Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business

McLaren brings cross-disciplinary brand campaign challenge to the Erwin Center


Clemson University’s Erwin Center for Brand Communications, part of the College of Business, brings business-world reality into the classroom by providing students with opportunities to solve real-world business challenges.

Students take on McLaren Automotive brand challenge
Erwin Center students tackled a brand challenge presented by McLaren.

Teams of students across a broad spectrum of educational disciplines were challenged last semester with developing a brand campaign for McLaren Automotive, one of the world’s most elite brands of high-performance sports cars. The students were tasked with creating a strategic campaign aimed to emphasize the lifestyle aspect of the brand to attract new customers and put people behind the wheel of the McLaren Sports Series line up.

“Four teams were comprised of students with very diverse backgrounds,” said Katie Hildebrand, executive director of the Erwin Center. “Bringing students from various majors is key to our non-traditional approach to experiential learning. This collaboration of ideas creates outside-the-box thinking and great learning opportunities beyond each student’s chosen discipline.”

The team that created the winning campaign was led by Claire Harvin, a senior communication major. She was joined by Bryce Winkler, a junior packaging science major; Connor McCormick, senior, chemical engineer; and Reilley Baugh, a junior marketing major.

“Our varied backgrounds turned out to be one of the team’s strengths. Because we each looked at the challenge from different points of view, as a team we came up with different ideas on how to best attract McLaren’s desired consumer,” Claire said. “The experience of working with a team of people who aren’t all like-minded is something we will face in our future careers.”

The team was given an opportunity to attend the Challenger Brands Summit in New York, a marketing symposium hosted by advertising trade publications Adweek and Brandweek.

This amazing competition was brought to Clemson by Andy Thomas, a 1990 mechanical engineering graduate and Erwin Center board member. Thomas is McLaren’s North American Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the United Kingdom-based brand. He and his New York City-based team worked closely with the Erwin Center on the challenge students were presented. Thomas said he was impressed with the efforts of all 4 teams.

“It was great to see these students passionate, motivated and working together to find a solution for McLaren’s evolving marketing strategy. As an alum, I am proud to be a graduate of Clemson and thrilled to bring this type of project to students,” Thomas said. “The Erwin Center’s mission is to enable students to learn and participate using various areas of disciplines will prepare students for the future.”

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