The bond of
music | Oil's
In the nick of time
already-successful watch company hires you to give advice, you had better
give them more than the time of day. Fourteen Neeley School seniors did
By Nancy Bartosek
fractured by nerves skitter quietly across a Dallas-area boardroom. For
these seniors, dressed for power and a tad weak in the knees, a semester-long
project is now down to this: awaiting top-brass executives of Fossil,
the new-age company known for its way-cool watches and retro-style advertising.
Believe it or not, these company honchos want to hear what these wet-behind-the-business-plan
students have to say.
this Neeley School brain trust isn't your father's Timex. Dubbed the New
Millennium Marketing Group, this group was specially selected for Instructor
Becky Beasley's Marketing Application Project, then hired out last fall
to help Fossil reset its watch and apparel marketing efforts through formal
research, complete with final report and recommendations.
ready now, this group had precious little time to waste when it first
18: Shorts, t-shirts and one random suit sit in a casual circle in a corner
room of Dan Rogers Hall. The group looks like its wardrobe -- diverse
yet mismatched. But there is energy in the room, brain power Beasley is
struggling to direct. Slowly, leaders begin to emerge. Chris Test is obviously
a no-nonsense type. Boyish-looking Oliver Hooser stands out as designated
class joker. Brenda McLean, a mother of two, listens intently but says
little. Conversation is disjointed but somehow the group decides to conduct
focus groups, make a TV ad for the Neeley Network and hold a big Fossil
event in November. The student-led campaign will bear the theme: It's
about time. Or is it?
1: Lara Fort, shifting somewhat uncomfortably in her suit, relies heavily
on a script as she steers 12 students through a focus group, her first.
But she's naturally gregarious and forges ahead. From behind a two-way
mirror, Beasley watches the process quietly, her face stone.
23: Beasley, finally voicing fears she's carried for several weeks, says
with relief, "This class just wasn't pulling together, but one of the
students just called me and said, Let me do it.' "
-- Nov 4:
Brandon Logsdon, the self-appointed leader, begins going over the extensive
list of must-do's for the group's big campus tent event, an all-you-can-eat-and-all-you-want-to-know-about-Fossil
shindig: Pick up water and sandwiches, nab ice from the dorms. "Albertson's
said they will donate 1,000 plates, but if they can't up that number,
go elsewhere," is thrown across the room. Someone leans over a neighbor's
notes and asks, "Do we need to add trash cans to that list?" McLean keeps
it all straight. Beasley walks in. No one notices.
17: The big day. It's miserably cold and raining. All their promotional
signs were trashed the night before by campus people cleaning up election
placards. One of the group's members crawled into a dumpster to retrieve
them. The bandstand has to be moved into the tent. And it's only 10 a.m.
Under the big top near the library mall, students scurry about readying
food, products and giveaways. "Fossilman" (a.k.a. Hooser) flits through
the crowd, handing out pencils and drawing laughs. By day's end, about
800 people have wandered through. The students are exhausted. But happy.
1: The Millennium marketing team tells 13 executives that Fossil should
market its non-watch accessory lines more aggressively, and to add, possibly,
a full-scale advertising department rather than rely on the art department.
are asked: "If we were to spend $5 million on promotion, what would you
suggest?" Open more storefronts, make department store displays for non-watch
items slicker and more comprehensive, increase consumer advertising, maintain
consistency throughout advertising campaign -- recommendations backed
by data. The executives, impressed and interested, linger for detail.
the semester, is up. The group returns to its mostly twentysomething status
and fusses over a batch of Fossil watches encased in collectable tins
-- gifts from the executives. They head out together for lunch, loosening