Hopkins students pitch marketing campaign to Caribou Coffee Company

It’s not every day that a high school student has the full attention of decision makers at a major Midwest company, but that became the reality for three Hopkins High School students. A team of Hopkins marketing students had the opportunity to pitch their ideas to executives at Caribou Coffee Company.

“I think people always forget or lose sight of the end goal in education, which is ultimately to prepare people to be contributing members of society,” said Jesse Theirl, business education teacher at Hopkins High School. “This project clearly connects education to the end job, which provides a tangible lens for students to see their pathway to it.”

Hopkins High School students Gracie Kermisch, Sydney Wolpert, and Juliana Seewald created a marketing campaign for Caribou Coffee in their marketing class. Students were required to research and create a written plan, which was then presented to outside marketing professionals who played the role of the client.

Theirl said students are more engaged and level up their preparation when outside professionals play the role of the client.

“It not only enriches the environment, but also allows the general public to see what is going on in our classes,” Theirl said.

In this case, one of the marketing professionals was so impressed by the presentation that she used her business connections to connect the students with the real life executives at Caribou Coffee Company.

“I had never really expected our project to go anywhere as we just made it for the class, so it was really exciting to hear that we had the opportunity to present our ideas to Caribou,” said Sydney Wolpert, Hopkins High School senior.

The students brought a youth perspective to their marketing campaign project. While they did a lot of research about the company’s values and the brand, they also incorporated something that they would want to participate in themselves. Their campaign, called “Your Story, Our Cups,” incorporates a design competition giving customers a chance to design their own cup. With the help of social media channels, the campaign would increase brand awareness, customer engagement, and traffic to stores.

The marketing presentation exceeded the expectations of Erin Newkirk, Caribou’s head of Global Brand Strategy.

“I love how these business women not only pitched a creative idea, they thought through all of the important elements of a good marketing plan, including setting smart and measurable goals, strategies and tactics that ladder up to a true business objective,” she said.

In Hopkins, we believe in increasing job market connections for our scholars. Theirl asks his students to reach out to businesses in their marketing project so that they can develop networking skills and get real life experience.

“This skill [of networking] goes well beyond the content—it’s how the majority of people find their careers,” Theirl said.