March 5-6, 2019

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How a Creative Research Approach is Helping the Scripps National Spelling Bee Explore Expansion

The Scripps Spelling Bee is exploring expansion both domestically and internationally. We kicked off research in both South Africa and India. While there is general awareness of the concept of a spelling bee in both India and South Africa, there was a strong theme in our previous research that the following needed to occur:

  1. Create a value proposition
    • Strengthening the basics of language through a fun, yet educational competition which lays the foundation for all other courses.
  2. Increase awareness
    • Collaborate with student newspapers.
    • Create exciting, colorful messaging and media to create hype from children.
  3. Early exposure
    • Consider starting from grade 1 to generate appeal.
  4. Provide support
    • Provide clear manuals and guidelines for parents and teachers so students have the support they need.
    • Distribute promo booklets with mini test series.

With the understanding that proper training and instruction would be needed to implement a program, both on the teacher and participant sides, the Bee feels new materials should be created, rather than adaptations of U.S. materials which assume a familiarity with spelling bee rules and traditions.

For our second round of research, the aim was to create two instructional guides: one for teachers and one for students and their parents, which will introduce the idea of a spelling bee and clearly explain what is involved in running or participating in a spelling bee through creative visuals and concise text.

Through multiple rounds of focus groups, followed by creative connects, Scripps, Landor and MarketVision worked together to both facilitate and moderate workshops with parents and teachers separately. Through these three-hour workshops, we leveraged a creative approach with activity-based learning to help parents and teachers to create guides that would excite and inspire them and their students through copy and imagery.

Presentation type:

  • Case Study Presentation

Subjects covered:

  • Effective vendor/client relationship management
  • Customer experience
  • Storytelling/data interpretation
  • Global/international research
  • Industry trends – future of marketing research
  • Ethics or privacy
  • Hybrid/mixed methods (qualitative, quant, mobile, SM)
  • Ethnographic/observational research


  1. How the English language can propel students to excellence.
    • “The child who can spell properly has been empowered for life. The child has been liberated.”
    • “Language and intelligence are inseparable.”
    • “We need something like this in South Africa. It is grand! We need something big, something exciting that will give us and our children hope, give our nation hope, cause others to look at us differently as a nation.”
  2. How to reach others globally – understanding it doesn’t take a whole program to do so but just recognizing other people and hearing their stories can give them hope.
  3. Learn techniques to engage and inspire parents and teachers.


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