June 25, 2007
The Best Business School Is a Soap Company in Ohio?

While I didn't come to my present job working in media research through a business school but rather through our program here in Comparative Media Studies at MIT, I'm quite interested in how the ideas we think about and write about are reacted to and incorporated into business school rhetoric, since today's MBA candidates may very well be tomorrow's business leaders or researchers who could have significant impact on the types of questions we are addressing.

(Let me be clear on this, though--I don't think one HAS to have that MBA to make an impact...at least I sure hope not!)

But, in that regard, C3 Affiliated Faculty Grant McCracken's recent blog entry about what the best business school is was quite intriguing.

His take?

Northwestern's Kellogg program was once the best in the country, but it was greatly hurt by turning its back on an anthropological point of view once John Sherry and another C3 affiliated faculty member, Rob Kozinets, left the program. (By the way, Kozinets is now at York University in Toronto and has his own blog here. See my recent post about Brandthroposophy as well.)

McCracken questions whether the best marketers out there are not necessarily easily identified by school but rather by being a P&G alum.

He writes about the "P&G diaspora," concluding that "There are still lots of cultural sophisticated marketers out there...and now, I am beginning to wonder whether this might not be because P&G is a defacto marketing program that has produced many (hundreds? thousands?) of graduates who make up the deficit that business school programs now systematically create. "

I've had some conversations with a variety of folks around P&G and know that there are a lot of bright and innovative thinkers there in that company. I've highlighted one of them--Surya Yalamanchili--a couple of times in the past (look here and here. You may remember Surya from his stint on The Apprentice, but I met him at our Futures of Entertainment event last year--before he became a television star.

My own research on daytime television has fallen on P&G's daytime television division, which seems corporately quite disconnected from P&G as a whole and which could probably use a lot of the innovative mentality when it comes to branding that P&G distributes as a whole. See my post on managing soap operas as brands here, and feel free to contact me at samford@mit.edu if you are interested in a copy.

I think Grant raises some good points that highlights both how far-reaching the influence of P&G is on the industry and also the ways in which business schools are potentially currently shortchanging their students on a very important set of questions to look at.



Thanks for joining my LinkedIn network. Much appreciated.

Grant does make some interesting points. I would add that the future of brand management may not be found at MBA programs at all but at (insert shameless plug here) VCU Adcenter.

Their Creative Brand Management track has kicked some serious MBA butt recently in a couple competitions...

Butt kicking aside, I believe creativity and synthesis will trump balance sheet analysis any day.


Ed, thanks for your note! And isn't the blogosphere the home of shameless plugs? :)