Kellogg Advanced Marketing Practicum lets students tackle
the complex world of business in a way that resembles what
they’ll encounter after earning their MBA
teaching marketing can feel like performing surgery without
an analogy Professor Gregory
Carpenter suggests when he discusses the Advanced Marketing
Practicum (AMP), a new Kellogg School course that brings students
together with real-world practitioners to solve tough business
school, says Carpenter, students begin in the classroom learning
from anatomy textbooks and lectures. Then they advance to
courses that train them in surgical or other techniques. And
finally these future physicians will apply their skills on
a graduated process,” says Carpenter, the James Farley/Booz
Allen Hamilton Professor of Marketing Strategy. “Obviously
these students don’t get near a live person in the operating
room until after they have demonstrated satisfactory technical
progress. There is a middle step between the classroom and
the real world.”
is true for medical students, and now it’s also true
for Kellogg School MBA students looking to gain experience
with more complex business problems, Carpenter notes.
provides this “middle step” by strengthening the
overall academic experience for its marketing students through
AMP, a course that was offered for the first time last winter.
About 25 students were thrown into the “deep end of
the pool,” says Carpenter, to work with corporate partners,
including Leo Burnett, on actual business challenges.
is structured along less traditional lines, compared to many
Kellogg offerings, to enable students to experience some of
the complexity that awaits them once they assume leadership
roles in marketing. In fact, AMP is designed to provide special
value for those looking to launch careers as marketing experts,
rather than for students seeking a little functional familiarity
in marketing, but who do not anticipate delving too deeply
into the discipline.
Calder, the Charles H. Kellstadt Distinguished Professor
of Marketing, and the practicum’s co-director: “The
students in our inaugural class faced real projects and worked
with a real corporate team looking to solve actual client
problems. They had an opportunity to see how complex life
outside the classroom can be when you are managing these types
The corporate partners had high expectations of the Kellogg
team, and treated them similarly to the way they would treat
colleagues or consultants. There was zero coddling; they wanted
results. Some students were a bit surprised by the intensity
of the experience, say Calder and Carpenter.
Goldberger ’04, however, the practicum worked perfectly
to provide him with a challenging, if unconventional, academic
environment. Goldberger calls the course “student-driven”
and “loose,” but says it was these qualities that
helped deliver fresh, valuable insights for the participants.
team had a unique opportunity to work for a large CPG company
and advertising firm in a ‘safe’ environment where
the only fear was a potentially bad grade, versus the fear
of being fired in the real world,” says Goldberger,
now product marketing manager for the online business of American
didn’t have to memorize difficult formulas or textbook
chapters, he says, but the practicum really tested their ability
to think on their feet.
was an infinite number of potential solutions that my team
and I had to choose from,” Goldberger explains, adding
that their project involved enhancing the branded characters
associated with the Kellogg breakfast cereal line. “We
had to think for ourselves. This is a bold assignment for
a professor to give a group of eager, imaginative MBA students,
and we took full advantage of the situation.”
problems, real solutions, real learning
Student thought leadership and team leadership come together
in the practicum to produce a rich learning opportunity that
leverages and tests classroom insights. Strategies that looked
strong in the abstract or on the textbook page can sometimes
show their limitations when applied in a real context. Similarly,
ideas that at first glance seemed improbable can, when honed,
lead to compelling opportunities.
part, the corporate partners with whom the Kellogg teams worked
were pleased with the practicum — and especially the
creative energy the students brought to their work.
was great to be able to harness fresh young minds to share
in the concepting of new marketing channels for time-cherished
brands,” said Laura Caraccioli-Davis, senior vice president
and director of Chicago-based marketing firm Starcom Entertainment,
one of the companies that participated in the practicum.
associate director, Tom Weeks, said that his company came
away from the experience with novel perspectives from the
students, while the students benefited “by learning
how to sell that thinking through at a client level.”
of benefit is precisely what some students, and many recruiters,
had been requesting, says Carpenter.
recently conducted a curriculum review and interviewed students,
alumni and recruiters to gain their perspectives about the
school’s marketing program, the data indicated that
students were pleased with the summer internship between their
first and second years, but that they also wanted more actual
work experience before graduation. Recruiters, meanwhile,
found Kellogg students exceptionally well trained in concepts
and skills, but suggested that those strengths would be bolstered
with the addition of a new course such as the Advanced Marketing
Kellogg administration moved forward to meet this request,
with Carpenter and Calder spearheading the effort.
the course proved challenging, even for these seasoned professors.
One hurdle with which they had to contend involved striking
the proper balance between structure and complexity, giving
the students a real-world academic experience but delivering
it within the parameters of a 10-week class. Carpenter says
this challenge of “finding the right kind of problem”
to give to students is a perennial one, but it is especially
important to address in a course such as AMP.
material has to be sufficiently structured, yet complex enough,”
he says. “If you make the material too real and complex,
it’s impossible to complete in 10 weeks.”
other hand, with a teaching tool such as the case study, realism
is preserved at the expense of complexity, notes Carpenter.
With AMP, Kellogg tries to deliver both.
a little tricky,” Carpenter admits, but achieving the
mix is key for successfully preparing marketing majors for
the rigors of post-graduation life.
says that in addition to the traditional marketing problems,
such as how to use marketing to be more innovative and how
to tap into the consumer experience to gain the insights to
be more innovative, other conundrums exist.
of the cutting-edge problems facing marketers involves the
structure of brands within organizations, and how to orchestrate
that structure,” says Calder. “There are no obvious
answers to some of these questions.”
issues of concern to marketers include those associated with
the mass market, where fragmentation has created thousands
of potential audiences. And these audiences have grown more
savvy at using technology to customize their media experiences.
do you market through these challenges?” asks Calder.
may never get easier for marketers; but by blending theory
with practice, Kellogg gives its students an excellent shot
at discovering answers to some of the most pressing challenges.
students a real-world experience is what Kellogg is all about,”
says Marc Landsberg ’89, executive vice president of
corporate strategy and innovation at Leo Burnett and member
of the Kellogg Alumni Advisory Board. “There is a constant
permeability between theory and practice, which is what makes
the Kellogg learning environment so rich.”
adds that he is “amazed” at the value of the contributions
that Kellogg School students bring to the table as part of
their AMP experience.
bring a different perspective, and the analysis is unusually
thorough and rigorous,” says Landsberg. “Value-added?