University of Pittsburgh

Katz Students Make Their Mark on BNY Mellon’s Hamilton-Themed Brand Campaign

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Katz MBA and MS students impressed marketing professionals from BNY Mellon during the inaugural BNY Mellon Brand Marketing Case Competition, co-sponsored by BNY Mellon, the Katz Center for Branding, and the Katz Marketing Club. Katz MBA and MS students impressed marketing professionals from BNY Mellon during the inaugural BNY Mellon Brand Marketing Case Competition, co-sponsored by BNY Mellon, the Katz Center for Branding, and the Katz Marketing Club.

BNY Mellon, a global investments company that helps clients to manage and service their financial assets throughout the investment lifecycle, has historically been perceived as a safe, reliable, and trusted organization.

These are positive attributes, but do not tell the full story about BNY Mellon’s capabilities.

“We are focused on expanding perceptions to also be known as insightful, innovative, solutions oriented, and an industry leader,” says Jan Bamford (MBA ’94), director of digital marketing at BNY Mellon.

In 2016, BNY Mellon launched “Invested in Our Legacy,” a global brand campaign designed to capitalize on the unique historical legacy of the company. The Bank of New York was originally founded by Alexander Hamilton, a founding father best known for establishing the country’s federal financial system — and in the spotlight recently thanks to the smash Broadway hit musical bearing his name. 

“The campaign’s objective was to build awareness that Hamilton founded BNY Mellon, showcase our amazing history of firsts, highlight how we are innovating today, and build company pride,” says Anneka Benn, BNY Mellon Director of Brand. “We were careful not to dwell on our past, but to showcase how Hamilton’s spirit drives us to look forward and maintain our status as an industry leader.”

During the competition, the teams were asked to create a campaign strategy and execution tactics to evolve the “Invested in Our Legacy” campaign. In doing so, the students were challenged to connect with a diverse community, ensure that Alexander Hamilton’s relevance is understood globally, and leverage Alexander Hamilton to build employee pride. 

“In developing our recommendations, we started with a long brainstorming session and then continued to work through our ideas, refining them into an overall theme that we wanted to build our suggestions around,” says Corbin Powlus, a Katz MBA candidate and the captain of the winning team. “On a more tactical level, we ensured that our suggestions contained messaging that would appeal to a range of consumers.” 

Powlus says that in order to develop these messages, the team kept in mind the values that would interest BNY Mellon’s current clientele as well as potential clients.

“This team stood out for a few reasons,” Bamford says. “The group’s presentation was incredibly robust, even including a competitive analysis of BNY Mellon’s position in the current landscape. The team presented a clearly defined strategy and offered great ideas to evolve the current campaign.”

Powlus and his teammates, Bhanu Narne , Paige Creo, and Payal Mathur, earned first place in the competition and a prize of $1,500. (Prizes were donated by BNY Mellon and supplemented by Center for Branding.)

The Katz team of Julie Cantola-Kirsch, Shohreh Behrouzi, Andriy Hetman, and Robert Innis earned second place and $1,000. The students Kate Uglova, Huaxia Chen, Chintan Patel, and Wenze Wang earned third place and $500. 

Katz MBA student Nicole Sloan, president of the Katz Marketing Club, helped to organize the competition.

“The competition was a great success. We had six teams of MBA and MS students compete, and all of them had great ideas and presentations. It was definitely a tightly contested competition,” she says. 

The competition was the result of the continued partnership between Katz and BNY Mellon.

“I want to say, ‘thank you’ to BNY Mellon for the opportunity to work on an interesting problem that they are facing,” Powlus says. “My team and I had a lot of fun working together and we really brought together our different skills to produce a quality end-product we were very proud of.”

"The BNY Mellon Case competition is one example of how the Center for Branding in conjunction with the student-led Marketing Club is committed to strengthening links with industry, and to provide multiple opportunities for Katz/CBA students to sharpen their branding and digital marketing expertise,: says Vanitha Swaminathan, Thomas Marshall Professor of Marketing and Director of the Center for Branding.

To learn more about case competitions at Katz, watch this short video.