Pitch Perfect

Villanova Business student teams develop creative marketing solutions for Fortune 500 companies

By Claire Curry

Illustration of a pencil, eraser, apple and three common grocery store items
Illustration: Mikey Burton

When Campbell Soup Co. asked Villanova Business majors to develop a new product for its Prego line, they came up with the idea for a sauce featuring plant-based proteins. Students also developed creative solutions to promote Pepcid products, increase brand awareness of Vanguard’s financial products among Gen Zers, and strengthen Air Wick’s competitive position. These are just a few of the real-world Fortune 500 projects Villanova Business students are contributing to in Competitive Effectiveness, a six-credit Marketing and Management course requirement for all Business majors. 

A key experience in VSB, the aim of the course is twofold: to provide students with opportunities to hone their marketing skills and to learn about management firsthand by collaborating on projects in teams. Exercising these skills is “great practice for the students’ future professional lives,” explains Beth Vallen, PhD, professor of Marketing and Business Law, who is among the Marketing and Management faculty who co-teach the course. “When you go out and get a job, you’re not doing simply marketing or simply accounting. You need that higher-level integrated business knowledge.”

Students meet several times with business executives who articulate their goals and expectations. Then, they create a full marketing strategy, including competitive analysis, budget and deliverables, all while personally developing their internal management strategy. At the end of the semester, they deliver presentations to their clients and receive valuable feedback.

“Business is a team sport,” says Ward Utter, MBA, professor of practice and associate chair of Management and Operations, who also teaches the course. He most values how the course enables students to experience diversity of thought, gain new insights about their management styles and learn to delegate tasks while overcoming conflict.

Last spring, Lily Renga ’25 VSB, a junior Marketing major, and her team worked with Reckitt to refresh its popular Air Wick air freshener brand. The students conducted research using a survey on the software platform Qualtrics, and developed a creative brief and a storyboard for an advertisement that would communicate key selling points to consumers. They also used the app TeamHelper to review their teammates’ performance and hold them accountable.

“I learned the value of research in marketing and the importance of incorporating each individual’s unique talents on the team,” says Lily, who plans to pursue a career in brand management or advertising for food consumer packaged goods.


In addition to working with large corporations, students also complete projects for smaller local businesses. One example is Bungee Oblečení, a Philadelphia-based brand of high-end athletic footwear and apparel. CEO Darrell Alston, who launched the company based on sketches he created while incarcerated, shared his journey with the students. The students helped launch his new athletic clothing line and “also learned lessons about resilience and grit,” according to Rishtee Batra, PhD, associate chair and associate teaching professor of Marketing and Business Law, who also teaches the course.


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