragging rights.
Everyone jumped right into it. Immediately, the office turned into a bustling brainstorming tank, with teams shouting out creative ideas for cool gadgets to include in their new shoe design – GPS tracking, anyone? They even came up with key celebrity endorsements. After the product details were voted on and refined, we then moved on to the actual pitch.
At m+p, we tell our clients, “it’s not what you say, it’s what they hear.” And that’s the same coaching advice we shared with our student teams.
They were also exposed to a new career path that many of them were not familiar with. Giving students this type of experience helps expose them to future possibilities they didn’t know existed before. Importantly, students were able to practice creative and critical thinking in a supportive environment. They were also able to discover and even show off their individual skill sets, such as public speaking and visual art.
It seems cliché to say they taught us more than we taught them. But as they gave their pitch to the judges, they reminded me of a lesson in successful communication: there’s no replacement for genuine enthusiasm. Enthusiasm brings your words to life and helps your audience participate in your vision.
And by that standard, among others, they all hit it out of the ballpark with their presentations.
Here are some highlights from the day. We’re excited to have had the opportunity to share what we know about language and brainstorm the perfect pair of kicks with these bright students!
If you or your company are interested in learning more about SuitUp and getting involved, find out more about them at http://www.suitupnyc.com/.