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School Hosts Top Minds in Marketing for Leading Industry Conference on Innovation

June 25, 2009
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   Russ Klein

 Russ Klein, president of global marketing,
 strategy and inovation for Burger King


Leading academics joined top business executives at the School of Business June 18 and 19 to share insights for successfully launching new products and services. The “Customer Insights for Innovation” conference, hosted by the School, was organized by the Marketing Science Institute (MSI), an organization dedicated to bridging the gap between marketing science theory and business practice. Topics ranged from how consumer demand for customized products impacts innovation to building marketing campaigns around “tension.”

“Nothing positions and repositions like tension,” said presenter Russ Klein, the president of global marketing, strategy and innovation at Burger King Corporation. “It forces your brand into a point of view. Through shear force, it separates you from competitors with superior relevance and empathy,” added Klein, who has directed such provocative Burger King campaigns as “Subservient Chicken,” “Whopper Freakout” and “Whopper Virgins.” 

Klein reviewed a number of those campaigns to illustrate his firm’s use of the tension concept. The highly successful “Whopper Freakout” campaign tapped into the crave factor and depravation in order to create tension. The advertisements, produced in documentary style, showed actual Burger King customers “freaking out” when told the Whopper had been removed from the Burger King menu. Klein noted that Burger King has been especially successful in using tension because the process begins upstream in strategy sessions rather than downstream with the creative team.

Robert Meyer   

  Robert Meyer, holder of the Warren
  Johnson Chair and professor of
  marketing at the School of Business

“It is a concept that needs to be strategic, and identifying it upstream allows you more opportunity for advertising relevance and therefore creates, in the downstream process, a higher yield of work that is based on true tension.”

The conference’s academic presenters included faculty from the University of Miami School of Business as well as those from business schools across the country including Harvard Business School, NYU, the University of California, and the University of Colorado. The audience was about evenly split between academics and practitioners, creating a unique opportunity for cross collaboration.

“I believe the business school does have a responsibility to cooperate and work with the business community and we’ve been trying to do that,” said Dean Barbara Kahn in opening remarks. Kahn pointed to the School’s 2008 South Florida real estate conference and its 2009 Global Business Forum as other examples of how the School has brought together business executives with faculty to foster truly dynamic discussions on issues of the day. “You can get that kind of electricity when you bring together the business community with academics, and we’re really happy to be hosting MSI here.”

Also representing the School of Business at the MSI conference were Robert Meyer, holder of the Warren Johnson Chair and professor of marketing and Arun Sharma, vice dean for strategic initiatives and professor of marketing. Meyer’s presentation focused on how consumers forecast the use of products in the future and the implications of that for product design, sales and forecasting. Sharma participated in a panel discussion that followed presentations by John Gourville of the Harvard Business School, who discussed why innovative products often fail in the marketplace, and Adam Goldstein, the president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, who discussed how his firm has used innovation to remain competitive.

   Adam Goldstein

  Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of
  Royal Caribbean International

“We innovate like crazy,” said Goldstein. “And that may apply to a lot of companies, but it has been in our genes from the beginning, and it has fueled significant growth on our part.” Goldstein cited examples ranging from the company’s on-board rock climbing walls to its ice skating rinks. He also proudly pointed to the company’s latest innovation, Oasis of the Seas, the company’s newest cruise ship. Launching in November 2009, Oasis will be the largest cruise ship in the world, with 16 decks and capacity for 5,400 guests. Goldstein walked the audience through the steps that his firm believes are critical to bringing new products such as Oasis to market, which include bringing together key minds with differing expertise, gathering customer feedback, setting a strategy and using it as a guideline, and of course brainstorming “like crazy.”

The Marketing Science Institute, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts holds such conferences throughout the year, in cities across the country. More information can be found on the MSI Web site.

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