With cell phones steadily replacing landlines among consumers ages 21 to 29, Cincinnati Bell has struggled to maintain its market share with the younger generation. To combat the problem, the company staged a contest modeled after the reality show “The Apprentice,” but instead pitted teams of M.B.A. students from Xavier and the University of Cincinnati against each other. Their task: Create a strategy to connect with this elusive demographic.
The company kicked off the project on April 1 and by June 6, three teams—one from Xavier, two from UC—made their final presentations in the Cincinnati Bell boardroom. “We were confident about the strategy and recommendations that we had to present, but the situation was somewhat intimidating,” says Amy Lovelace, the Xavier team’s captain.
Although Cincinnati Bell provided information from their internal data files, the team conducted extensive research, logged about 150 hours each and exchanged nearly 1,000 e-mails.
Finally, with all the fanfare and drama of the reality show, the teams reconvened in the boardroom, the lights dimmed and the judges entered as the theme from “The Apprentice” played. “Although the team from UC won, Lovelace is proud of her team’s accomplishments. “The stakes were high, the time was short and that makes it very real from a business perspective,” she says. “We learned to function very quickly and efficiently as a group.”