One of my most favorite classes in MBA was Strategic Brand Management taught by Dr Oliva. Students in the class participated quite passionately and everyone had an opinion. Until the class, I thought brand to be a part of marketing, but after the class I believe, it is very important and crucial part of any organization or a person. It has changed the way I look at companies, people, and advertisements.
Let me not go into the details of Brand in this post, but just our team’s presentation. Each team picks a topic that is their favorite and analyzes through the brand lens. Prof emphasized and demonstrated that brand owners are not companies but the customers. It would be an interesting exercise for you to realize that : just write down your day’s activity and list how many brands you encounter everyday. Furthermore , it is likely that the kids would recall the brand names rather than the generic product names ( Colgate instead of tooth paste, a particular chocolate instead of a chocolate etc).
Initially the class seemed like a lot of work, but once we were into it, I enjoyed every moment of the course. Each case was selected carefully to clearly relate and enhance what was being covered in the class. I loved the passion of the teams who presented Brandscapes – which is a grand presentation encapsulating all aspects and relating that to a company. Passion of the Prof himself was of course was monumental, one day he came to class with a fake tattoo of Harley Davidson on his hand !
Personally I am not a strong owner of any brand as passionately as some of my classmates were. But it was certainly interesting to see how everyone related to something so deeply.
I had an awesome team to work with. Our team’s name was ‘Hakuna Matata’ (hat tip: yours truly) and by that name itself, we had set out to be fun team. It worked out exactly like that and I can’t imagine doing this presentation on any other brand than Nintendo whose motto is to “Deliver a smile for every person”, which if possible is my life’s goal too ! Ha, there I said it, I would like to be a joker. Well, we picked Nintendo because one of our team members* is crazy about Nintendo games and well, who hasn’t known Mario. It was probably my first game (I can’t remember which was it – Mario and Prince of Persia).
Working on Nintendo brandscape was very fun and I attribute that mostly to my teammates particularly Sean who had the creative ideas and Ryan for helping out my Mario character. MBA admissions liked the group picture I put on Facebook and asked if I could write a note that she can use for Monday Messages that are sent out to prospective students. I wrote and it is published on our MBA blog, the link : http://blogs.smeal.psu.edu/mba/2010/12/07/happy-birthday-nintendo/.
Since we were a big team (of 6), it was not efficient for everyone to do formal presentation. That also opened up an opportunity for me to dress up as Mario and make a guest appearance at the end of the presentation. We had written this interview for that part of presentation. We also bought different Mario costumes for all the team members and related merchandising including candies !
Dressing up as Mario was easy for the overall, but cap was a difficult find ! Ultimately at the last minute we managed to buy the red hat (thanks to Ryan) and designed the M by ourselves (thanks to awesome team mates who co-operated despite their own presentation preparation).
After dressing up as Mario, I didn’t want to give it away, and hence hid behind the door for most part of the presentation – although was curious to peek inside few times. Timing is everything for a good surprise and I did not want to spoil it.
When the time came, I walked in, and truly surprised the class. The applause on entering and someone’s shouting “he is so cute” totally made the whole effort worth, even before I started my part !
While my interviewer was talking, I could not stop grinning and making Mario poses of “thumbs up”.
Exclusive unedited original scripted interview: (obviously couldn’t get everything in, but whatever was done was good !).
1. How exactly do you feel being 25 years
A. I feel great, people love me. I have gone through lot of changes over time…more and less sophisticated at the same time..technological changes, generation changes – I have seen it all. I am probably the longest living gaming hero that I know of.
I have great company, brother Luigi..and we are keeping Mario world safe , my buddy Link is keeping Hirule safe. I have made great friends, no complaints !
2. What do you think about carrying not only your brand but also that of Nintendo – you are the face of Nintendo
a. Lot of pressure you see. But I think I have been able to carry them quite well on this broad shoulders of mine. I, not only do have to worry about saving princess all the time, I also have to think about people who love my parent company. In short , lot of pressure but I do it all with a “smile”, just like our company wants to bring about a smile to everyone’s face.
My games are so important to Nintendo…if I fail, Nintendo fails.. my sporting games are all high quality interesting games that Nintendo has created.
My personality also helps to create Nintendo’s brand image.
3. What do you think of consoles ?
a. As I said, I have seen it all..I have seen people grown with me and technology changing..I went to computers, to consoles, to movies etc But in particular, console brings a lot more options. On the newest consoles, I can play golf, tennis, race cars..being a video game character has become much more than saving the princess, I have more work now !
In every stage Nintendo has tried to be very innovative, we defined handheld game market.
My games have been pivotal for this transformation into consoles.
And as you can see from my evolution, I have changed a lot from pixel version to 3D interactive character that you see today.
I am also keeping fit by being on Wii – even I work out on Wii Fit.
4. What is about your games and your systems that keeps people coming back ?
Well, they are not too bloody and gory like other games. There is no shooting or anything like that. Although I have to beat up Bowser, it’s all in cartoonishly good fun that anyone can appreciate. Nintendo games are always cool, no matter what your age. At different ages, Nintendo is still cool for different reasons.
Different people in the house need not buy different games, generation of people have grown up with my games and they love me. You know, you like anything that you grow up with
question to audience: how many of you own one of 70 million Wiis and 135 million DS
5. What do you think of people tattooing your face on their bodies ?
a. (I show images) – are you talking about these ?
b. I feel great ! As I said , people just love me! But on a serious note, as uncle Ralphie says, branding is all about carving a real estate in customers’ minds and hearts. I think I have gone one step ahead, with people carving me on their bodies ! My creator knew from the beginning that saving princess will have far reaching effects and we see that now !
And, as it happens, the only time I got little nervous and forgot my dialog (probably because I was anxious about the reaction from Prof when I referred to him as Uncle Ralphie), is the only part of the act that was captured on the camera ! (Well, no complaints!). http://www.youtube.com/v/YtNcIubf-TM
We got high grades & Prof said “Very nice job on this – especially Ravi as “Mario””. It was an awesome fun presentation to end a great class with great teammates.
We had referenced various sources, some of the links are (particularly like the csr link, that is where the title is derived from)