Richard Lutz holds a drill and a textbook.

Drilling into marketing

With a good-natured grin, Peter S. Sealey PhD Professor of Marketing Richard J. Lutz stalked between desks in his Marketing 101 classroom. Every student in the packed auditorium leaned forward, curious to see what he’d do with the electric drill in his hand.

Suddenly, he brought the drill down on the textbook of an unsuspecting student, boring a hole right through its pages.

“People don’t buy quarter-inch drills,” he quoted Ted Levitt above the room’s excited laughter. “They buy quarter-inch holes.”

For more than 30 years, Lutz demonstrated this fundamental concept, leaving holes in the lectern and in his textbook, surreptitiously passed to a student before class. He estimates that over 100,000 students have taken his course, and that the drill is likely the most memorable bit (no pun intended).

Richard Lutz While Lutz taught Marketing 101 for over 30 years, he’s been a faculty member at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business for 42 years. Previously, he taught at Illinois State University, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign – where he completed his undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees in marketing – and the University of California – Los Angeles. Warrington’s rising marketing department prompted him to further his career in Florida, and he and his wife, Rachel, were happy to trade the sprawl of Los Angeles for Gainesville’s collegiate environment.

“Teaching has always been exciting for me because it is an avenue through which I can influence students’ lives in a positive way,” he said. “The ‘basics’ of teaching can be thought of as providing information about various aspects of marketing, but that is not sufficient. My goal has been inspiration, encouraging students to become more passionate about marketing and their own career objectives.

“The pinnacle for me, however, is transformation, wherein a student’s career path is significantly altered due to my course. For example, someone who decides to switch their major to marketing. I am particularly proud of the fact that there are at least a dozen marketing professors around the United States who took my course as an undergrad, conducted research with me and ultimately decided to pursue their [doctorate]. That is probably my most enduring legacy as a professor.”

Currently, Lutz teaches graduate courses in marketing, including Building and Managing Brand Equity (MAR6335) and Brand Management (6838). Giving students the opportunity to put their knowledge to the test, he implements a brand audit project in both courses in which students select and analyze a national brand, conducting research to inform their recommendations on how to improve brand equity.

“In my graduate courses, I strive to be the ‘guide on the side’ rather than the ‘sage on the stage,’” he said. “Students learn best when they are active participants, ‘co-creating’ the value they extract from the course.”

Lutz has been awarded the Warrington College of Business Teacher of the Year Award six times and was named the 2010 American Marketing Association Irwin/McGraw-Hill Distinguished Marketing Educator, the association’s highest honor for service and outstanding contributions in marketing education. In addition to teaching, he serves as the Chair of Warrington’s Marketing Department and co-edits the Journal of Consumer Research, the flagship consumer behavior journal. He reviews manuscripts for several other journals, as well, and somehow still has time to work on multiple research projects with his colleagues and former students.

“An interesting characteristic of academic life is the constantly changing array of challenges and learning experiences,” he shared. “Every day is different. I love the variety of activities I participate in, though I need to learn how to say ‘no’ more often.”

Off campus, Lutz’s life revolves around his family, he says. His two sons, both UF graduates, live in town, and Lutz and his wife enjoy being grandparents to their “future Gators.” Together, they’ve visited several National Parks, Yosemite being Lutz’s personal favorite. When he can’t get to the mountains, though, he goes to the seaside.

“I used to play a lot of racquetball until my knees wouldn’t cooperate any longer, so I work out regularly and take long walks on the beach at St. Augustine when I can,” he said. “I also enjoy reading mystery novels on my Kindle while I ride my Peloton (note the subtle product placements!).”

Through his life and career, Lutz keeps a quote from President Dwight Eisenhower in mind: “Take your job seriously, but not yourself.” The quote reminds him of his roots, he says: a farm in Illinois with a down-to-earth family. While he certainly takes his job seriously, maintaining a sense of humor helps him stay grounded and keep things in perspective.

Though he doesn’t teach with a drill in hand anymore, Lutz continues to contribute to the sphere of marketing, driven to raise up the next generation of professionals and educators.

Richard Lutz poses with GUS statue.