As a counter to our previous post about the advantage of a Master’s in Marketing degree (versus a Marketing MBA), we have the “new normal-ish” argument that students don’t really need a graduate degree at all to succeed in the future world of Marketing.
The case is usually presented via a series of inane anecdotes, with no better example than this article from The Wall Street Journal, from April of this year.
In a nutshell, the article presents – in a positive light, mind you – the indentured servitude in which some companies place undergraduate students to conduct the lowest form of marketing – guerilla marketing. The students are euphemistically labeled “brand ambassadors.”
They are not technically employees. Nor are they technically paid. This is a form of outsourcing that would make even Mitt Romney blush.
Here are some excerpts:
“Students are slipping into lecture halls to write brand names and company URLs on professors' white boards…to plug the businesses of entrepreneurs in New York City and Silicon Valley.”
“Many of the start-ups give students titles like ‘Campus CEO’ or ‘director of social media.’ ”
“Sometimes the students identify themselves as company ambassadors; sometimes not.”
“Students earn neither cash nor college credit. Instead, ambassadors say they garner a different type of currency: résumé fodder.”
The companies featured in this story are Rent the Runway, foursquare, and Stylitics [sic]. Their student “ambassadors” write blogs, take and upload lots and lots of pictures, and endlessly harass their closest friends (and likely soon-to-be ex-friends). For free.
None of this effort involves any fundamental learnings of marketing, such as segmentation, positioning, and measurement.
So where’s the résumé fodder? Hello, Faddah?
On top of it all, Stylitics was mentioned in the article as planning “to roll out an ambassador program for high-school students this spring.” I think law enforcement’s term for this is “trafficking.”
How do the students benefit, if they are not paid?
Company managers “help ambassadors spruce up their resumes, write letters of recommendation for them and impart job advice.”
The most important job advice “imparted” is no doubt this: “Go out and find ten new brand ambassadors.”