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CSOM Classes Take Teecil To The Next Level

BC Students Compete In Electronic Marketing

News Editor

Published: Monday, December 3, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

In recent weeks, Boston College has been subject to an electronic marketing onslaught for the Teecil, a combination golf tee and pencil designed by Providence College alumnus Stephen Squillante. Students in Edward Gonsalves’ three sections of Marketing Principles were pitted against each other this semester in a marketing competition to obtain the most views on online uploads, including images of the Teecil in unique places and YouTube videos.

Gonsalves, in his first year teaching at BC, was surprised to have opened a Pandora’s Box of intense competition among CSOM students that he said prompted changes to the curriculum.

“There is a breaking-in period at a new institution, where you learn the characteristics of the students and how they are wired,” Gonsalves said in an email. “I quickly learned a few lessons that have required real-time adjustments to our current project efforts and will necessitate changes moving forward.”

Gonsalves, who came from teaching at Providence College, spoke highly of the effort BC students have put in on the project, but said it caught him by surprise.

“BC students are engaged in their education and take it seriously,” Gonsalves said. “They are not afraid to question anything, and are also not afraid to work very hard. BC students are uber-competitive in everything they do. When you give them a project that has at its core a competitive component, they will respond competitively.”

Some of that competition took the Teecil to another level. Different student marketing groups uploaded photos of the Teecil of questionable appropriateness, including images of the Teecil between both a woman’s breasts and a man’s buttocks. Although Gonsalves encouraged students to be aggressive and creative in marketing the product, he acknowledged that some students took the assignment too far.

“What happened with some student groups was an effort to push the envelope to drive traffic to their content without really thinking through the consequences on the brand,” Gonsalves said. “I take responsibility for not anticipating that their competiveness might cloud their judgment regarding the appropriateness of social media postings.”

In addition, Gonsalves said students learned an important lesson about real life marketing—not pushing the envelope too far.

“Teecil was clearly a brand that would not support some of the content that has been posted,” Gonsalves said. “When I was made aware of the content, I opened up my class the following day with clear guidance on what was appropriate and what was not. Whatever they posted in support of their efforts not only reflected on the Teecil brand, but also on them, the Carroll School of Management and BC.”

Gonsalves took his first experience assigning a competitive group project to BC students as a learning one.

“My lesson learned is to be as detailed as possible to better channel the creative, engaged and competitive BC student,” Gonsalves said.

Gonsalves, who spent 30 years in the high-technology industry before turning to teaching, had an integral role in the start of the Teecil. While a professor at Providence College, Gonsalves was approached by his student, Squillante, who had the idea of a combination golf tee and pencil. Gonsalves, who had experience in design, applications, sales, and marketing, mentored Squillante and assisted him in bringing the product from theory to market.

“Professor Gonsalves is an engineer and he helped me figure out how to actually build the product,” Squillante said in an email. “I did not even know who to contact about this type of thing and Professor Gonsalves was a big help in figuring out the design and the building of the product.”

As a result, Gonsalves’ name appears on the patent for the Teecil, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office website. Gonsalves was quick to note, however, that he does not necessarily stand to benefit financially from sales of the product simply because his name appears on the patent.

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