Students from eight top business schools tackle sponsor challenge for chance at $10,000

Student teams from some of the nation's top business schools will vie for a $10,000 first-place cash prize during the Elite Eight Brand Management Case Competition at the Carlson School of Management, November 3 - 5.

Now in its 11th year, Elite Eight consists of eight teams of five students who are presented with a strategic brand management challenge currently faced by one of the competition's sponsors. The teams are given 30 hours to prepare a structured case analysis and accompanying recommendations. Teams present their findings to a panel of expert judges from the sponsor companies who then critically assess the students' brand management, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. Over the years, many of the teams' recommendations have been incorporated by the case sponsors.

"I will never forget the experience of competing in the Elite Eight," says Carina Sarbaugh, a member of the Carlson School's 2010 second-place team. "Not only was it amazing to feel the sense of accomplishment that comes from banding together to tackle a tough business problem, but it was truly inspirational to do so in the company of seven other top branding MBA programs."

The Elite Eight Brand Management Case Competition has become a premier event for brand management students across the country. In addition to the Carlson School, the other schools participating in this year's Elite Eight are:

  • Kelley School of Business (Indiana University, Bloomington)
  • Haas School of Business (University of California, Berkeley)
  • Fuqua School of Business (Duke University)
  • Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University)
  • Stephen M. Ross School of Business (University of Michigan)
  • The Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Anderson School of Management (University of California, Los Angeles)

"The Elite Eight was one of the most exciting experiences I had during my MBA career," says Mark Skeba, a member of the Kellogg School's 2008 and 2009 first-place teams. "The competition was fun, intense, and competitive. The Carlson School really puts on an exceptional weekend."

Past case studies and sponsor companies have included: Positioning an industrial line of products in a business-to- business setting (Ecolab); Growing the Archer Farms Brand Within a Highly Competitive Bottled Water Market (Target); and What is the Implication of Customer Centricity for the Best Buy Brand? (Best Buy).

As in past years, this year's sponsor companies and case topic will remain concealed until they are presented to the teams at the start of the competition. The public is welcome to watch the final team presentations on Saturday, November 5, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the 3M Auditorium.

In addition to the $10,000 first-place prize; $5,000 will be awarded for second-place; and $3,000 for third-place.