By Molly Loughman
Last January, Madison Umina ‘20 envisioned a marketing internship at some exciting location during the summer of 2020. Instead, she reported in from home, winning a pitch competition to Fortune 500 companies along the way.
Early in the year, Umina was accepted into a competitive intern placement program with the Advertising Education Foundation (AEF), thanks in part to a recommendation by Marketing Communication affiliated instructor Kimberly Lorusso. When the COVID-19 pandemic drastically reduced summer internship responsibilities, AEF responded with an intensive webinar program to help Umina and the 49 other finalists develop their career insights and contacts.
They also entered the AEF x Clorox Virtual Case Competition — a nationwide two-week marketing competition among more than 150 students — which promised the winning team interviews for internships and entry-level roles with Clorox. Umina said that through the program, AEF “wanted to give us an experience where we’d be learning, but also creating and building our portfolios.”
In the first week of the July competition, student teams devised pandemic-related solutions to improve sales of products for brands such as Clorox, Hidden Valley, Target, Fresh Step, and Walmart. Umina was grouped with students from Wellesley College and Boston and Fordham universities — the only four-person and only all-woman team in the competition. They pitched a wall-mounted automatic dispenser that sanitizes grocery cart handles, and were able to watch others present their zero-waste products to judges.
“It was really neat seeing what the other teams decided to do and all their thought processes,” says Umina.“We were all solving very different problems and all came up with unique solutions.”
Her team’s first-round idea was selected above five other proposals, advancing them into the second round, where they were given data to solve a company’s business problem. Umina’s team was assigned to determine a special line of Glad products for exclusive sale by the Kroger Company. They came up with the idea for “Glad Essentials,” which bundles all the various trash bag sizes into one package — based on how many bags a typical household uses in each month — and includes compostable bags, a product that Kroger does not yet carry. For added value, their idea maintained the price-per-unit of other package options, and retailed at a price lower than the typical box of 40 kitchen bags. “The bundle is also an opportunity for customers to not view bags for just ‘trash,” Umina says. “Glad can be resignified as bags for various needs; recycling, composting, or moving to a new home. We also came up with ideas for Glad Essential Holiday or Glad Essential Moving to market Glad products beyond typical uses.”
Once again, her team took first place out of five, according to a judges’ panel representing the Clorox Company and the Association of National Advertisers (AEF’s parent organization). “We heard a lot of helpful feedback from them, and had the opportunity to interact with professionals on a higher level, so that was a really cool experience,” says Umina. “It was the best group experience I ever had. It was really eye-opening to see the ambition of three other young women who were just as passionate as I was to find a solution for the problems we were given. And I do think I made real connections with them based on this experience.”
As competition winners, Umina and her teammates each interviewed with Clorox. Umina’s ANA experience has resulted in her hearing from interested companies. After graduating this December, Umina hopes to land a marketing communication job under a small agency or company that embraces women’s rights, social change, or advocacy.