Written for COMM 462 - Integrated Marketing Communications with Ann Stone.
“EVERYTHING COMMUNICATES.” – Ann Stone
Two words, so impactful and so true. If anything, they sum up everything I’ve learned.
To say that this course has opened my eyes is an understatement. I was enamored with the world of advertising from the minute I laid my eyes on the colorful billboards that dotted my hometown. When it came time to pick a major, I finally settled on Marketing simply because it seemed like a natural choice. But at the same time it seemed foolish, crazy even to commit myself to this world which I knew so little about. I always tell people the main reason I decided to major in Marketing is because I wanted to get into the world of advertising. There was something about advertising that captured my interest, but deep down I knew that my knowledge of the field was next to non-existent. That’s why this term I told myself that I’d absorb everything like a sponge about this world I’ve embraced.
It was hard to say the least, to come to terms with the fact that “being creative” wasn’t necessarily our job. In any marketing campaign, I won’t always be the person who gets to do the creative work like shoot videos and do print material. I’ve always prided myself on being creative (in an artistic sense at least), so this was a hard pill to swallow. But then throughout the course I began to realize that it is really difficult to convey a good idea, so being able to communicate it in a compelling and engaging way requires one to flex their creative muscles as well. While I may not always be the one actually getting to do the fun artistic stuff, there are tons of ways to express one’s creativity. I’m a firm believer of putting myself in the shoes of other people to understand them better, and learning about the creative process gave me a better perspective on things.
It seemed like such a simple insight, but the importance of knowing whom you’re talking to matters so much. That’s why the best campaigns aren’t necessarily the flashiest or prettiest, they’re the ones that are profound, thoughtful and engaging on a deeper level. Knowing who your target audience is helps make the resulting communication much more natural, as if I were having a regular conversation with some soccer moms on the virtues of Tide or someone looking to take an English-language proficiency test.
The one area though I had the most fun with throughout the term was coming up with target audience personifications. For our Pitch, I was the one who came up with the idea of having Yao Ling as our “guy”. Adding the small details, like having Yao Ling be a volunteer badminton coach and having him send money back to his family were all things I believed made him a more relatable person. I found that it was the smaller details that really brought the story to life and made it more believable, easier to convey.
Before coming into IMC, I figured that I’d make a career in the ad world creating catchy slogans and designing memorable posters, poring over even the smallest visual details. Little did I know that there is so much more to making a successful marketing campaign – all good campaigns have a diverse group of people backing up its success. This is why the lecture on the “innards” of an agency was completely mind-blowing for me: there were so many possibilities for a career in advertising outside of account services (which was all I knew). I always held the misguided notion that to break into the semi-glamorous world of advertising, I had to start from the bottom rung – and this meant working in account services. But after learning about all the other people who keep an agency afloat like account planners and media buying people, I realized that there are definitely other areas I can apply myself to. IMC has been an amazing learning experience: it’s clarified my career aspirations and what I want to do in the future. It’s taught me to become a better communicator, and a better marketer overall.
In IMC I have been proven wrong on nearly every account. All the preconceived notions I had about marketing and advertising in general were shattered. And I love it.