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College students flock to Blue for marketing competition

More than 250 college students took part in the Ontario Colleges Marketing Competition at Blue Mountain Village Conference Centre on Nov. 16 and 17

The top marketing and business college students from 14 of Ontario’s colleges met at Blue Mountain Resort this week to compete in an annual industry competition. 

“This is one of the most impactful learning labs during their time at post-secondary. It is definitely a highlight for many students, staff and alumni,” said Pavla Kazda, dean of business and management with Georgian College. 

Hosted by Georgian College, the Ontario Colleges Marketing Competition (OCMC) was held at Blue Mountain Village Conference Centre on Nov. 16 and 17. 

The annual event has been held for the past 40 years, rotating locations between the 14 different colleges. Seneca College hosted the competition in 2022, and St. Clare College will host the event in Windsor in 2024. 

The two-day learning lab brought approximately 400 people to the area, including 250 post-secondary students and more than 130 faculty staff and alumni. 

“To be selected, you have to be the best of the best,” said Alison Durtnall, event organizer and professor at Georgian College. “Each school has their own kind of selection process. Some schools conduct interviews, some rely on the faculty to recommend students.”

Over the course of the event, students face off in a quiz bowl and individual case competitions. 

“This is my second year here. I was a quizbowl student last year. So I'm really excited to be back and to see the differentiation between OCMC events,” said Maya Smith, advertising and marketing communications student at Georgian College.

The quiz bowl was held on Thursday evening and saw teams of four from 12 colleges compete. 

The quiz consists of industry-relevant information and questions from a textbook that was provided to the competitors in September. The student team from St. Cara College took first place in the event. 

For the competition phase of the event, a team of two students from each college took part in private competitions in 11 case categories. The case categories include:

  • Advanced marketing strategy
  • Direct marketing
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Integrated marketing communications
  • International marketing
  • Job interview
  • Marketing
  • Marketing research
  • Prospect pitching
  • Retail marketing
  • Sales presentation

For the contest, each student team was provided a case and given 30 minutes to prepare a solution. The students must then present their solution to a panel of judges for 15 minutes.

The presentation must include a PowerPoint presentation and the students must be prepared to answer questions from the judges.   

“As a case studies student this year, the pressure was definitely on,” said Smith.

For months leading up to the competition, each student team is coached by a judge or team of judges. 

“It's like going into work and it's our first taste of real experience. It's been a really cool and special experience,” said Garnet Rotenberg, Smith’s presentation partner and business marketing student at Georgian College. “Along with learning from our coaches, the networking and industry exposure we are getting at this event is so valuable.”

Each case presented to the student teams was sponsored by an industry company. The sponsors contribute to case content and sit as judges for the student’s presentation. 

“We worked with those companies to write the case so that it's a realistic challenge that that business would have but something suitable for the students to read in 30 minutes,” said Durtnall.

The competition aims to prepare students for real-world scenarios by challenging their creative problem-solving, industry knowledge and presentation skills.   

“This is the best learning lab in the business and management area that we offer on an annual basis. And, it really impacts the students and the industry in a positive way because our students graduate with the skills they need to be immediately effective in the workplace,” said Kazda.

According to faculty and alumni at the event, attending OCMC is a huge boost for the student’s resumes.  

“When these students go to a job interview, just saying they attended an OCMC event gives them an edge,” said Durtnall. “This event is highly recognized within the provincial industry as a meeting of the best and brightest.”