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May 1, 2007 > Leadership Challenge - The Results

Leadership Challenge - The Results

By Vidya Pradhan

In February we carried the story of the 'Apprentice' style challenge issued by Logitech Inc. to student leaders in five Fremont high schools: Mission San Jose, Newark Memorial, Irvington, Washington and American. Seven weeks have passed since the students were assigned their task and it is now time to find out who won.

The program, jointly developed by Ben Breazeale, a leadership teacher at Mission San Jose High School, and Emily Lorenzen, advertising specialist at Logitech, was a way to engage high school students in the real world challenges of marketing and promoting products. The teams, comprised of kids from the student body of these local high schools, were given a simple task but of broad scope - to develop online advertising for Logitech's QuickCam and an associated technology known as Video Effects that develops avatars (video representations of users) during video conferences.

At the end of the seven week period, each team made a half-hour presentation to a panel of judges made up of Logitech executives and directors. The winner of the high school 'Apprentice' was- Mission San Jose!

The Mission San Jose team put together a variety of different advertising proposals under the theme 'Your world in focus.' This included billboard advertising, online banner mock-up, a print and two commercial storyboards. "The coolest part of the presentation was the viral video which was funny and touching," says Emily Lorenzen. The video followed the travails of a high school student who had a virtual girlfriend till Logitech's superior technology brought her face into sharp focus!

"The other presentations were not ranked," says Emily, "but there were some really good themes that came out of the program. Irvington came up with Mr. Potato Head as a concept for Video Effects which would allow the user to customize the video avatar. It was a unique way to explain what Video effects does. There were some very interesting commercials that gave us an insight into the way young people think."

The reason Mission San Jose's presentation stood out appears to have been the comprehensive approach they had to the problem. While the original scope of the challenge was mostly web based, the team went above and beyond to include other media that can still make a significant impact on customers' minds.

While Ben Breazeale from Mission San Jose was instrumental in setting up the program, he and the activity directors from the other high schools adopted a hands-off approach to the challenge. The concept and marketing ideas were developed entirely by the students. "I've worked with these kids for years and I am not surprised at the quality of their work," says Ben. "All the teams did a fantastic job. Even Logitech said it was hard to judge."

While Logitech would not be using the team's campaign as it stands right now, they have given the students the option of working with them to tweak the materials and possibly make it usable in the future.

"It was really fun for us to see the take that high-schoolers had on the market and the product. We were pleasantly surprised by how professional their approach was and how great their ideas were. Overall all of the students really exceeded our expectations," says Emily. "It was an opportunity to reach out to the community and teach our students about leadership and business and Logitech. We are definitely open to such projects in the future."

The Apprentice challenge demonstrated the ability of local students to work on real world challenges, not only meeting the challenge, but excelling in response. This exercise demonstrated the wealth of talent and creativity available in our high schools; from this success, it appears that there will be greater connections between local companies and schools in the years to come.

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