Hey guys! As you know (or maybe not), my goal is to inspire you to travel, even if you think you can’t afford it. I want to inspire you with how I won a trip to New York City. I ended up coming home with more money than when I left. How is that even possible? Well it was all thanks to Unilever, and this wonderful annual competition they hold called Unilever Unigames.
2018 was the first year they combined Canada and US into one. Normally the finalists of Canada would go to Toronto, and the finalists of America would go to New York. Luckily for us, ALL of the finalists got to instead go to New York City together!
If you think ‘hey maybe I’ll try something new, make a little effort, and see what I need to do to get this awesome trip next year’ then you should probably keep reading.
So, let me let you in on what you need to do, and an inside scoop on exactly how my team and I made it as finalists.
This competition asks students (undergrad or masters) to make a 3-minute video. This video presents a solution to one of the questions Unilever asks that year. This past year the questions you could choose from were:
- Reach the African American consumer with products such as:
- Dove Men + Care – targeting AA men
- Hellmann’s – targeting AA Families
- Extend the ice cream season from a few months per year to a full year experience
- Make Lipton Recipe Secrets Onion Mix more relevant for millennials
- Work across our brands to leverage a subscription order model through our retailers that specifically target men
- Make Klondike the #1 ice cream bar for millennials
- Free Choice: Have a unique idea for Unilever? Share it. We look forward to hearing your creative and innovative recommendation.
My team and I sat down and went through all of the questions, brainstorming ideas for them. If we didn’t connect with one right away we scrapped it. We ended up choosing number 2, how to extend the ice cream season from a few months per year to a full year experience. My teammate, Indigo had been hearing a lot about Ben & Jerry’s in her sustainability class and learned that Unilever actually owned them. So naturally, being all marketing students, we brainstormed a marketing campaign that Ben & Jerry’s could run.
What We Did
Since Unilever doesn’t give you a whole lot of structure to what needs to be included in your video we watched the winners from last year and wrote down all of the parts they had in their videos and what order they were in. This helped us structure and script our own video. If you want to watch ours, you can find it here!
We used a tool called PowToon’s to make the video. A huge tip for you, if you decide to use PowToon’s (which I would recommend), make sure you sign up when you are READY to start your video! You will get 3 days of professional features, which means access to all of the cool stuff. So, we ended up making our video in 1 day, a solid 8 hours. For 3 minutes I know, a little bit crazy. Then all you have to do is send it in to them on their website, and voila you are done!
When we got that e-mail a few weeks later from Unilever, letting us know that we had been accepted and were heading to New York you would not believe how excited I was. They told us the hotel was already booked and to just call their travel agent to book our flights! Cha-Ching. We felt we had already won by getting this free trip.
Now that we knew we were in, all we had to do was make a slide deck and a 3-minute presentation. Which sounds somewhat easy but it was actually really hard to fit in everything in only 3 minutes! We spent about a week working on the slide deck, and then split it up into 3 parts for each of us to focus on. We then were able to script our own parts and make sure that we were under 1 minute each! Unilever also paired us up with a great mentor who gave us some amazing advice.
Funny enough, one of my teammates and I actually met our mentor at the conference in Toronto we went to a couple of weeks before this. Check out my Toronto post here to learn how I also got that trip for free!
New York City
When we got there, they had a car service pick us up and take us to the hotel we were staying at. Which by the way was probably one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed at. It was the Marriott Renaissance in Times Square. The three of us actually even got out own rooms, which was insanely cool.
We got there at noon on a Thursday and once we got dropped off at our hotel we had free time to explore the city until 6. Then at 6 we met everyone at the competition for a really nice dinner at our hotel. The rest of the night was spent practicing in our rooms for the big day tomorrow.
We all got shuttled over to the Unilever head office in New Jersey, and words cannot describe how cool this office is! It is more like a campus than an office. There are a bunch of kitchens, a hair salon, a gym, a tea bar, a smoothie place, yoga rooms, and their main kitchen has a bunch of changing local food shops. It was also so beautiful, this picture below does not even do it justice.
Okay back to the actual competition. All the competitors had 9 minutes on stage. 3 minutes to play your video, 3 minutes to present, and then 3 minutes for questions. Since 3 minutes is not a lot of time to present you really had to memorize exactly what you wanted to say, otherwise you could get caught rambling on about something and end up wasting precious time. If you want to watch the presentations, they can be found here. Note, our presentation starts around 1:06 if you want to see ours!
After everyone was done we had a small networking session and about an hour later they presented the winners. 1st place was $7K, 2nd place was $5K and 3rd place was $3K. Before they announced anyone, I was honestly not very confident because the competition was so fierce, everyone had great ideas and presentations. They called 3rd place first, and when I heard them say the University of Manitoba (our school), I was so beyond excited.
I can’t tell you why we got third exactly, or why they chose us over other people but what I can tell you is that our idea was clear, it was feasible, and we were able to present it well. So if you get selected to go one year, just remember those three things! I hope you enjoyed learning about how I won a trip to New York City and I seriously hope that one of you reading this can get the chance to go!
Safe to say I had an amazing time in New York with my two amazing team mates. I cannot thank Unilever enough for hosting such a great event and if I were still in school next year I would definitely be applying again!