California State University, Northridge marketing students from the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics had a chance to apply the skills they learned in the classroom to a real-world campaign that partnered with Fox Sports University and Fox Deportes. The students of the Marketing 459 class, “Social Media Marketing,” led by associate professor Kristen Walker, competed against one another to create the best campaign for Fox Deportes’ social media promotion of the Union of European Football Associations Champions League final in June 2015.
This summer, the class’ winning team, self-titled “#SWOTTEAM,” was invited to the Fox Sports Westwood offices for a tour — and to present the overview of their campaign. “SWOT” refers to a situation analysis in a marketing plan and stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. While at Fox Sports, team members Sharon Sedgh, Cory Wagner, Andreas Nieto and Sara Sabzehzar met with Fox Deportes Executive Vice President and General Manager Vincent Cordero, as well as the digital, marketing and social media teams.
Walker described the project as “incredibly challenging for the class, since it involved a variety of social media channels and, in effect, two brands — Fox Deportes and the Champions League. All of the student teams in the class had great ideas, with the winning team utilizing unique social media strategies to reach and engage fans.”
#SWOTTEAM’s campaign focused on a user-generated content strategy to engage social media users, Fox Deportes viewers and fans of the professional soccer league.
“User-generated content is big, and with social media these days, everyone wants their content to go up and go viral,” said team member Sharon Sedgh ’15 (Marketing). “We came up with the idea of ‘UEFAnatico,’ where we created an image of the ultimate fan and had people send in pictures and videos of how they were the ultimate fan of their favorite [soccer] team.”
With that objective in mind, the team was able to incorporate user-generated content, which won over the Fox Deportes department heads, including Cordero.
“As the professor, my goals were to help the class learn how to work on a project with a client in a professional manner,” Walker said. “Helping them understand that researching the client and situation prior to developing campaign concepts is crucial.”
Walker was able to guide her students in their research and help them embrace their own creativity, all while maintaining focus on the client needs and relevance. She has worked with Fox Sports University and Fox Deportes for the past three years, harnessing this connection to provide real-world experience for her students.
“In my classes that work on client projects, I want students to be able to take a portfolio of their work with them to interviews,” she said. “Being able to bring a professional report — or in this case, marketing communications campaign — with them allows students to show potential employers the kind of work they can accomplish.
“Students are also better able to handle complex working environments, and they have dealt with [the] changing needs of a client or supervisor,” Walker said.
Sedgh called the project “the most influential education work” he completed during his time at CSUN.
“I learned the most about what I wanted to do in my career from this class, and I would highly recommend it to any student looking to get into the marketing and the social [media] world.”
Sedgh’s experience also led to a job at celebrity-gossip and entertainment news site TMZ as social media coordinator. “Employers are very impressed with the Fox name, and working with them definitely gave me an advantage over competitors,” he said.
“I am incredibly proud to be a CSUN alumna and an associate professor of such hard-working, creative students,” Walker said.