Blaze Burger just a warm-up for BHS DECA students

DECA members and seniors in Meggan Malone’s advanced marketing class at Burnsville High School include, from left, Joe McGraw, Shelby Hamblin, Talon DeWitz, Riley Robertson, Sam Dimmen, Justin Clark, Adam Saba, Mayowa Lekuti, Andrew Suel and Taylor Smith. Photo by John Gessner

The Blaze Burger takes some work to finish and even to fathom, depending on your appetites.

“It’s spicy,” said Sam Dimmen, a DECA member and senior at Burnsville High School, for which the burger is named. “It’s got jalapenos and pepper jack cheese. It’s got a fried egg on it.”

The Blaze Burger will be available during October at the Burger Jones restaurant in the Aurora Village Mall south of County Road 42 and east of County Road 5 in Burnsville.

BHS DECA members have more than a mealtime interest in the bold burger. For every one sold during October, Burger Jones will donate $1 to BHS DECA.

The fund-raiser is part of a partnership between Burger Jones and its parent company, Parasole, and DECA, a co-curricular club  whose mission is helping prepare students for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.

DECA, an international  association formerly known in the United States as Distributive Education Clubs of America, was absent from BHS for more than 20 years before business education teacher Meggan Malone revived it last year.

Now seniors in her advanced marketing class, who are also DECA members, are putting their skills to the test in a pair of projects with Burger Jones and Parasole.

The first is promoting the $10 Blaze Burger. The second is designing an ad campaign for Burger Jones that the students will be able to submit for the state DECA competition.

“That’s really going to be the big project,” Malone said. “The students are going to have to be really creative and think on a different level. That’s why we’re getting our feet wet with this (Blaze Burger) promotion.”

Their goal is sales of 15 Blaze Burgers a day. (Customers will be able to pick and choose from among all the exotic toppings, DECA member Joe McGraw noted.)

“We’re going to use this homecoming week (Sept. 17 to 22) as a big way to advertise it,” Dimmen said.

Social media, banners and possibly lawn signs and homecoming-game car flyers were being planned.

“We want to especially get to the parents,” DECA member Taylor Smith said. “They’re the ones taking their kids out to dinner and wanting to support their schools.”

The seniors were recently visited in class by a Parasole team that included Amber Helman, a manager at the Burnsville Burger Jones; Kip Clayton, Parasole’s vice president of marketing; Donna Fahs, a senior operations executive who oversees Burger Jones and other Parasole restaurant brands; and Sarah Nerison, marketing manager and social-media guru for Parasole Restaurant Holdings.

“Getting DECA kids closer to the reality of what it’s like to have to sell something is, to me, pretty exciting,” Clayton said.

Once the Blaze Burger campaign is finished, “I’m going to work with them to kind of write a business plan for the next year, which takes much more of a broad-based view of what the restaurant is and what the challenges and opportunities are.”

Burger Jones is a little edgy, not a button-down brand, Clayton said.

“I think Burger Jones is such an engaging brand for the kids,” he said. “It kind of fits into their sense of humor.”

The students’ marketing plan for the restaurant will run the gamut from identifying the target market to selecting advertising media and writing a budget. It will include setting sales goals and writing and delivering an executive summary.

“The students don’t even realize they’re learning a ton as they put all this together,” Malone said. “People do this for a job. If some of the ideas are good, they (Parasole) are going to use them.”