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updated: 3/14/2014 4:55 PM

Neuqua students pitch marketing ideas for T-shirt retailer

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  • Neuqua Valley High School students Jamie Smith, Aaron Lauth, Matt Groenthal and Tom Brown present their marketing plan for custom T-shirt retailer Big Frog during a marketing competition Friday at the school in Naperville. The students impressed Big Frog's Naperville owners and the company's CEO, winning the contest and a $1,000 prize.

       Neuqua Valley High School students Jamie Smith, Aaron Lauth, Matt Groenthal and Tom Brown present their marketing plan for custom T-shirt retailer Big Frog during a marketing competition Friday at the school in Naperville. The students impressed Big Frog's Naperville owners and the company's CEO, winning the contest and a $1,000 prize.
    Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

  • Leeward Bean, CEO of Florida-based custom T-shirt company Big Frog, discusses the beginnings of his business Friday with Neuqua Valley High School students about to participate in a marketing competition for Big Frog franchises in Naperville and across the country.

       Leeward Bean, CEO of Florida-based custom T-shirt company Big Frog, discusses the beginnings of his business Friday with Neuqua Valley High School students about to participate in a marketing competition for Big Frog franchises in Naperville and across the country.
    Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

 
 

Don't be surprised if "#BigFrog50" shows up on social media and helps earn discounts at a Naperville custom T-shirt retailer.

The slogan was one of several ideas Neuqua Valley High School students shared with the Naperville franchise owners and the CEO of Florida-based custom T-shirt company Big Frog during a marketing competition Friday at the school.

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"It's real-life experience for them to be able to put what they learn in class to use," business teacher Jim Moreau said about the marketing challenge.

The "#BigFrog50" campaign was the element that set team Lily Pads apart from five other teams vying for a $1,000 prize in the competition to create the best plan to help Big Frog boost its sales by 20 percent in June and July.

"It was very economical and it brought people into the store," said Scott Parrill, who owns the Naperville Big Frog location at 2863 W. 95th St., suite 107, with his wife, Marcia.

Team Lily Pads members presented the "#BigFrog50" idea as part of a social media element of their marketing plan. If the Naperville store chooses to implement the campaign, it will ask customers to take a photograph with a customized shirt they bought at the store, post it to a social media site such as Twitter or Instagram and add "#BigFrog50."

Showing the tweet or post in the store will earn customers 50 percent off their next T-shirt purchase. And using a hashtag, created by typing a pound sign before a word or combination of words, makes the made-up marketing term searchable on certain social sites, so the Parrills could see how many people are talking online about their services.

"I really love the '#BigFrog50.' I think that's got some legs," said Leeward Bean, Big Frog CEO and one of the company's founders, pausing for a few chuckles at his pun. "That's why we like the frog, right?"

Neuqua student and winning team member Jamie Smith said the idea developed this week after business teacher Beth Knuth encouraged students to be more specific with their social media suggestions for Big Frog stores than they were during a preliminary round of presentations on Monday.

The "#BigFrog50" slogan was part of a marketing plan Jamie and fellow team members Tom Brown, Aaron Lauth and Matt Gronenthal presented for not just the Naperville Big Frog location, but all 62 franchises across the country. They said the company's target markets for increased sales this summer should include families, church groups, young to middle-aged music lovers and people planning golf outings.

The marketing competition was a way for Big Frog to partner with the school and seek marketing advice from young minds all at once, Parrill said. It was at least the third such partnership this year between students taking business or marketing classes at Neuqua and companies such as Tom & Eddie's and Exxon Mobil, said Jill Hlavacek, director of encore curriculum for Indian Prairie Unit District 204.

"Anytime a local business is willing to engage with the kids to give them authentic experience," Hlavacek said, "we welcome that, and the kids seem to really rise to the occasion."

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