A flash mob in the heart of FIU. Professors who were dared to show their skills in salsa and hip-hop, and another who took to the dunk tank. A kissing booth starring a four-legged barking cutie.
College of Business students mixed these shots of creativity and laughter into a rigorous three-week marketing assignment that delivered a powerful lesson in personal branding.
Within that tight time frame, students had to create four campaigns benefitting Claire’s Place Foundation, which helps children with cystic fibrosis and their families. To reflect Claire’s challenges, they tagged the campaign “#GiveABreath.”
“The campaigns and the fundraising activities were designed for students to use their marketing skills to make the world a better place,” said marketing department chair Anthony Miyazaki, who danced to the rhythm of Celia Cruz with professor Wendy Guess in a student-led challenge that raised $1,144.00.
Claire Wineland, who has lived with cystic fibrosis since birth, visited FIU on March 8, sharing the importance of authenticity with a diverse set of marketing students. Now 18, she has created a personal brand that goes beyond her illness and speaks for patients with a variety of ailments.
Her message: illness and suffering don’t define a person.
“Society teaches us to pity people who are suffering,” said Wineland. “What we should do is empower them, show them that you can make something beautiful and work through every challenge you have in your life.”
Whether it’s decorating a hospital room with string lights and the latest trends, hosting a “chill space” for doctors and nurses, or describing the many medications and four hours of respiratory therapy she undergoes each day, Wineland hasn’t allowed cystic fibrosis to define her.
“Some of the happiest, proudest moments of my life have been had in a hospital room,” Wineland told the almost 400 students at the presentation. “Few people understand what it is to live a life that’s truly fantastic.”
The event highlighted the importance of creating a personal brand that takes into account one’s strengths, skills, passions, and attributes.
“On a personal level, when you choose to market yourself you are faced with the need to recognize who you are in order to present it to society,” said Stephanie Espinoza, who led the AMA at FIU chapter’s “#GiveABreath” fundraising. “As a marketer you need to be able to turn those hospital room situations into engaging situations which assimilate to your specific target market.”
There were several standing ovations, laughter and a few tears as Wineland spoke. A slideshow of her life played on the auditorium’s screen “to show I’ve really been sick all my life.”
She was completely surprised when the entire audience put on purple t-shirts supporting the “Clairity” project and students presented her with a check for $7,000, raised through the “#GiveABreath” events, to Claire’s Place Foundation.
Cheers filled the room after Wineland finished speaking and students gathered around her to take photos and chat.
“Her unique brand focuses on seeing challenges as opportunities to grow and be happy in spite of the problem,” said Espinoza. “She was making jokes and laughing… she’s just a girl and doesn’t want to be seen as a girl with a disease.”