By Isabelle Goh (BBA Year 3)
On 13 February, Winnie Tan (Year 4, NUS BBA Marketing Major), Teo Xin Yee (Year 4, NUS BBA Marketing Major) and Wong Hong Qiang (Year 4, NTU Bachelor of Accountancy) emerged champions of the prestigious P&G CEO Challenge APAC.
The team has a guaranteed spot at the Global Final, to compete with teams from North America, Latin America, Europe, China, and IMEA (India, Middle East, Africa). The team will be in Dubai from April 29 to May 2, in which this all expenses paid trip will take them a step closer to a visit the P&G headquarters in Cincinnati, and get a chance to meet CEO David Taylor.
The Case Challenge
During the competition, the Singapore team pit their skills against the brightest minds from Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and Australia – each team represented by the winners of their respective local rounds.
The nine teams had to develop an insight-led 3-year campaign strategy that reinterprets the Gillette Slogan “The best a man can get” in order to recruit new system users for the APAC market. This put the students to the test of deriving a creative marketing strategy, whilst critically assessing the effectiveness and feasibility of their recommendations.
“Einstein once said, ‘If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.’ I felt that this set us apart from the other teams. We spent a lot of time thinking about the big idea. There had to be an emotional appeal to it that felt natural and in line with the case,” said Xin Yee, reflecting on her experience.
The challenge was judged by executives who have been deeply involved in managing P&G’s shave care business, including Jooyoun Kim (Asia Shave Care Vice President), Rajeev Sathyesh (APAC Shave Care Associate Brand Director), and Jeongjoo Lee (Associate CMK Director, Asia Shave Care & Baby Care BFO).
The judges’ valuable opinions can be summarised into two salient points. First, “Keep it simple”. In light of the ten minute guideline allocated for students to present their campaign proposal, the students should have looked at time not as an actual constraint, but as an opportunity to tease out the “selling idea”, similar to an elevator pitch. Second, “Be a consumer.” They advised the students to put themselves in the customers’ shoes and consider why they would want to be a part of the brand and campaign.
During the awards ceremony, the judges affirmed the team’s efforts and commended their ability to leverage on “strong insight” to deliver a “tight” execution plan for their proposed campaign idea of strengthening a father and son’s bond through the benefits of gifting Gillette’s shavers. This essentially captures the brand value long championed since 1989, where in this situation the father is a “hero” in the relationship.
While the P&G CEO Challenge aims to develop the best young talent, another goal is to enable students to understand the best business practices of a brand from one of the top FMCG companies in the world. The two-day event immersed students in a highly experiential learning journey, involving seminar style lessons and visits to P&G’s private and partner businesses. The line-up of activities were arranged to introduce students to the processes involved in bringing a product to market, including innovation, consumer testing, insight mining, big idea generation, and retail.
An integral part of this event was the opportunity for the participants to interact with managers and executives from P&G to understand the company and its culture. In addition, the participants heard from JooYoun Kim (Vice President of Gillette and Venus), a 25-year veteran with the company. She humbly advised students, to “make many mistakes, as fast as possible” and “choose a place where you can learn, grow, and maximise your potential – how you grow will be dependent on your experience, first, boss, country and colleagues”. She then appealed to participants to consider, “what do you lose by not asking”, which highlighted the importance of being inquisitive, because there is “nothing to lose”, but only more to gain.
Still brimming with excitement following the two-day event, Wong Hong Qiang strongly encourages more students to take part in such competitions – “Please do participate. Such knowledge and experiences can only be derived through such opportunities to work on realistic business cases from multinational companies. Receiving instant feedback from experienced professionals, and getting to meet many smart people is invaluable. Do your best and know that you can gain so much from this. You have to experience it yourself to fully understand what I am trying to say”.
Isabelle Goh is a BBA Year 3 student who attended the CEO Challenge event in Singapore.