Gearing up for the Grant Dobson Case Competition

Students are brushing up on luxury clothing markets and polishing their pitches in preparation for the Grant Dobson Case Competition, which takes place on March 2. They will compete for industry attention, cash prizes and bragging rights.

According to Jackie Botterill, Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film (CPCF), the Grant Dobson Case Competition is the culmination of years of learning, writing and thinking demanded of students in Brock University business and communication degree programs.

“Students focus their creativity, discipline their ideas, exercise strategic thinking, apply research, media and marketing skills, and communicate persuasively with the goal of encouraging action in the marketplace,” she said.

And the opportunity to encourage action in the marketplace is very real. The annual event, presented in conjunction with the Terry O’Malley Lecture in Marketing and Advertising, has a long history of creating valuable industry relationships for students.

Past competitions have featured briefs for such well-known brands as Joe Fresh, Purina, Chinet, the Globe and Mail, and WestJet. In many of these competitions, the lead judge worked for the very brand being pitched.

This year’s competition is slightly different. In January, teams were challenged to develop a marketing campaign for the luxury brand Canada Goose. This year’s lead judge, Matthew Santoro, is a well-known YouTube personality, so the brief focuses on mobilizing social media to demonstrate the brand’s authenticity.

Ten teams submitted written proposals. Faculty members from CPCF and the Goodman School of Business reviewed the submissions and selected the top three finalist teams.

These finalists will pitch their campaigns to an esteemed panel of judges that includes

  • Ania Lindenbergs, Executive Director of Brand Marketing, University of Toronto;
  • Greg Plata, Team Lead, Sponsorship & Experiential Marketing, WestJet;
  • Matthew Santoro, YouTube Personality and Entertainer and speaker at the 2015 Terry O’Malley Lecture in Marketing and Advertising;
  • Peter Shier, President and Partner, Naked Creative Consultancy; and
  • Dianne Wright, Co-founder and Partner, Strategic Evolution, Chimpanzee.

“The case competition provides the opportunity for teams to present ideas in front of industry practitioners and receive constructive feedback,” explains Sharon Broderick, who teaches in CPCF and the Goodman School of Business, and created the competition in 2005.

Broderick designed the case competition after Terry O’Malley asked her to find ways to increase student involvement with the esteemed speakers visiting for the lecture series. In 2008, the competition was named after Grant Dobson, the executive director of external relations at Brock from 1988-2004 and a long-time friend of O’Malley’s who was instrumental in the development of both events.

The impact of the competition is evident in the number of judges who offer their time and expertise year after year, and the number of former competitors who happily volunteer to support the event long after they have graduated from Brock.

Savanna Schaus, a graduate of the Business Communication program, has participated in the day’s events since 2009. Now the Economic Development & Communications Coordinator for the Town of Hanover, Schaus calls the calibre of the work and creativity demonstrated each year “jaw-dropping,” and credits O’Malley with being her inspiration to stay committed.

“His passion is contagious,” she says. “That is why I continue to participate years after graduating and will continue for the life of the event.”

The competition is open to the public, but seating is limited. Following the competition, the Terry O’Malley Lecture in Marketing and Advertising takes place at 7:30 p.m. in the David S. Howes Theatre on campus. Tickets are free but required. To reserve your seat for either event, please contact

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