Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) and the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin have embarked on a novel program to grow one of the company's iconic brands.
DPS has tapped a pair of the university's MBA students to serve as brand consultants for Yoo-hoo and bring a fresh, innovative approach to marketing the beloved chocolate drink. The team will develop a strategic growth plan for the brand and present it to DPS in May, with the potential for implementation in the fall.
The students and DPS are the first participants in the McCombs Brand Experience, an experiential learning initiative launched this year by the Center for Customer Insight and Marketing Solutions (CCIMS) at McCombs.
To make the experience as true-to-life as possible, the center created MBA Brands, a limited liability company, or LLC. DPS will use the student team through the company on a consultant basis. "The LLC structure allows for much more of a real-life experience. It's a breakthrough in marketing education," said Lamar Johnson, CCIMS director.
"This pilot will eventually lead to opportunities for many other students to participate in the future, for DPS and other companies," Johnson added. "Cream-of-the-crop students will receive experiential training and a great opportunity, and the program will strengthen relationships between McCombs and DPS. The project brings great value to both parties DPS will get excellent marketing strategy and planning and a great look at McCombs' best and brightest."
Jim Trebilcock, executive vice president of marketing for DPS, said the company designated Yoo-hoo for this project because of the brand's broad and passionate fan base.
"We are excited to be working with the McCombs School of Business and look forward to the creativity and strategic thinking they will bring to the Yoo-hoo brand," said Trebilcock. "This innovative brand management program will not only provide a unique learning experience for the students, but will also provide DPS with a novel way to tap the growth potential of smaller, regional and niche brands in our portfolio."
Yoo-hoo is one of the leading chocolate drinks in the United States. It was created during the 1920s by Natale Olivieri, who discovered a way to produce a dairy-based chocolate beverage that would not spoil on the shelf. Yoo-hoo enjoyed explosive growth in the 1950s and 1960s, thanks in part to an advertising campaign featuring New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra, who popularized the tagline, "It's Me-hee for Yoo-hoo."
The brand went through several ownership changes leading up to its 2002 acquisition by Cadbury Schweppes, which spun off its entire North American beverage business into Dr Pepper Snapple Group in 2008.
The Yoo-hoo student team will experience a hands-on approach to managing a consumer packaged goods brand. To develop a financially sound growth plan, the students will need to analyze existing data, identify data needs and also learn to work with less than 100 percent of the desired data. They'll learn to respond to the real-time market and how to deal with people issues and constraints.
If all goes as planned, a new team of McCombs MBA students from the class of 2014 will take over Yoo-hoo or another DPS brand in January 2013, and the program will be extended to more students and companies.