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Centers | Center for Customer Insight & Marketing Solutions
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McCombs Marketing Conference and Challenge

October 26 & 27, 2017

Marketing in the Age of Controversy

Business, political and social issues have become increasingly intertwined in everyday conversation, creating a highly charged environment that companies must manage to remain successful. As consumers publicize their personal beliefs and take a stance on controversial subjects, they are increasingly looking to companies to follow suit. In this era of social media virality and political polarization, with vocal consumers eager to jump on the next controversy, how do companies make strategic business decisions and market effectively?

The 2017 McCombs Marketing Conference explores this subject in depth in the quest to discover the critical skills for “Marketing in the Age of Controversy,” a mindset needed to unlock growth in today's business and political environment. This year’s annual event welcomes back distinguished McCombs alumni who are now leading marketers in their industries. Together with other industry leaders, students, and faculty, the conference will help to recognize, examine, and stimulate innovation in the field of marketing.


Date/Location Time Event 
Thursday, 10/26/17
AT&T Conference Center
1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Challenge Check-in

2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Challenge Prelims
  4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Conference Registration
  5:00 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Managing Authenticity: Leveraging Core Values to Take a Stand
Tony Rogers, CMO, Walmart
Haley Rushing, Chief Purposeologist, The Purpose Institute

  5:45 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.  Weathering a Storm: A Guidebook for Resolution
• John Rood, SVP, Marketing, Disney Channels Worldwide

  6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Networking Reception
Date/Location Time Event 
Friday, 10/27/17
AT&T Conference Center
7:00 a.m. – 7:45 a.m. Challenge Check-in

8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Challenge Finals

9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Conference Registration

10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. David and Goliath: Inciting Controversy to Gain Market Share
• Tressie Leiberman, CMO, Snap Kitchen
• Andrew Springate, CMO, Dr Pepper Snapple Group

  11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Alumni Panel: Lessons Learned from My Time at McCombs
Sue Galvanek, VP, Marketing, AT&T
Marissa Jarratt, VP & Head of Marketing, Dean Foods Company
Karen Plotkin, VP, NA Client Solutions, Dell
Marissa Tarleton, CMO, RetailMeNot

  12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Networking Lunch
  1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. Keynote Presentation-Taking Dead Aim: Using Conflict to Build Your Brand
Kurt Kane, CMO, Wendy’s

  2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Challenge Awards Ceremony

Marketing Challenge

The McCombs Marketing Challenge allows teams of four first-year MBA students to prepare presentations based on their analysis of a business case distributed at 6:30pm on Wednesday, 10/18/17, which is the week prior to the challenge. At 5pm on Wednesday, 10/25/17, students will be required to submit their presentation to the event organizers. The first round of presentations takes place Thursday afternoon, 10/26/17 followed by a final round Friday morning, 10/27/17 in which four teams participate. Corporate representatives will judge presentations detailing case analysis and recommendations. The winning team will be announced Friday afternoon during the conference. Challenge participants are expected to attend the full conference.

  • Students assemble teams of 4 prior to registering
  • Over $7,000 in cash and prizes
  • Judges represent a wide range of companies



This event is for McCombs students, Marketing faculty, corporate sponsors, and invited guests.



A block of hotel rooms has been reserved for October 26, 2017 at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center. Click here to make your reservation online and select "attendee" as the guest type. Reservations can also be made using the contact information listed below. Please request the "McCombs Marketing Conference" group rate of $189. The deadline to reserve hotel rooms is September 26, 2017.

Additional Austin hotels are also listed below.

On Campus Hotel Rooms

AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center

Designed for visitors to the university, or anyone who desires to experience the spirit and flavor of The University of Texas at Austin. As our guest, you can expect well-appointed accommodations, four-star service, fine dining, and walking accessibility to all of the cultural and educational offerings of UT Austin. All rooms offer high-tech productivity features from AT&T.

The center also features 40,000 square feet of meeting and function space, including a grand ballroom, 300-seat amphitheater, and seven tiered classrooms with ergonomic seating. You will find it to be the premiere facility of its kind in the Southwest.

AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center
1900 University Avenue (corner of MLK and University)
Austin, TX 78705

For reservations call
Local: 512-475-7505
Toll Free: 877-744-8822


Hotel Phone
Adams House Bed and Breakfast (512) 453-7696
Austin Marriott at the Capitol (512) 478-1111
(800) 228-9290
Days Inn (512) 478-1631
Doubletree Hotel Austin-University Area (512) 479-4000
(800) 424-2900
Doubletree Guest Suites (512) 478-7000
Embassy Suites Downtown (512) 469-9000
Four Seasons Hotel (512) 478-4500
Holiday Inn Town Lake (512) 472-8211
Hyatt Regency (512) 477-1234
(800) 233-1234
La Quinta Inn Capitol (512) 476-1166
(800) 531-5900
Omni Hotel (512) 476-3700
(800) THE-OMNI
Radisson Hotel on Town Lake (512) 478-9611
(800) 333-3333
The Sheraton Austin Hotel (512) 478-1111
InterContinental Stephen F Austin (512) 457-8800
Strickland Arms Bed and Breakfast (512) 454-4426
Woodburn House Bed and Breakfast 512-458-4335
Hancock Guest Cottages 512-297-3945

Arboretum Area

Hotel Phone
Residence Inn by Marriott, NW (512) 502-8200
(800) 331-3131
Renaissance Austin Hotel (512) 343-2626
(800) 468-3571
Courtyard by the Marriott (512) 502-8100
(800) 527-1133
Hampton Inn NW (512) 349-9898
(800) 426-7866
Hawthorne Sutes NW (512) 343-0008
(800) 527-1133
Holiday Inn NW Plaza (512) 343-0888
Homewood Sutes NW (512) 349-9966
La Quinta Mopac (512) 832-2121
(800) 531-5900
Northpark Suites (512) 452-9391
(800) 851-9111
Ramada Inn Limited (512) 835-7070
(800) 228-2828

Ben White/IH 35 Area

Hotel Phone
Courtyard by Marriott South (512) 912-1122
(800) 228-9290
Homewood Suites South (512) 445-5050
(800) 225-5466
Fairfield Inn South (512) 707-8899
(800) 228-2800
Hampton Inn South (512) 442-4040
(800) 426-7866
Hawthorne Suites South (512) 440-7722
(800) 527-1133
Holiday Inn South (512) 448-2444
La Quinta Ben White (512) 443-1774
(800) 531-5900
The Omni Southpark (512) 448-2222
(800) THE-OMNI
Clarion Inn & Suites (512) 444-0561
(800) 228-5151
Ramada Inn South (512) 447-0151
(800) 228-2828
Residence Inn South (512) 912-1100
(800) 331-3131
Austin Airport Marriott South (512) 441-7900

Mopac/Southwest Parkway

Hotel Phone
La Quinta Inn (Gaines Ranch Loop) (512) 899-3000
(800) 531-5900

Additional Information


AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center
1900 University Avenue
Austin, TX 78705


Parking is available in the AT&T Conference Center garage (20th and Whitis) or the Brazos Garage (MLK Blvd and Brazos).


Conference Attendees and Challenge Judges: Business Casual
Challenge Participants: Business Professional

Marketing Case Presentation Upload

Upload your presentation for the Marketing Challenge case competition below. Please include your team name in the document title. Presentations are due by 5pm on Wednesday, October 25. If you have any technical difficulties please contact Lori Van Orden.


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