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Cultural immersion through marketing

In the marketing world, it’s not enough to know the product you’re pitching. You also have to familiarize yourself with the target audience.

A group of Northeastern students got some in-depth experience with this lesson this summer during a marketing-focused Dialogue of Civilizations program in India, where they are developing two marketing campaign proposals for a Mumbai advertising agency.

Cory Bolotsky, DMSB’15, one of the students on the Dialogue, noted that the group’s work proved to be both a challenging and thrilling experience in marketing.

“It really was ‘Welcome to India. You now have a week and a half to absorb the culture and present a real-life solution and hope that what you propose has some legs,’” Bolotsky explained.

Through the Dialogue of Civilizations—which is one of Northeastern’s global experiential learning programs—students spend several weeks in cities across the globe, where they immerse themselves in the local culture and connect with their peers in different national, cultural, political, and social environments. Through these experiences, Northeastern students acquire valuable skills and increased cultural awareness that they bring back to the classroom and to their other experiential learning opportunities.

The focus of this Dialogue, held from July 7 to Aug. 13, was to take an in-depth look at India from both cultural and business perspectives. Not only did students learn about Indian history and culture, but they also met with business leaders and learned about the Asian market.

“We’ve done a mixture of cultural and academic learning,” said Ashley Frizzell, DMSB’17. “We’ve had a few lectures on marketing, social media, and distribution in India, as well as how companies can take their operations global.”

The group spent the first two weeks in Mumbai, where the students worked on two projects for Rickshaw Creative, a local advertising agency. Some of the students created a marketing campaign for a new Indian soccer team, while others developed a campaign for an adventure travel experience.

This particular Dialogue program partnered with Rickshaw Creative last summer, and continued that successful relationship this summer because the agency provides valued, candid feedback to the students, noted Duane Lefevre, a marketing faculty member in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business who leads the Dialogue.

Lefevre added that this global opportunity allows the students to see in action some of the lessons from their marketing and international business courses.

“What I love about the experience is that in Boston we can talk to the students about distribution complexities in India and Asia, but when we are actually traveling on rickety roads with little infrastructure, we truly understand their challenges,” Lefevre said.