University of Tennessee

Student Marketing Organization Collaborates with Corporate Partners

March 9, 2020

A student organization in the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is gaining real-world marketing experience by partnering with companies in a variety of industries.

AMAze, a student-run group that operates through UT’s chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA), welcomes members from all majors. Anyone from freshmen to graduate students can join.

Cindy Raines, distinguished lecturer in the marketing department at Haslam, has served as the UT AMA faculty advisor for three years. AMAze arose out of the interests AMA members expressed in building their resumés. She saw an opportunity for the students to collaborate with firms that could benefit from their input. 

“To really learn marketing and leadership skills, students need to experience real-world scenarios and opportunities,” Raines says. “These are truly student-run projects.”

AMAze officially launched this spring after beta testing for several semesters. Beta partners included Black Banyan, Classic Cookie, the Tennessee Valley Fair and UT’s own University Printing and Mail. 

At the beginning of each semester, AMA members have the opportunity to volunteer for AMAze, and Raines says many students return to volunteer again in later semesters. Out of the 90 current members, about 30 volunteered to be in AMAze this semester.

AMAze is divided into teams of four to eight, based on student schedules. Each team is matched with a corporate partner who chooses an area of focus for the students, such as target market development, branding or social media. Over six to eight weeks, the students spend about one hour per week working toward delivering a final presentation to their corporate partner. 

Junior marketing major Chloe Pigue, student president of UT AMA, was part of the AMAze group that worked with Classic Cookie to segment the company’s target audience and increase brand awareness. Pigue says she was glad for the opportunity to take on some real-world business challenges.

“It’s about doing something you’re proud of,” she says. “The report we produced for Classic Cookie is something I would be happy to show to any potential employer.”

Scott Suchomski, executive director of the Tennessee Valley Fair, was impressed with the marketing strategies AMAze developed to promote the fair’s 100th anniversary celebration. Fair staff implemented several of the team’s ideas, including giveaways for the first 100 fairgoers at each gate and a beer garden in the bandstand area.

Madhuri Jagadish, founder of textile-based home décor company Black Banyan, was referred to Raines and AMAze when she sought advice from Haslam about streamlining her company’s marketing strategies. 

“The students were extremely diligent [and] gave wonderful and pertinent suggestions for improvement,” she says. “In my opinion, they were as good or even better than some of the professional marketing firms we approached.”

AMAze is working with four corporate partners this semester and is actively seeking additional partners for the future. For more information about working with AMAze, please contact Cindy Raines.



Stacy Estep (business writer/publicist, 865-974-7881,