The highly anticipated Annual CIT Student Marketing Challenge took place on Tuesday, April 2 and was once again a tremendously successful occasion.

This annual event, in partnership with the Marketing Institute of Ireland Cork (MII Cork), helps to introduce next-generation marketeers to the marketing community and gives them the chance to showcase their innovative concepts and proposals. It is a compulsory capstone marketing module for 4th year Bachelor of Business (Honours) in Marketing students.

This year, students were tasked with developing competitive marketing communications proposals for Cork Airport, to support their newly launched campaign to increase passenger numbers by 8% year-on-year. In the first pitch phase of this 10-week challenge, which took place at Cork Airport, 25 teams (72 students) were whittled down to just four teams, who presented at last night’s final in CIT. These talented finalists took centre stage before their fellow classmates and attendees from the Cork marketing and business community, who were scouting out our future talent, as they wowed the judging panel of Niall MacCarthy, Managing Director Cork Airport, Kevin Cullinane, Head of Communications Cork Airport, Kathryn O’Dwyer, Digital Marketing Specialist Cork Airport and Ray Lougheed, Chairman MII Cork, with their innovative and creative pitches.

Dr Pio Fenton, Head of the Department of Marketing and International Business in CIT, and former Chair of MII Cork, commented on this fantastic event noting:

“Not only does the Student Marketing Challenge provide a platform for our students to demonstrate their ideas and concepts, but it gives them a chance to network with some of Cork’s most established and successful professionals in the marketing world. Trends in the marketing industry are ever-changing and it is fantastic to see how young people bring fresh and current ideas to the fore with the latest in technology and digital/social media. We were blown away by all the students who presented, not just the winning team. They all took a unique approach to the brief and brought their creative twist and learnings to the task.”

Cork Airport was amazed with each of the final four teams and hope to roll out elements of each presentation, with Niall MacCarthy, Managing Director of Cork Airport commenting:

“We were really inspired working with the students from CIT, who exceeded our expectations. The students came up with fresh, innovative ideas, and within each pitch there were excellent outputs. We will be selecting a number of ideas from all pitches and executing them over the next few months.”

While the judging panel and Cork Airport were highly impressed by the standard of concepts and presentations, there could only be one overall winner. By unanimous decision the winning team of Claire Smith and Joanne Hegener was announced. These two talented CIT marketing students were the grateful beneficiaries of a €2,500 bursary from Cork Airport and in a short few weeks another student from this annual challenge will be awarded the opportunity to complete a three-month paid internship with the award-winning Communications team at Cork Airport.

Originally speechless as their names were called out, challenge winners Claire Smith and Joanne Hegener later commented:

“We were so emotional as our names were announced. As we awaited the result, we didn’t want to get our hopes up too much. We were so proud of how we had done and really believed in the campaign we created, but at the end of the day, we knew that the other teams had smashed it too. We wanted to end our 4th year on a bang, so we really put our hearts and soul into this. Throughout this project we felt every emotion possible; happy, tired, excited and sometimes wanted to give up, but getting to the final made us feel nothing but motivated. To have been crowned winners tonight is one of the proudest moments of our lives.”

Ray Lougheed, Chair of the MII Cork also commented at this hotly contested event:

“Yet again we were blown away by the up and coming talent and skilled young professionals that were involved in the CIT Student Marketing Challenge. The MII Cork is the home of senior marketing professionals and the idea behind this challenge is to involve the next generation of our marketing community in Cork, and task them with creating original and exciting concepts to continue their learning and development in the ever-evolving world of marketing!”

For updates on upcoming MII Cork events, such as next week’s keynote taking place on Wednesday, April 10 at 6.00pm in The River Lee, entitled “Marketing Tourism in the ‘real’ Capital” with Mark Henry, Director of Central Marketing with Tourism Ireland and Seamus Heaney of Pure Cork, check out their Facebook and website.

Photography by Darragh Kane.