In late 1999, McIlhenny Company contacted the heads of the marketing departments of the five Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Louisiana and enlisted their help in coordinating a student competition to position TABASCO® brand products to the African-American consumer. Professors at Southern University New Orleans, Xavier University in New Orleans, Dillard University in New Orleans, Southern University in Baton Rouge and Grambling State University in Grambling each selected a team of their best students to participate.
The goals of the student competition were to find innovative ways to present information to African-American college students about TABASCO® brand Original Red Sauce and its Family of Flavors®, create acceptance, build loyalty and generate usage in eating and cooking activities. Even though a winner was declared, all teams received cash awards and high compliments.
Following the presentations, McIlhenny Company decided to test the student recommendations. These are just some of the concepts that have been implemented since the program was initiated:
As the program has evolved, students now prepare a comprehensive plan each semester to accomplish the goals set for positioning the TABASCO® brand to the student population. Each fall and spring semester, the students and their advisors meet at McIlhenny Company’s corporate office on Avery Island and present their recommendations to the executives of McIlhenny Company. The meeting also includes a tour of the manufacturing facility, a meeting with the company historian, a lunch in the Executive Dining Room and a presentation by the executives of the company on the annual domestic and international marketing efforts.
McIlhenny Company has been extremely pleased with the results of the program, and it will continue similar efforts in the future. In turn, the program has provided the students and their faculty advisors with the opportunity to explore and test the principles and theories of research, advertising, promotions and sports marketing in a field-tested, hands-on approach. It is the company’s expressed desire that these kinds of “real work” experiences and opportunities will contribute to the continued educational growth and development of the students at these universities.