Shopper Marketing - August 2017 - 22
studio located on the college campus serves
as Cross Stitch Creative's home.
"We have it running 365 days a year. We
work with these students in the spring and fall
but bring them into Mars in the summer so
we have that continuity of an agency within
an agency," Rivenburgh says. "The students
are very much integrated and involved." They
are being paid by the agency and earn college credit upon completion.
A core premise for the program on the outset centered around growth, he says. And
since the program's inauguration in 2016, the
company, its individuals and the community
have experienced that. "We're proud to give
back to the community, and also excited that
we can identify some of the best-in-class talent
to bring into the organization," Rivenburgh
says. Being able to leverage the perspectives
of next-gen Millennials is highly beneficial to
the agency as well. "It's a whole new dynamic
that we can apply to our product."
Tom Drennen, vice president and creative
director at Mars, says the agency designed
the curriculum around marketing to shoppers. "It gets them in this head space because
nobody is being taught this right now," he
says. The semester starts with a 101 on what
marketing to shoppers is about and what
that affects, and concentrates on driving conversion versus just awareness. "We're giving
them this rich experience about the whole
shopper journey," he says.
Education leads and project leads work
with the students throughout the semester.
Drennen says assigning some individuals
y SHOPPER MARKETING AUGUST 2017
from the agency to help with projects and
others to lead the learning and development
of the students is the biggest fundamental
change since the program's inception. Together, they're opening the students' eyes to
the world of shopper marketing.
"Many of the students didn't realize that
this was a career choice, let alone that it's happening in their daily lives," he says. "We don't
do fast turns for clients or real execution kind
of work where everything has to be perfect
because these are students and we can't rely
on that. They give us great thinking, though,
and we really mine it." He says the agency
has seen success with some of the longerterm projects, and has also utilized studentled platform ideas, presented to clients by the
As the program expands, the agency's hope
is to see its clients getting more involved from
the beginning and investing in the students
to continue to cultivate talent for the industry. "As we build our own capabilities, we see
this evolving into more hardwiring with key
clients because of what the students offer,"
says Rivenburgh. "These students will have a
profound influence on how our agency thinks
from a cross-departmental perspective, which
in turn will allow us to deliver increasingly authentic and fresh ideas to our clients."
Suzanna Bierwirth, Mars' chief creative officer, says many of the students come in with
archaic ideas about advertising. The program
helps them see shopper marketing in a new
light. "It's exciting to see them opening their