The end of the term was nearing and the anticipation crackled through the wet and warm campus air. As it jolted from student to student, it mixed with the booming voice of an announcer, his declarations echoing outward from Ohio Stadium. It was the Ohio High School Athletic Association's Football State Championships and it was doing nothing to help the sense of finality that was creeping across campus, infecting everyone it touched.
In a far corner of the Ohio Union, however, a different feeling danced through the air. In the Cartoon Room, surrounded by the works of pioneering cartoonists from OSU and Columbus, change was the topic on everyone's lips: changing perceptions; changing behaviors; changing the world. But what better atmosphere for the beginning of the second annual Marketing for a Better World?
Started by AMP in 2015, Marketing for a Better World aims to showcase marketing companies & executives that have made a concerted effort to have a positive impact on the world. Students from within and without Fisher, Columbus area professionals and representatives from non-profit organizations congregate to hear what these executives have to say and to exchange ideas (and business cards!) of their own.
This year's executives represented Kellogg's, Pear and Team Rubicon. Additionally, local non-profit such as Ronald McDonald House, Green Columbus, the Ohio Psychological Association and the Mid-Ohio Foodbank were on hand to host roundtable discussions with the students. New to this year's event were a series of breakout sessions hosted by Fisher professors and alumni who each brought their unique perspectives on using marketing to make the world a better place.
No time was wasted in bringing out the biggest name of the day: Todd Smith of Kellogg's. Smith serves as Director of Brand and Innovation Marketing and was in attendance to talk about Kellogg's efforts at creating sustainability through their frozen food brand, MorningStar Veggies. MorningStar has made it their mission to not only sell a delicious and healthy product, but to also reduce the footprint that their products have on the environment. Smith put into perspective just how environmentally taxing the production of beef and other meat products can be. He then showed us a documentary feature on a vegan lifestyle that MorningStar supported which featured people with lifestyles as varied as Hollywood stuntwoman, hip-hop artists and even the owners of a butcher shop that does a "Meatless Monday" campaign. He ended his talk by gifting everyone in attendance with a coupon for a free MorningStar product.
Up next was Jared Golden who talked about the marketing association he founded, Pear. Pear connects small non-profit groups and community organizations with corporate sponsors. Groups earn funds by mobilizing their networks to engage online with their brand sponsor. For example, a little league baseball team takes their team to a Wendy's after the big game and shares pictures of their experience. The team benefits by receiving compensation for their advertising and Wendy's benefits from having a grassroots marketing campaign.
After Golden finished, it was time for lunch and the breakout sessions. Attendees could choose to attend any of the following workshops: "Ethics in Marketing" hosted by Fisher professor, David Freel; "Social Entrepreneurship & Community Engagement" hosted by Fisher alum and Executive Board Member of Green Columbus, Christine Deye; and "Sustainability" hosted by another Fisher alum Claus Eckert, the Executive Director of Green Columbus.
Following lunch came the final speaker of the day, Pat Ross III, Head of National Membership for Team Rubicon. Team Rubicon's mission states that they "unite the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams." Think of them as the Red Cross, but with the tactical training and selfless spirit of the United States Armed Forces. Ross preached the values of Team Rubicon's work and showed us powerful testimonial videos of the impact that their work has had, both on the community and within the members of their own organization.
When Ross' talk came to a close, students had the opportunity to sit with the representatives of local non-profits to talk about some of the unique challenges that come with working for a non-profit and how they have to market themselves differently from your typical corporation.
Talk of change came in many forms that day, but left a singular impression in the minds of each and every attendee: marketing can make the world a much better place.