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University Bulletin

Undergraduate Degree Programs

Communications (COMM)

COMM 320 Introduction to Advertising (3) Advertising management in business, including communication theory; common industry practices; basics of copy, media, and budget decision; and environmental influences. A student may not receive credit for both COMM 320 and MKTG 322.

COMM 320 Introduction to Advertising (3)

 COMM 320 introduces students to the advertising industry and provides a foundation for understanding what advertising is and how it developed to its current state, what it tries to accomplish, how it works, and how it can affect society. The class includes numerous examples of advertising, from the 1880s to the 2010s, to illustrate the topics covered. The goal is have students think more clearly and critically about the commercial actors behind advertising, their strategic objectives, how advertising messages help achieve specific marketing goals, and the possible social impacts. This course provides the basis for all further courses students take in the advertising sequence.
During the course students: learn the basic concepts and vocabulary essential to the fields of advertising and brand promotion; understand the process and effects of advertising and brand communications; are introduced to the strategic and conceptual decisions advertisers face when deciding the best way to both say and deliver a message within the public marketplace; learn the landscape of the advertising industry, including understanding how the industry works and how it is organized; understand current trends in the advertising and marketing industries, and examine their implications for both industry and society; are exposed to the history and role of professionals and institutions in shaping communications; gain an understanding of the diversity of groups in a global society in relationship to communications.
Specific topics covered in the course include definitions of marketing, advertising, and integrated marketing communication (IMC). Students learn what it means to be a brand, as well as how brand equity is developed by marketers. The fundamentals of brand positioning are also explored, in the context of brand promotion and evolution. The psychological processes that underlie persuasive commercial messages are explored. The differences between subliminal and non-conscious routes to persuasion are presented and discussed.
The course also includes a review of promotional activities outside of traditional advertising, including public relations, direct marketing, personal selling and sales promotions. The role of social media and other online communications in the promotional mix are explored. The legal and ethical dimensions of commercial communication are outlined. Students are asked to think critically about the implications of marketing harmful products, selling to susceptible target audiences, using controversial appeals and the perpetuation of negative stereotypes.
Students’ understanding of course content is assessed by three multiple-choice exams and four online quizzes.


General Education: None
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Spring 1989
Prerequisite: fourth-semester standing

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.