Learning to “Think Big” with Leo Burnett

With a communications background, I was in my element during our visit to Leo Burnett Costa Rica. Over the weekend, the agency had won various awards, including “Agency of the Year” and “Best Work in Show”! The following video highlights their campaign that won the “Best Work in Show”:

While I am not from Costa Rica this video touched my core – congratulations Leo Burnett on an excellent campaign with humankind at its core!

Now you are asking what is this humankind philosophy? “Humankind is not about advertising or brand propositions or selling products.  It’s about people and purpose.   It’s an approach to marketing that serves true human needs.  Everything that LB does for brands is designed with human purpose in mind.  A brand without a purpose is one that will never be understand or embraced by people.  A brand with purpose can be a true agent of change and transform the way people think, feel or act.  A brand with a true HumanKind purpose can change the world.  LB’s dream is to be the best creator of ideas that truly move people”.

Our visit allowed us a glimpse to see how Leo Burnett is able to develop communications with the humankind philosophy at the core.  The integrated research, design, and implementation process allows Leo Burnett to help their clients connect with customers, and foster a two-way conversation.  This visit came at a perfect time since we just finished a marketing class with Dr. Luchs last week!



Student Spotlight: Katie Summers

katiesummersBefore Duquesne: Katie attended Washington & Jefferson College where she studied business administration. Katie still manages to find the time to balance her position as a marketing intern at NetServe 365, an IT company in Robinson township, with a full-time course load.

Why Duquesne: “I chose this program because it is innovative and will allow me to learn about managing a business while reducing the impact we have on the earth. Business is changing and sustainability is going to be the most important aspect of the way people live and run their business so I wanted to become educated early and be able to be part of changing the world.”

Beyond Duquesne: After the program, her goals are to find a position in finance or operations in the field of information technology.

Putting the Pieces Together: Design Thinking + PNC


Our project’s course kicked off with a design thinking simulation from IDEO and Experience Point.  Our facilitator, Drew Marshall, discussed the “sweet spot” between desirability, feasibility, and viability and outlined a systematic process for observation, ideation, testing and implementation. A highlight of the design thinking workshop was the lightening round of brainstorming. This process will be useful as we begin our consulting project with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

IMG_7165The following day, PNC’s chief marketing officer Karen Larrimer spoke to our cohort about the disciplined methodology for breakthrough innovation used at PNC. Using Target as an example, she shed light on how companies collect information and use specific data algorithms to tailor marketing to individual customer needs and wants.

One classmate, Laura, recognized the design thinking in PNC’s creation of the virtual wallet application.  Karen explained that the application responds to customer shifts from brick and mortar to ATMs and on-line bill paying while providing a competitive advantage for PNC. Laura described the creation of the virtual wallet as a “win-win” because customers have more flexibility, and the bank is able to reach more customers.

It is no accident that the program hosted Karen Larrimer after our design thinking simulation with Drew Marshall. While Drew showed us the theory and application of design thinking, Karen was able to show us design thinking in practice at PNC. It’s a relief to see that we learn in the classroom is directly applicable to a business environment.

Student Spotlight: Jana DiSanti


Before Duquesne:  Prior to joining this program, Jana’s work experience includes, crewleader with the non-profit organization the Student Conservation Association, Chicago chapter; Sierra Club community outreach representative; actor, photographer, and assistant retail manager at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, Denali National Park Alaska; brand representative and product spokesperson for Penn Breweries.  Jana has lived in a variety of places, including: Chicago, Illinois; Denali National Park, Alaska; London, England; Washington, Pennsylvania; Hershey Pennsylvania; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  She studied psychology and theatre at Washington & Jefferson College.

Why Duquesne: “I believe that the emphasis the MBA Sustainability program places upon assembling a diverse cohort of individuals offers ideal conditions for developing new and innovative ways to tackle the incredibly complex challenges facing today’s advocates for the development of sustainable practices.   The program’s assertion that no true profit can be had at the expense of environmental or social justice opened my eyes to the potential powers of business to effect positive change in the world and, ultimately, led me to enthusiastically pursue a degree I had never previously considered.  I truly believe that this year’s MBA Sustainability cohort is something special and that we will make some amazing discoveries together!”

After Duquesne: She plans to relocate to the Pacific Northwest to manage marketing and PR for an organization focused on generating a successful triple bottom line, preferably in the sector of sustainable agriculture and food production.  I hope to dedicate my career to developing new, interrelated paradigms for human and environmental health.