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Students from Solent Business School worked with peers from universities across Europe to develop their professional network and real-world experience to a brief from Cunard

10th May 2021
Business and financeBusinessCreative enterpriseMarketing, communications and public relationsMarketing

International Marketing Week is a one-week opportunity to develop practical marketing experience on real-world briefs, explore other cultures and approaches, and develop international connections – and Solent is the only UK partner in a group of 11 universities from around Europe.

In previous years students have travelled to partners in Austria, Germany, Holland, Finland, Latvia, France, Spain and Belgium, working with partners such as BOLS, Mercedes and Vienna Zoo. But this year – as with so many other things – International Marketing Week transformed into a fully online experience.

“Despite all the challenges this year, I’m delighted that we were still able to offer this great week-long experience to students,” said Solent’s Joanne Hooker. “It’s a truly CV-enhancing opportunity for students across Europe to broaden their horizons, develop their soft skills and work on a truly engaging brief from the world's leading cruise company, Cunard.”

The brief, delivered by Bob Dixon, Cunard Director EMEA & Asia, was to create a themed event voyage for their new season in 2022. Teams of students mixed together from across the international universities were each given a budget a free rein to design the theme, events, target markets and destinations for their voyage – working together as an international team throughout the week, before pitching their ideas to a panel including Cunard senior management.

Cunard’s Bob Dixon said: “Every year I have been impressed how the students are able to build a team and deliver intelligent and creative output on a complex marketing brief. This is no small accomplishment when you consider they are doing this working to a tight timeline on unfamiliar subject matter together with people they have only just met, from a variety of countries and in many cases in a foreign language.  In most years this is an achievement, but in 2021 all the more so, with the need to work remotely with collaboration only possible via video conferencing.

“This year the bar was raised yet further with a tighter brief and evaluation along stricter marketing criteria.  Under the tutelage of the Solent University academic staff the teams were well supported and we witnessed some new and spectacular ideas being put forward.  It was compelling to witness bright young minds grapple with the brand nuances of a 180-year-old shipping line yet dare to push the boundaries of what is possible with bold concepts and convincing arguments.”

At the final pitch, teams’ ideas covered everything from The Great British Bake-Off at sea, a Roaring Twenties theme, and even e-sports cruises. Emily Ruff, Solent student, said of her team’s approach: “We started the week designing and pitching a cruise ship of the future. For this, my group created an “instagrammable” ship with photography rooms, high-end technology and most importantly, as environmentally friendly as possible using solar panels and wind turbines.

“The second task was to pitch a cruise idea to the panel; changing our vision because of the style of the boat being used, the team decided on a theatre week showing several shows onboard whilst incorporating the food and entertainment to the theme of that day’s film.

“This week provided opportunity to work with a known brand online with international students. This improved my public speaking and pitching skills, together with the ability to work with new people in a time-conscious task and answer technical questions under pressure.”

Anne van Langendonck, a visiting lecturer from University Colleges Leuven-Limburg, Belgium, one of the international universities taking part in this year’s challenge, said: “What I especially liked about the IMW in Southampton was not only the challenging assignment but the way the students were able to find the connection with each other and worked together even if everything was online. The atmosphere in the working groups was positive and the groups were productive and really profited from the international context.”

Charles Hendy, Solent marketing with sport student, said: ““I’d not had as much of a collaborative, time constrained task to do before, within the context of online learning. So it was working under pressure, but learning to socialise and collaborate over the online platforms. It was fun just chatting with the other members in my team like you would with anyone, but also talking about differences in our countries.”

Lola Geeurickx, a student from EPHEC Institute in Belgium who took part in this year’s international marketing week, said: “This week has been a real challenge for me, and I always love a good challenge. I have managed to develop my creativity but also my communication skills; time management was also of the essence, but I think we successfully managed, thanks to some amazing teammates. I would do it again in a heartbeat!”

Like the sound of International Marketing Week? Visit our business and marketing page for more information on our courses