Vanilla Frosty, chocolate Frosty, pink Frosty … wait; what? Pink isn’t a flavor!
No, pink is not. But a team of Full-Time MBA program students at the Eli Broad College of Business hope that an occasional funky-colored Frosty, the signature dessert of the Wendy’s restaurant chain, will get customers to stop and consider the odd hues.
In turn, that creates the chance to link an odd shade — pink or otherwise — to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, the dining chain founder’s legacy charity.
“The actual solution may seem really simple, but simplicity is what makes it great,” said Travis Martin, an associate brand manager of Wendy’s and a 2018 alum of the Broad MBA program. “The Frosty is our most iconic product and if we want to truly make our connection to foster care adoption iconic, we need to give it an iconic mascot. The Frosty is a great way of doing that.”
The idea, created by the team of Alex Burridge, Sam Brobbey, Rana Haimout, Salik Aziz and Liliya Kalyenich, came during the latest installment of Extreme Green, an experiential case competition series, which concluded March 1.
During the two-year Broad MBA program, each student participates in a quartet of three-day Extreme Green competitions themed on confidence, problem-solving, innovation and entrepreneurship.
“Extreme Green is critical to both expanding our students’ education as well as giving them additional opportunities to work on live projects with companies and other clients. This set of experiences helps our students fully realize their MBA skill set,” said Wayne Hutchison, director of the MBA program and academic services.
For Wendy’s, led by President and CEO Todd Penegor (BA Accounting ‘87, MBA ’89), the Extreme Green project was “not a pretend thing at all” and will advance through Wendy’s for consideration, said Jacci Weber (MS Marketing Research ’12), manager of consumer insights at Wendy’s.
“The association between the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the brand Wendy’s has very low awareness among consumers,” Weber said. “We’d like to grow the cause and support the brand” by increasing the association between the two though solutions like the one devised by the Broad MBA students.
Opportunities like Extreme Green help differentiate Broad Spartans from their MBA peers at other schools, Martin said.
“Just the amount of time given to just learning how to think creatively is something I think a lot of programs talk about building into their courses and then don’t exactly do,” Martin said. “Especially in marketing, when you need to dive down and think of a new problem creatively, it can be hard to get out of your own way. Setting aside some time during the school year to get out of your own way, so to speak, and do this is really great.”
“That’s why coming back to this is so helpful for us,” Martin said. “We’ve been looking at the same problem through the same lens over and over and over again, so to be able to stop, get a bunch of people who don’t have the same lens and way of viewing it, and allowing them to think creatively through a problem in a way that maybe we’re too entrenched in to see that solution is really helpful.”
In return for helping corporations think differently regarding real-world problems, students get a taste of a real-world workplace where there are no instructors who already know the correct solution to guide you.
“When you’re in school there always seems like there’s a right answer and ultimately you get a grade. But when you come into the real business world, there usually are no right answers or grading rubrics that you’re compared against,” Weber said. “I think the students having experience in this kind of environment where they will be subjectively evaluated by us is very different than their experiences in the classroom and you can learn a lot from that.”