“Embrace the Local in You” seduces PUMA and wins the 2017 Challenge Garage

  • Students present the brand with an online and offline strategy with local partners

Blurring the line between online and offline and working with local partners in a local marketing strategy to attract young audiences. That was the pitch made by a group of MSC students at UPF Barcelona School of Management to the directors of PUMA. The students offered the executives a solution to improve the brand’s connection with its audience and create real, emotional experiences that consumers can identify and connect with.

PUMA had asked for a digital strategy, but the students convinced the company’s directors that separating the online and offline spaces makes no sense in today’s world. For this reason, they suggested that the brand link up with local people, companies and events and create an app that would enable its followers to discover the most interesting sports and social events and activities in their area. Run the Streets:Embrace the Local in You is the name of the proposed PUMA app. The app will digitally link users’ sports activities and social lives and plan out the major sporting and social events in their city: from markets such as Palo Alto to music and food festivals, sports competitions, street art routes, DJ sets, artists’ exhibitions, new start-ups, and more. Each user will be able to plan their activities, see whether their friends are attending, and even earn attendance points that can be exchanged for discounts, invitations, etc. “We’re bringing the global values of PUMA to the local level via local partners and an app that will not only allow us to present ourselves as a “cool” brand with great offers, but also provides an opportunity to meet our audience and design unique, standout experiences that are in line with what our audience likes”, explained the students. The team comprises Melek Kücükaksu from the Master of Science in Marketing; Joakim Wennerlund, Evan Derian and Pau Miñarro from the Master of Science in International Business; and Kamil Ratajczyk from the Master of Science in Finance and Banking.

PUMA liked the proposal very much, not only for its ingenuity, but also for the strategic thinking, planning and presentation that went into it. Most importantly, they also appreciated the ease of local implementation. “In other words, we can start implementing the proposal here without it affecting the rest of the company. That’s what convinced us, because the team were able to identify local events and people that can connect the brand to the consumer, and bring them together using an app that will allow us to digitally obtain information and knowledge about our clients”, explained Juan Carlos Jiménez, the Head of Sales at PUMA.

Seven finalist projects

UPF Barcelona School of Management’s Challenge Garage is a project involving open innovation applied to the learning context. Teams of students from different programs (in this instance the seven Master of Science programs), of different nationalities and with different areas of knowledge, work together in mixed groups in order to solve the same business challenge. There were seven finalist projects: PUMA Booth, PUMA Fest, Team Formula 1, Where the Sports Happens, VR Puma Experience, Puma Path, and the eventual winner, Embrace the Local in You.

Bayer praised the high quality of all the finalist projects. “We were really surprised by the students’ capacity to develop ideas that clicked perfectly with us, without having access to all the data or much knowledge of the company”. Jiménez valued the students’ fresh approach, capacity for innovation and creativity. “We think it’s a great initiative, because companies are so wrapped up in our day-to-day concerns that we need this injection of new ideas, new visions and uncontaminated proposals”.  

Connecting company and talent

The seven finalist projects were presented in front of a panel made up of academics from UPF Barcelona School of Management and the management team at PUMA. Specifically, those present at UPF comprised the company’s heads of Marketing, Sales, Merchandising and Human Resources. “It’s interesting to see the ideas, but it’s just as interesting to see and discover the students’ talent”, the PUMA representatives said. “For us, this real engagement on the part of the company, which not only presented a genuine challenge but also worked and interacted with our students, is very important because it helps to realize the connection we’re looking to make between the school, the company and the students”, explained Clara Kirchner, the Director of Alumni and Corporate Relations at UPF Barcelona School of Management. UPF’s graduate school is convinced that kicking off the postgraduate studies with a Challenge Garage, in which students tackle real business challenges and employ methodologies such as design thinking, creativity, value propositions, business plans and public presentations, will help students develop skills such as cooperation, creativity and innovation. “We must produce graduates who are more creative and who are capable of finding innovative solutions to the problems companies face today”, asserted Daniel Serra, the Dean of UPF Barcelona School of Management.