MKT. 440



If a little knowledge is dangerous, where
is the man who has so much as to be out
of danger. Thomas Huxley, 1877

Marketing Communications is one of the elective courses offered to students in the marketing option beyond MKT. 304. Effective communication is an essential element in all of the business disciplines, even more so in marketing. This course provides students with an overview of marketing communications, as well as its institutions, subdisciplines and the basics of promotional planning.

The design of the course is based on four observations:

1. For marketing majors, the introductory marketing communications course
is likely to provide the only exposure in their professional education to the
specialized theory, techniques and problems of advertising and promotion.
2. Typically, students who enter this course have completed the lower division
business core requirements and often substantial upper division work as well.
Thus, they are better prepared for a higher level introductory marketing
communications experience than is provided by the typical first course in advertising.
3. Experience suggests that few marketing graduates will practice as specialists in
any of the various functional areas of advertising and promotion. They are more
likely to function as managers who employ the services of advertising agencies
or work with independent professionals such as creatives, researchers, or
media people.
4. A single three-unit course barely provides time to acquaint students with the
foundation material. It does not provide sufficient opportunity to develop the skills
necessary to perform competently in specialized capacities.

Consequently, the course has been developed for upper division marketing majors who will most likely be employed as managers working with promotional specialists. Students from other majors are welcome, and with application, have enjoyed success in the course. This section of MKT. 440 is not a traditional first course in marketing communications.

Students can achieve the following objectives depending on the time and effort they choose to invest:

1. A basic understanding of the economic and behavioral foundations of advertising, public relations and sales promotion.
2. An overview of the nature of promotional institutions and their working arrangements.
3. A fundamental grasp of the promotional planning process including strategy development and the details of the major components of an integrated marketing communications plan.
4. The ability to communicate with the functional specialists of marketing communications.
5. A capacity to learn independently via a working knowledge of the prime sources of new developments in the field.


To achieve these objectives, the course has been designed with the text as the organizing core. It provides the basic structure of the course and the sequencing of topics. The text is supplemented with a list of about 35 (+/-) readings selected from the thoughtful literature of marketing communications. The readings serve one or more of the following four objectives:

The readings are available at the USU Quick Copies. They are revised annually by 20% to 35%. Students might find it useful to share a copy or, if the price is right, to purchase an earlier edition. It can be updated from library materials . Note that virtually all of the articles on the list are contained in journals normally available in the CSUN library, at UCLA and are now conveniently on the web .

Students should bear in mind that authors of text books often devote two or more years to the task of producing a manuscript. Few do so for the sheer joy of the labor. Most are interested in the financial rewards that stem only from sales to a wide market. Publishers consistently note that the largest market segment for advertising/ promotion texts is at the community college level; upper division business programs are the smallest segment. Virtually all of the books in this field appear to have been written for less well prepared audiences than is typical of the students in MKT. 440; hence, the need for augmentation (ie., the reading list).

The present text was selected from a field of five leading books by a panel of students randomly selected from the enrollment of the Spring, 1998 sections. It is so clearly written that with few exceptions students can handle it on their own. This relieves the instructor of the necessity to hand hold students through the text and provides an opportunity to elaborate on topics introduced therein, append additional materials, insert alternate and sometimes contentious points of view as well as to assist students with the outside readings.

Study guides are available to aid students with the readings. The guides form the basis for class discussion of the articles. Study guide discussion dates will be announced from time to time. Students are well advised to thoroughly and independently prepare the study guides prior to the discussion date. In previous semesters, they were provided to students at no charge, however because of current budget restrictions, the guides have been bound into each copy of the readings.

Normally, there is no shortage of handouts in this course. Typically, the handouts are reproduced from the current news literature of the field (Advertising Age, Ad Week, Wall Street Journal, etc.) Most are anecdotal to the mainstream of the course and add a current events flavor. Students will not be responsible for most of this material on examinations. However, some handouts contain lecture outlines, examples or illustrative problems that are essential and thus may turn up on exams.

Essay exams are the norm for this course. They are based on the text as well as topics covered in the lectures and the readings. Except for those classes organized in team format, each section can select an examination regimen
from the following options.

  1. Midterm (50%) + Final Exam (50%)
  2. 2 Midterms (30% + 30%) + Final Exam (40%)
  3. 11 Weekly Quizzes (30%) + Midterm (30%) + Final Exam (40%)

Because most sections choose option #2, two midterms and a final are scheduled in the assignment sheet subject to change based on each section's decision. The dates are close but not exact. Two weeks notice will be given prior to each exam. Though the two midterms are not cumulative, the final is based on the entire course. There are no makeup exams.

NOTE: The exams in this course are computer supported, i.e., students write exams in a lab assigned for that purpose on each of the examination dates. To familiarize students with this procedure as well as the test format, sample exams will be provided on the web several weeks prior to each examination date. Please bring blue books and a pen in case of a network failure.

Plus/minus grading is not employed. The grading criteria are as follows:

Grade Criteria
A80% or higher
B70% to 79.9%
C55% to 69.9%
D50% to 54.9%
F49% and below

The following policy was adopted several years ago and has been favorably regarded by students:
Students achieving an average grade of "B" or higher on the two midterms may be excused from the final examination; those who so elect will receive the course grade earned based on the average of the midterms. This policy does not apply to sections that choose examination option #1.

Though not required, two extra credit options are available to students with at least a "C" grade or higher on each of the midterms. Successful completion will result in an enhancement of the earned grade by one full letter grade. Only one of these may be chosen. Extra credit options available this semester include:

The Campaign Plan: Students choosing this option will be required to prepare and submit a complete promotional plan for a product or service chosen in consultation with the instructor. The plan must include a careful examination of its market, competitive position and its marketing strategy with an analysis of its strengths and weakness. Based on a thorough situation analysis, the plan will identify promotional opportunities, include a statement of measurable objectives, as well as creative and media strategies and tactics. Budgets, measurement and control procedures should also be recommended. The following supplemental texts are available in the bookstore or from other sources:

  • Adams Streetwise Software. Do-It-Yourself Advertising. North Holbrook, MA:
    Adams Media Corporation, 1996.
    Book, A. and C. Schick. Fundamentals of Copy and Layout. Lincolnwood, IL:
    NTC Business Books, 2nd Ed., 1990.
    Taylor, J. How To Write A Successful Advertising Plan. Lincolnwood, IL:
    NTC Business Books, 2nd Ed., 1993.

  • The Media Simulation: The media simulation is a computer assisted media planning model developed at the University of Texas and is tentatively available to us on the web. Though not as sophisticated as commercially available models, it has significant advantages. With the accompanying on line tutorials, it provides users with an excellent introduction to the fundamentals as well as intricacies of media planning and an opportunity for hands-on experience. Students with only moderate computer skills will find the explanations to be readable, and thus it is (with a few exceptions) largely a self teaching device. Arrangements to undertake this porject must be made in consultation with the instructor.

    Additional extra credit opportunities might be available as the semester progresses.

    Grading. Extra credit projects enter the grading system on a credit/no credit basis. They will not be awarded letter grades.

    Consultation/deadlines. Permission of the instructor is required prior to undertaking an extra credit option. It must be obtained no later than the end of the tenth week of class. Stop by during office hours or make an appointment. Completed work must be submitted by the last formal class meeting. Late papers will not be accepted.

    Attendance is strongly advised.

    Consistent with the CSUN Conduct Code, it is expected that students will behave in a mature and courteous fashion. The most elementary standards require arrival in class on time and abstinence from the following activities during the lecture: reading newspapers or magazines, partaking of meals, drinks or snacks, completing homework for this or any other class, socializing and casual conversation. Except for medical reasons, leaving class during a lecture is rude, unacceptable behavior. In rare instances when it might be necessary, the instructor should be notified before the class begins.

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    (Revision of 01/30/99)