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When MBA student Juan Delgado began working with PlentyOfFish on a marketing consulting project, the online dating company got far more than they’d bargained for.

It started last spring when Delgado and a few fellow MBAs from Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School worked on a small consulting project with PlentyOfFish, to apply their classroom learning in the real world, before setting off for summer internships.

Their early ideas for a guerrilla marketing campaign to improve public perceptions of online dating were gaining traction with the company, but soon Delgado’s teammates needed to head off to their full-time internships. He was the only one left with an internship flexible enough to allow him to keep working on the project.

Motivated to take their ideas all the way to implementation, Delgado felt he couldn’t give up on what he and his team had come up with.

“Seeing it through could be a high-reward venture for me,” he says. “And I was confident I could pull it off.”

A 30-day dating challenge

By the end of the summer, after many hours of research, meeting with different ad agencies and fine tuning his creative solutions, he pitched his vision for an interactive 30-day dating challenge, to be done by a comedian with a strong social media following.

The PlentyOfFish marketing team liked it so much they asked Delgado to present his idea to the CEO and founder, Markus Frind.

Delgado says he wasn’t certain Frind would buy in to the idea, but he was pleasantly surprised.

“At the end, the CEO just looked at me and said great, let’s do it,” Delgado says. “The marketing team was flabbergasted. And not only that, but they soon set out a budget far bigger than I had envisioned.”

He was excited that pitching to the CEO went over so well, but then realized that really, the scary part had only just begun: implementing the campaign. “I went through a myriad of emotions then,” he says.

Over the course of the next few months, Delgado worked tirelessly with the marketing team at PlentyOfFish to plan the campaign, which is now live as the Mandy Project, led by Mandy Stadtmiller of the online magazine xoJane.

Stadtmiller has been testing out a different dating cliché each day as she tries to find her dream Valentine. She’s watched the Super Bowl with a bunch of guys to try accepting men as they are, she’s asked out a mixed martial arts fighter to see if opposites really do attract, and she’s posted a brutally honest dating profile to see if honesty really is the best policy. She even walked around Times Square with a sign blaring, “I am currently SINGLE.”

A great calling card

Delgado says the project is a great case study for what can be done with minimum resources and maximum creativity – “as opposed to just throwing money at something,” he says.

Sarah Gooding, PR & Communications Manager at PlentyOfFish, who worked with Delgado on the project, agrees with him, and adds that the recent MBA graduate has been a "superstar" not only for his idea, but continuously in his role as producer of the campaign.

"One minute he's a digital marketer and creative director, the next he's a people manager and accountant," Gooding says. "His many skills have been critical to the success of the Mandy Project."

And for him, Delgado says the campaign is a great calling card he can show off now that he’s finished his MBA.

“The experience I got from this will be incredibly impactful for me,” he says. “I can now go to other employers and say, I have this campaign, this is how we did it – it’s a really nice tangible piece I can include with everything else I got from the UBC MBA.”