AMA Team Takes Third in International Case Competition

AMA Cal Poly Pomona Club Logo


A historic run to the finals of an international collegiate case competition has ended in a third-place finish for a group of Marketing Management students from Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Business Administration.

Members from the CBA’s American Marketing Association traveled to New Orleans in early April as first-time finalists in the organization’s collegiate case study competition. Team’s entered proposals outlining how Mary Kay Cosmetics can reach a younger audience. The top submissions were presented to judges including the company’s chief marketing officer.

“From the second we began our presentation, I knew this was going to be our best run yet,” AMA’s director of community services Jason Martinez said. “The presentation flowed smoother than any rehearsal and it was chilling to see the judges’ heads nod in agreement as we were making our points on the stage.”

To qualify as a finalist, students spent months researching the Mary Kay product line while shaping its strategy to appeal to Millennials. Advisors Professor Gregg Arends and Professor Michael Assumma mentored the team during training and accompanied the group to Louisiana.

AMA holds its Collegiate Case Competition annually, with perennial powerhouses like 2018-winners from Wharton School of the University Pennsylvania offering proposals for a new company every year. Because many of the suggested strategies go into implementation, details about the first proposal in CPP history to receive a finalist bid are scarce.

“The case is technically involving proprietary information, so this has to be somewhat vague,” Arends said. “The proposal included a powerful umbrella theme that encompassed elements of both inner and out beauty tied with entrepreneurship, community service, college outreach and fun."

Although the brunt of preparation was directed toward Mary Kay, the CBA chapter of AMA had 10 members in New Orleans representing the college in various other competitions. Cal Poly Pomona was awarded first in Best Use of Conference Theme and received distinction as a Top 25 AMA Collegiate Chapter.

Briana Davis is the director of communications for AMA and one of five case competition presenters. The graduating Marketing Management student described the competition as an eye-opener to the world of marketing. She felt tested and pushed beyond her comfort zone at times but credits it for part of her success as a team member.

“As an individual, I’ve grown more comfortable and confident in my skills as a marketer,” Davis said. “I’ve learned the value in having a team and I appreciate the opportunity to flex my marketing muscles to this degree while still being a student.”

Teammate Maria de Los Angeles is AMA’s fundraiser chair and will also be graduating in spring. She reflected on long nights with team and advisors, an entire spring break in a campus computer lab and the support she got from her children necessary to fully commit to the competition.

“We have all come out better people from [the competition],” de Los Angeles said. “I learned how to work collaboratively and to take criticism constructively.”

Cal Poly Pomona is founded on the philosophy of applied theory. While the team is accustomed to using proven methods from books to solve real-world problems and sharing its findings, presenting to executives instead of classmates introduced a new dynamic.

“I’m still amazed by our group and the progress we made during the process,” Davis said. “When I transition to my career, I will have greater conviction in voicing my ideas than if I wasn’t in this AMA Case Competition class and not a part of CPP AMA history.”