Hi I’m Sylvanus, a postgraduate International Business Management student here at Coventry. In March 2017 fellow students Victoria, Ieva and myself entered the L’Oreal Brandstorm 2017, where we were officially chosen to be in the top 8 in the UK & Ireland for the international competition.
What is Brandstorm?
L’Oreal Brandstorm is an innovation competition that is carried out across 58 countries. Each year 15,000 students take up the challenge to innovate one of L’Oreal’s top brands.
This year’s challenge: Disrupt Men’s Grooming with Life-Change Innovation.
The Team – Team Blue Phoenix
I came across the competition online when looking for graduate jobs. Needing a team of 3 to take part I reached out to Victoria, who I knew from our undergrad course (Advertising & Marketing), who then reached out to Ieva. Using our knowledge, intelligence, creativity and know-how, we came up with a concept to disrupt the male grooming industry: The Simple Solution.
Victoria was absolute dynamite when it came to creative ideas for our new concept and ideas for promotion. Ieva had a great eye for design and detail in all areas of the project we had to deal with. I was able to find research to back-up our idea and just about use ‘Illustrator’ to get our idea across for the 1st phase of the competition, which was a 3 slide submission with our concept.
A week after our submission, it was announced that we had got through to the top 8 out of over 50 submissions across the UK & Ireland. We were excited to be invited to L’Oreal HQ in London for a briefing day, prior to the finals in April where we got to learn more about the company, the brand range and what they expected from us. We were amazed, shocked and happy – but then realised that it was going to be a lot of work – and as master’s students we already had a lot on with deadlines coming in from every angle. But we all agreed that this was a great opportunity and would find the time to prepare for the finals and do the best we could. Go hard or go home!
UK Nationals – April
The day of the competition was nerve-racking to say the least. The day consisted of us having to present our ideas to a panel of judges against some tough teams, as well as L’Oreal employees during their lunch breaks (not easy at all!). Unfortunately, we did not make it to the World Finals, but we were very proud to be presented the People’s Choice Award, which was made extra sweet as it was presented to us by the Director of HR for UK & Ireland Paul Gilliam (ex Warwick Alumni). We are very happy to have achieved this award, which shows that the L’Oreal employees saw the potential in our product as it was voted for by them.
Throughout the competition Lara Chaplin was our mentor, and a great one at that. She believed in us in the beginning even when we were not 100% sure. She pushed us to think ‘outside the box’, encouraged us to not be afraid to take risks, and was there every step of the way. Her support was invaluable and she is a great example of how a lecturer can push students to reach their potential.
What we took away
We were able to get a real insight into the industry whilst seeing and learning what it takes to succeed at a market-leading organisation such as L’Oréal. It was an invaluable experience, the skills we have picked can be transferable to any area of business.
I would recommend that if you have the chance to get involved in a competition like this, do it! There are loads of competitions like this out there for students, not just for those who may be on a business course, but a variety of subjects. (I also came across this competition website too. Check it out… There are some great opportunities out there in the world you’ve just got to find them!)