I’m just going to say it: Marketing at Wharton is awesome, amazing, truly the best in the world. And yet, it’s often overshadowed by other aspects of the Wharton brand. I’ve decided that my mission in this blog is to raise the profile of Marketing at Wharton. To, um, market the Marketing Department.

There are any number of good things to blog about, but I’m going to start with one group that we are particularly proud of: the Marketing Undergraduate Students Establishment, or MUSE.

MUSE was started by an entrepreneurial group of students who wanted to promote marketing as a course of study and a career path at Penn. They facilitated the combination of three disparate marketing clubs on campus. Since then, MUSE has grown from about 20 original members to more than 150 this year. They come from both within Wharton and, more broadly, Penn, often pursuing a dual concentration in Marketing and Communication or minoring in Consumer Psychology (another aspect of marketing at Wharton that I’m proud of). Simply put, MUSE rocks.

Like many marketing clubs around the country, MUSE is an active collegiate chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA). Unlike many marketing clubs around the country, MUSE has dominated the AMA’s collegiate chapters since its inception.

In 2005-2006, their very first year of affiliation with the AMA, MUSE won the Best New Chapter of the Year Award and the Outstanding Chapter Award. In 2007, they were named a Distinguished Chapter. In 2008, they were the AMA Chapter of the Year, and have been named Superior Chapter in both of the years since. More amazingly, they have won the AMA Case Competition EVERY SINGLE YEAR since 2006. They have competed five times; they have won five times. (No pressure for this year’s team … really.)

In 2009, the case competition focused on developing a plan to attract, engage and retain potential donors to UNICEF’s Tap Project. MUSE’s team collected market research from volunteers and conducted a competitor analysis, ultimately offering recommendations about how to segment the Tap Project’s donors, build overall brand awareness, alter and update its overall messaging strategy and increase donor engagement and recurring donations. In 2008, they were tasked with developing a strategy for Kodak’s digital Gallery services. This year’s competition asks teams to create an integrated marketing communications plan for Nintendo’s current console, portable gaming devices and software in the U.S. market to attract current non-gamers (I recently identified myself as a member of that target market when my son asked me to play a game with him on the Wii and I replied, “Really? Couldn’t we play a board game instead?!”).

I had the pleasure of having Lillian Chou, W’10, the current MUSE President, in my undergraduate advertising course a few years ago. Lillian says that what really distinguishes MUSE from other clubs on campus is its focus on offering hands-on activities for members, whether it’s engaging in consulting projects for companies, serving on committees or participating in a case competition. In the last year, MUSE was able to offer 6 consulting projects per semester, allowing teams of 6 students to gain experience conducting competitive analyses, conducting marketing research, developing STP strategies and running promotional campaigns. And MUSE has started to compete in additional case competitions beyond the one sponsored by the AMA. These opportunities give students the ability to gain direct experience in marketing and, importantly, to speak from that experience in job interviews. With this background, MUSE members have done well on the job market, even in the face of the economic difficulties of the past few years.  They’ve landed jobs after graduation with American Express, Microsoft, Bain Consulting, Kraft, General Mills, Insight Venture Partners and Rosetta Consulting, among many others.

And all of this amazing work and set of accomplishments is facilitated by the outstanding mentorship of my colleague (and co-author), Keith Niedermeier, who is Director of the Wharton Undergraduate Marketing Program and an award-winning teacher in both our undergraduate and MBA classrooms. His work with MUSE was rewarded by the AMA’s presentation of the Hugh G. Wales Outstanding Advisor Award to Keith last year. He is simultaneously wise counsel, cool professor, demanding perfectionist and Facebook friend to MUSE’s members. We’re all lucky to have him here.

MUSE is just one piece of what makes marketing special at Wharton. I love that it’s by and for the undergraduate students who are constantly demonstrating their excellence. We couldn’t be prouder of them, past and present. If you are an alum and MUSE member, leave a comment in the space below or send me an email. I’d love to hear about your MUSE experiences!