Meet Marketing Professor Natalie Mitchell
Incoming Assistant Professor Natalie Mitchell comes to Merrimack from Tulane University where she taught graduate and undergraduate Marketing courses. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2004 with a B.S. in Public Relations and received an M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications from Florida International University in 2009. She spent several years working in communications, merchandising, media planning and event planning, and then went on to earn a Ph.D. in Advertising and Marketing from the University of Texas in 2014. Her dissertation focused on the impact of luxury brand mentions on consumer culture.
You spent several years working at Macy’s. How does that experience inform your teaching?
During my time at Macy’s, I worked as a merchandiser for Men’s Underwear and basics, and as an assistant media planner. Those two roles prepared me for bigger responsibility when, as the southeast regional special events manager, I was responsible for planning events from Atlanta to Memphis to Charlotte – focusing on shoes, fragrances and handbags. My job involved planning an event theme, creating activities, hiring talent, securing vendors, managing legal contracts, initiating sales incentives, merchandising, and developing advertising. The events included fashion shows, cooking demonstrations, celebrity public appearances (50 Cent, Patti LaBelle, Robin Thicke, Queen Latifah, Chef Emille, Carla Hall, among others), and more.
I integrate these experiences into my classes on Events Marketing, Retailing, and Business to Business Marketing. Students are tasked with developing a special event, determining how to maximize merchandise buys, negotiating retail space in a store, creating sales incentives, and developing partnerships with non-profits to add more value to events. Students learn that there is a tremendous amount of work, quick thinking, and responsibility involved with this business.
What have you observed in your studies of the impact of marketing communications on consumer culture, such as luxury brands and reality TV?
Historically, luxury brands were marketed to its niche consumers. With the emergence of reality TV programs showcasing desirable lifestyles, luxury brands are integrated and promoted now to mass audiences. In my research, I’ve learned that consumers, particularly marginalized consumers, are influenced by luxury brand integrations in reality TV. Considering they lack the economic means to acquire similar brands depicted in the shows, they tend to engage in consumption mimicry, but to their personal and financial detriment.
What should students expect in your classroom?
Students should expect to be challenged to think deeper. I aim to facilitate a learning environment that encourages students to critically analyze advertisements, intended messages, product use, and marketing’s impact on the environment and society. Marketing involves delivering a product or service to fulfill consumer needs, but to what extent? I challenge students to consider all stakeholders and the pros and cons to fully grasp the breadth and depth of marketing.
Students can also expect to find relevant topics. Relevance encourages increased student engagement and a positive and meaningful learning experience. Pop culture artists and musicians (Beyonce, Jay Z, Taylor Swift), leading brands (Apple, McDonald’s), new advertising trends, consumer demographic shifts, and industry professionals as guest speakers, all make for great class discussions, case study analysis, and demonstrate the logical connection between course material and real-world examples.
When you’re not teaching, doing research, or writing, what will you be doing?
Travel, live music and festivals are common pastimes of mine. As a southerner, I love college football. Go, Gators! I also enjoy watching documentaries. Mentorship and community service are very important to me. I spend time supporting underserved students with college admissions.
A surprising fun fact: I love and am pretty good at air hockey – so test me!
What attracted you to Merrimack College?
As a consumer culture researcher, my initial attraction reflects the research paradigm of a faculty member. Consumer culture is a niche research field, and I was pleased and excited to learn Merrimack was receptive to it. I felt the institution was genuinely interested in me and how I can contribute to Merrimack. The close proximity to Boston is also attractive, providing opportunities to connect with marketers and lots of leisure activities as well.