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Students Explore Global Branding Through Insider’s Look at Chicago Cubs Marketing

An updated gallery screen shot from the final presentation that includes our
Students delivered their final presentation to Daniel Green, assistant director of creative & content in the Cubs marketing department, as part of the course Chicago Cubs Brand Insights.

It was an unconventional summer for the Chicago Cubs and for a popular DePaul University business course that explores global branding and the professional baseball team’s marketing strategies.

The Cubs pandemic-shortened season began July 24 with fans watching from home. The course, Chicago Cubs Brand Insights, began the week before with students studying remotely via Zoom. But neither change in format stopped students from getting an insiders’ look at marketing strategies directly from Cubs marketing and sales managers.

Students in the five-week class met virtually with managers in the team’s marketing, fan insights, human resources and partnerships units to learn how the team’s brand has evolved. They also studied what makes global brands – both sports and non-sports – compelling and distinctive through online meetings with brand executives from Geometry Global and 4Front. Then, students formed mock consulting teams and applied what they learned to analyze various global brands. The students presented their insights via Zoom to the Cubs marketing managers, who provided their professional feedback.

Andy Clark, director of sports business programs at the Driehaus College of Business, who teaches the class, says the course provides practical experience that any business graduate can use, whether they work in sports business or not. “The final project is designed to give students a tangible, ‘real world’ business project that will stand out on a résumé and in an interview setting.”

The Cubs marketing team also gained insights from their interactions with the students, says Daniel Green, assistant director of creative & content in the Cubs marketing department. “As we continually strive to enhance our marketing and branding efforts, it’s important that we find opportunities to validate our direction,” he says. “The students, whom themselves represent an important subset of our target audience, were able to do just that. While developing critical research and presentation skills, they provided us with an invaluable set of findings that will allow us to continue down our path with confidence.”

Senior marketing student Jillian Hampston took the course because she’s interested in pursuing a sports marketing career. “This class not only offered the chance to learn from knowledgeable people in the industry, but we got to see how their insights apply first-hand through our consulting project.” she says. “Working directly with the Cubs was extremely valuable to me because it was a great way to get my foot in the door, as many teams cannot offer a hands-on experience like an internship right now. I was also able to gain an understanding of what a career in professional sports would look like, not just from a marketing perspective, but across all departments.

MBA student Jeremy Abramson
MBA student Jeremy Abramson | Photo by Kathy Hillegonds

“I think the biggest thing I took away from this project was confidence,” she adds. “My team and I successfully led conversations and pitched our ideas to the Cubs, which is something not every student can say.”

Her classmate, MBA student Jeremy Abramson, says the course provided him with a unique perspective. “Professor Clark does an amazing job of taking his classes and putting you in real business situations,” he says.

"I gained a lot from this experience. I gained knowledge about a first-class sports organization and how they try to stay ahead of the curve. I learned how organizations like the Cubs are trying to get out ahead of just being good on the field and how they try to maintain and grow their fan base for years to come. It was a very rare opportunity to get the chance to work with and present to an organization of the Cubs magnitude, and that will help me build confidence the next time I am in a business pitch or presenting to upper management.”

Hampston and Abramson said they are both big fans of the Cubs, which made the class even more appealing. “For me,” Abramson says, “it was so cool getting the chance to present my brand insights to my childhood favorite team, the Cubs.”

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