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     Volume 2 Issue 84 | August 31, 2008|


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1st Inter Business School Marketing and Branding Competition BrandWitz 2008

Tawsif Saleheen

Anticipation is contagious. So is excitement. The audiences were led through a roller-coaster ride of both as they waited for the results of 1st Inter Business School Marketing and Branding Competition, BrandWitz 2008. Earlier that evening, the three finalists had dazzled the audience with unbridled wits and sheer ingenuity as they battled it out for the ultimate championship. In the end, the audiences were left awestruck by their performance, while the judges took their time to reach the final decision. Finally, as the tension reached its peak the judges re-entered the room with the result…

Organized by IBA Communication Club (IBACC) for the first time and sponsored by Unilever Bangladesh Ltd, BrandWitz 2008, received enthusiastic and positive response from all the reputed business schools of the country, both public and private sector, from the very beginning. As many as 24 teams from 15 different institutions from all across Bangladesh registered for the contest. Unique and unprecedented, BrandWitz aimed to bring all the future marketers of this country under one roof, and to unlock their hidden talent through the spirit of competition.

Mr. Rakesh Mohan, Chairman and managing Director of Unilever Bangladesh Ltd.

With such aspirations, the 1st Inter Business School Marketing and Branding Competition, BrandWitz 2008 began with a workshop on July 31, 2008. The workshop was held to familiarize the contestants with different marketing techniques and skills essential for the contest. Mr. Shama-E Zaheer, Mr. Mustaque Ahmed, Mr. KSM Minhaz, and Mr. Muneer Ahmed Khan aptly conducted the workshop respectively.

Mr. Shama-E Zaheer, a faculty at IBA, conducted his lecture on the various tools necessary for solving a case. Since the first two rounds of BrandWitz 2008 required the contestants to solve Marketing and Branding Case Studies, this section of the workshop was indeed quintessential for all the contestants. In fact as the workshop continued inside the IBA auditorium, the audience came to realize that all the segments of the contest were equally imperative.

Mr. Mustaque Ahmed, CEO of Net Value, conducted the workshop on Basic Marketing Strategies. Mr. KSM Minhaz, Product Group Manager at Unilever Bangladesh LTD., discussed Branding using IMC, and finally Mr. Muneer Ahmed Khan, Chairman and Creative Head at Unitrend Bangladesh, enlightened the contestants with different skills that are crucial for designing a Social Awareness Campaign. All in all, the workshop was fun filled and erudite. It was not only successful in preparing the contestants for the battle ahead, it also nurtured the future marketers with skills that are critical to survive in the growing corporate culture of Bangladesh in the years to come.

The first round of BrandWitz 2008 began at the IBA premises on August 1, Friday, 2008 with tight tension boiling among the audience and the contestants alike. The 24 participating teams were divided into six groups. What made the situation even more tense was the fact that only ONE team from each group would proceed to the second round! For the 1st round of BrandWitz 2008, the contestants were required to conduct a Marketing Case Study and present the case in front of a panel of judges. The catch was, upon receiving the case, the contestants had only one hour to analyze it, reach a conclusion and prepare a power point presentation before presenting in front of the judges.

Brig. Shahdat Hossain,
Project Director,
National Voter ID

As the battle raged on, each team put its heads together and worked as a unit to solve their respective cases. At the end of the given hour, presentations began simultaneously at six different venues. The level of creativity and sheer professionalism that all the teams displayed despite the one-hour preparation time impressed the judges and the audience. When it came down to the results, it turned out to be a very close contest. The auditorium erupted in applause as the winners from each group were announced. The six teams to qualify for the 2nd round of BrandWitz 2008 were team AIUB, Jahangir Nagar University, Chittagong University, Khulna University, and two teams from IBA.

The 2nd round of BrandWitz 2008 began the very next day amidst unbridled anticipation. A marketing case was given to each of the six qualifying teams at the end of the first round, and this time around they had 24 hours for preparation. The IBA auditorium was tightly packed with audience, as the contestants were about to present their cases. This time, the pressure was much more intense because only the top three teams would proceed to the grand finale of BrandWitz 2008. The stakes were high. So were the expectations.

The judging panel, this time around, was adorned with senior managers from the corporate world. The judges were Mr. Mustafizur Rahman Khan, Head of Marketing and Communication at HSBC Bangladesh, Mr. KSM Minhaz, Product Group Manager at Unilever Bangladesh Ltd, Mr. Rajeeb Bhattacharjee, the AGM of Grameen Phone, Mr. Zeeshan Kingshuk Huq, Head of Marketing, Warid Telecom, and Mr. Maruf Afzal Hossain, Senior Marketing Manager at Sony Ericsson Bangladesh.

With such exquisite backdrops, it was up to the contestants to deliver the performance of their lifetime. As the presentations of the 2nd round went on, the audience was once again impressed by the sheer ingenuity of each team as they presented their solutions. In the end, it was only the minute details that separated the finalists from the rest. The audience exploded in jubilation as IBA 3, AIUB, and Khulna University were announced as the winners of the second round of BrandWitz 2008.

From the very beginning, there had been speculations regarding the topic of the final round of BrandWitz. With the finalists selected, the anticipation multiplied ten folds. The Grand Finale of 1st Inter Business School Marketing Competition BrandWitz 2008 was scheduled on August 16, Friday, 2008, in the Grand Ball Room of Radisson Water Garden Hotel. The stage was set for the final showdown the grand event.

Dr. Ziaulhuq Mmaun, Director, IBA

With only seven days to go, the topic for the last round of BrandWitz 2008 was announced. This time the finalists had to prepare a Social Awareness Campaign for the following, “Branding Democracy: Defining and Promoting Fair Candidates for the Electorates in the upcoming Elections.”

With a topic that promised to thrill and with three finalists who had proven their capability in terms of creativity and professionalism, the final round of BrandWitz 2008 began on schedule at the Grand Ball Room of Radisson Water Garden Hotel. Professor SMA Faiz, the Vice Chancellor of University of Dhaka, was the Chief Guest while the Special Guests were Mr. Syed Manzur Elahi, former Advisor to the Care-taker Government of Bangladesh, and President, Dhaka University Alumni Association, and Mr. Rakesh Mohan, Chairman and Managing Director of Unilever Bangladesh Ltd. Dr. Ziaulhaq Mamun, Director and Professor, IBA presided over the ceremony which also was attended by Professor Syed Munir Khasru, Moderator of IBACC.

Professor SMA Faiz, VC, University of Dhaka

The judging panel was comprised of Mr. Mamun Rashid, Citi Country Officer and CEO of Citi NA Bangladesh, Mr. Naushad Chowdhury, Director of Brands, Unilever Bangladesh Ltd., and Mr. Mustaque Ahmed, CEO of Net Value. The judges and the audience listened with ardent intent as the finalists aptly defined the meaning of a fair candidate and how their campaign would empower the people to vote for the right candidate at the upcoming elections. Given the political backdrop of our country, the strategies suggested by the finalists were indeed practical and relevant.

The audience pondered as the judges took time with their decision. Finally, after taking considerable time, the judges reached their decision. “The runner up of 1st Inter Business School Marketing Competition, BrandWitz 2008 is Team AIUB,” Mr. Mamun Rashid announced on behalf of the judging panel as the audience exploded in applause. “The joint Champions of the contest are Institute of Business Administration (IBA) and Khulna University.”

Mr. Sayed Manzur Elahi, Former Advisor, Care-taker Government

The contest had been so close that in the end judges could not differentiate between the championships teams and the crown was shared by IBA and Khulna University. Shortly afterwards, the members of the three finalist teams were welcomed on the stage to receive their awards. The AIUB team consisted of Khan Md. Istiaq Hossain, Md. Jabed Rahman and Sadaf Ahmed. Khulna University team included Mehdad Mamur Mannan, Himadri Sheakre Hore, and Mohammad Ali. Finally, Razia Binte Iftekhar, Khandker Aumio Shahriar and Laila Farzana represented the IBA team. At the end of the competition, as the participants and the invited guests were led to the Championship Dinner everyone was filled with a renewed sense of optimism for the future of our country. In fact the audience was so impressed that there were requests to materialize the campaigns designed by the finalists for the upcoming election! The audience among others included faculty and students from the participating universities, diplomats, senior government officials, corporate managers, journalists, and parents of the contestants.

BrandWitz, which is a brainchild of Mr. Syed Munir Khasru, a Professor at IBA and the Moderator of IBA Communication Club (IBACC), has brought forward a new concept of branding to our country. Kudos to IBACC for successfully organizing such a grand event. Unilever Bangladesh Ltd has played a positive role by sponsoring the event. Branding has moved beyond the corridors of the classrooms and risen above the narrow confines of commercial products and services. Our greatest challenge now is to make Bangladesh a branded country in the league of nations. To do that, BrandWitz has indeed done what it set out to do as spelled out in the slogan of the competition, “Unlocking the Talent, Branding the Future.”

An Exclusive Interview with Syed Munir Khasru

The Architect of BrandWitz 2008

After the overwhelming success of 1st Inter Business School Marketing and Branding Competition BrandWitz 2008, many of us were pondering upon the genesis of such a ground-breaking concept. Here, Syed Munir Khasru, a Professor at IBA and the Moderator of the IBA Communication Club (IBACC) and the man behind Brandwitz speaks with Mahdin Mahboob from Star Campus about the different aspects of Brandwitz 2008.

Star Campus (SC): BrandWitz Competition was the first of its kind in Bangladesh. How did the concept of organizing such a competition evolve and what were its key objectives?
Syed Munir Khasru (SMK): In recent times there has been an increased awareness to promote Bangladesh as a brand to the outside world. Our country has had its share of negative stints involving rampant corruption, poor law and order situation, and confrontational politics. Yet, as a nation we have shown insurmountable promise. We have pioneered the micro-credit system, empowered women, fought back natural calamities with resiliency second to none and so on and so forth. We have not yet done a good job in positively portraying the country to the outside world. Therefore, if a positive image of Bangladesh has to be established, it has to come from the younger generation. To do so, it is essential to equip them with modern tools and techniques of branding.

From branding commercial products and services to branding Bangladesh, business school graduates are well positioned to do both. From this conviction came the urge to organize the 1st ever Inter Business School Marketing and Branding Competition BrandWitz. The main objective was to create a platform for the brightest of all business school students to interlock in the war of wits and thoughts as they solve business cases and develop social campaigns promoting causes and issues that affect us all. In Unilever Bangladesh we found a natural partner and sponsor as they have the richest portfolio of global brands, which are successfully marketed in Bangladesh. Mr. Naushad Karim Chowdhury, Director, Brands of Unilever Bangladesh joined hands with us when we first explained the concept to him and sought active support of Unilever.

SC: Now that the competition is over, how far do you think has the objectives been achieved or fulfilled?
SMK: Since, BrandWitz was held for the 1st time, we are quite satisfied with the outcome. Apart from solving business cases and branding problems within limited spans of time, the participants also had the opportunity to learn how to develop a branded social campaign. As you know, in the finals the participants had to prepare a Social Awareness Campaign for the following, “Branding Democracy: Defining and Promoting Fair Candidates for the Electorates in the upcoming Elections.”

The very fact that such a complex campaign was designed in less than a week and presented within 10 minutes, speak of the sheer passion and talent these youngsters have. All the participants of BrandWitz are first time voters who are expected to have significant impact on the outcome of the next elections. Hence, it was an opportune moment to hear their views and expectations from the next elections. It was quite inspiring to see the talented young unleash their patriotic feelings in a professional format whereby creativity had to be balanced by reality, ideas had to be supported by facts, and solutions had to be realistic to appeal to the panel of judges. The Grand Finale of BrandWitz mesmerized for hours the audiences which comprised a cross section of people students, academicians, government officials, diplomats, senior corporate managers, and journalists. Hence, we have every reason to believe that BrandWitz 2008 was more successful than anticipated.

SC: How big was BrandWitz 2008? Please tell us about the number of teams and institutions who have participated?
SMK: Leading Business Schools from both the private and the public sectors participated in BrandWitz. 24 teams from 15 different institutions initially participated in the contest. There were three contestants in each team.

Therefore, 72 of the most talented minds were involved in brand-building exercises. BrandWitz was indeed “The Branded Fight of The Branded Minds.”

SC: Have you found the overall performance of the different teams satisfactory enough?
SMK: Yes and of course there is always room for improvement. The knowledge, enthusiasm, intelligence, and analytical ability of the contestants were really impressive. Their ability to formulate creative solutions to complex problems and to make professional presentations of the same within tight time schedule demonstrated not only their efficiency but also the agility of mind. BrandWitz indeed achieved what the slogan of the competition had aspired for, “Unlocking the Talent, Branding the Future.” We have set the stage for unleashing the talent of the youth in pursuit of not only having a branded future for themselves but also for Bangladesh.

SC: What are the future plans of BrandWitz? When is the next competition due and how big will that be?
SMK: Given the overwhelming response from all the stakeholders, we intend to add more value and make the next BrandWitz even more interesting. Together with Unilever, we will be working closely to find ways to increase the depth and the breadth of the competition. Our aim is to organize the next BrandWitz by the next early summer and there might be major surprises which we will disclose in time.

As we began to leave after such an awe-inspiring session of interview, a question kept nabbing at us. In the end we could not help but ask.

SC: Sir. You are a Professor at IBA, an entrepreneur, involved in the media, write articles in newspapers, and a participant in policy dialogues and initiatives. Under such a busy schedule how do you find time to consummate your role as the Moderator of IBACC and design contests as brilliant as BrandWitz?
Mr. Syed Munir Khasru gave a modest smile and replied: God has given every individual an infinite ability to perform and excel. Mental stamina ultimately drives physical stamina. The magic is in each of us if we know how to see it. Of course, there are certain elements which always help, at least they have helped me prayers, certain discipline, time management, professionalism etc. In the end of the day, if your thoughts and acts have impacted or influenced others' life and made a positive difference it is worth the time and effort. What better opportunity to serve and have fun than to empower the younger generation who will hopefully spearhead the rise of Bangladesh in the global map. If things get too hectic there are always words of wise men to find peace and inspiration from, “What you are is God's gift to you. What you become is your gift to God.”


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