Posts Tagged ‘campaigns’

From the Campaign Battlefront

April 19, 2016


Rest assured, I am not writing a post about the 2016 election (you’re welcome). Rather, I’m reporting on my own mêlée: the exhausting, empowering, sometimes petrifying, but mind-blowingly rewarding human experience that is IMC 636 Campaigns. These last seven weeks and beyond have challenged me in more ways than I could have imagined, but I am seven days away from sending off what has become my most prized piece of work and alas, I can [almost] see the light at the end of the grad school tunnel.

sneak peek

Sneak peek!

For those of you who have achieved your MSIMC degree, perhaps you’re having flashbacks to those final days of scrambling, and for those who have yet to experience it, strap in. I know I’m making 636 sound like some untamable beast, but I assure you that this has been the most gratifying course of my college career. Today, between working full-time, building my IMC campaign, and teaching yoga on the side, I’ve somehow managed to find a free moment for reflection, and this is what I’ve realized:

The phrase, “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life” is a sham. I entered into this program because I love marketing communications, and I suspect that I share this passion with many of you, but I think that we can all agree that it will never not be work. This program, let alone this profession,  is undeniably challenging, and it requires large amounts of attention on a nearly daily basis. But what keeps us in the game is that feeling of pride after a job well done.

I have been eating, sleeping, and breathing IMC for the past month and a half, and not because I have to, but because I want to. Something shifts in you during the capstone course; the more effort you put into your campaign, the more effort you want to put into it. In the dwindling days between me and this due date, I genuinely look forward to sitting down at my computer to continue construction of my personal masterpiece. I’m reveling in the chaos, and that’s how I know I’m doing what I love. So, instead of aiming to never work a day in your life, aim to find something you love so much, you’re willing to work your ass off for it.

Quarter-Life Crisis? Origins Understands.

March 18, 2015

Being a twenty-something is tough… on your skin. At least, that’s the connection Origins is making in an effort to reach women in their 20s with its #QuarterLifeCrisis campaign.



Origins is pushing a new skin renewal serum to twenty-somethings through its Quarter-Life Crisis social media campaign.


The skincare company has embraced the “tongue-in-cheek quandaries” used by the target market on platforms like Twitter to guide its witty approach to the campaign that is designed to promote the launch of the brand’s Original Skincare Renewal serum.





Scroll through Origins’ Twitterfeed and you’ll find quirky, relatable content with humor that is worthy of a retweet.

Does this campaign have longevity, or will it grow old quickly with millennials?


40 Capstone Campaign Tips

January 29, 2015


Research. Research. Archive.

The research process begins long before you start your campaign. During your time in the program, begin to build your own personal marketing and creative aesthetics.


1. Archive marketing campaigns that resonate with you to an Evernote notebook. 

2. Follow thought leaders in the marketing field.

3. Monitor industry trends.


Manage Your Time.

Start the campaign early. Have the branding for your agency established and ready to go before week one commences.


4. Do not procrastinate on any section of the campaign. 

5. Try the Pomodoro Technique to manage your time. 

6. Make goals and deadlines for yourself that you can easily check off. 

7. If you get stuck on one section, build time in your schedule to come back to it. 

8. Take breaks. 

Prepare to Write, Revise, Rationalize, and Design. 

How will you bring your campaign findings to life? Will you rely on writing, design, or a combination of both to engage the client?


9. Think visually. If you can get the point across with a graphic treatment, the client would be more inclined to easily recall the information you are trying to present. 

10. Place extra emphasis on the areas that would be of the utmost importance to the client. This would be areas that would show off your specific expertise. 

11. To help keep the reader engaged, introduce each of your campaign sections. 

12. Add external quotes from thought leaders to add relevancy and credibility to your work. 

13. Think of the needs of your audience. Have you taught them something new? Clients want to pay for cutting edge concepts. 

Plan Your Media.

If terms like programmatic buying, advertising impressions, advertorials, or CPM (i.e. cost per mile) are not part of your vocabulary, you should begin to brush up on the art of media buying.


14. Expand your professional network and befriend a Media Buyer. 

15. Follow the latest media buying trends.

Composition Is Important.

As you put together your campaign, the following elements are important to consider: typography, color, hierarchy, and placement of graphics.


16. A sans serif font (e.g. Arial) is better for body copy because it is more readable and legible. 

17. Limit your color palette (too many colors within a campaign is distracting) 

18. White space is your friend. Let your copy have room to breathe. 

19. Make graphic elements out of important statements. 

20. Use one font family and vary the weights to create hierarchy within your content.

21. Use display fonts sparingly. 

22. Break up large blocks of text with images, charts, or quotes.

23. Think of your entire composition as a grid filled with different elements. 

24.  Make sure everything is visually consistent from the cover page to back cover. 

Use Templates/Resources Wisely.

It is never too early to start to build your familiarity with all available design resources.


25. is a beautiful online survey and form builder.

26. has economically priced royalty free stock photos. 

27. is a creative marketplace for finding designers. The cost, to hire a designer, is only five dollars per execution.

28. Font has 100% free commercial use fonts. 

29. has a gallery of well-designed logos to help inspire you. 

30. Adobe Color CC generates color schemes. 

31. Small PDF  is a tool to reduce the size of your PDF. 

32.  Graphic River – Stock Graphic Files.

33. Grammarly – Free editing plugin for Chrome.

34. Hemingway Editor – Editor application for Mac and PC.

35. – is a search tool that identifies online key influencers and trending content.

Presentation Is Everything.

The last step, before printing out your final campaign, is to account for all of the print production nuances.


36. Paper Weight – Be sure to ask for a house paper that has enough weight for printing double sided. You do not want the graphics to oversaturate the paper. 

37. Binding Types – Perfect Bound, Wire-O Binding, and Comb Binding are the most universally used. 

38. Orientation – Will you be presenting your project horizontally or vertically? Can your printer accommodate a non-traditional size? 

39. Bleed – Most printers will not be able to account for graphics bleeding off the page. Build a white border around your pages so that the edges look consistent when printed. 

40. Back Cover – Will you include a blank page in your document after your references section? Will the back page match your cover? 


Graduates, please add any other helpful tips that you found useful to this list!


Congratulations to the Fall 2014 Capstone class on completing the WVU IMC program!  Best of luck to the Spring 2015 Capstone class! 








Absolut Advertising.

July 7, 2014

Yet another book calls my coffee table home. Welcome to the family, Absolut Book.

Ever since Bill Oechsler mentioned the rich history behind the award-winning Absolut Vodka advertising campaign during his “Creative Strategist | Strategic Creative” session at Integrate 2014, I’ve been tempted to add the book to my Amazon cart.

I finally caved. And I’m glad I did.

Absolut Book. is a visual reminder of how well-executed, simple ideas can endure. The campaign’s nods to cities and film are just some of many creative Absolut applications. Cultural references communicated through an essentially three-formula ad consisting of bottle+Absolut+[other term] seem endless.


I appreciate brands that consider their audiences smart enough to connect the dots in ads- i.e., a Vespa-disguised vodka bottle…


This one took a few seconds to grasp- something the Absolut Vodka creative team worried about when they designed the ad.


Citizen Kane fans, rejoice.


Want a look at some of the ads that never hit print? This book has some of those “Absolut rejects,” too. As the author explains, there are a variety of reasons such ads haven’t received approval.*

When do campaigns reach the point when they become cultural fixtures in their own right? And does anyone else miss Integrate?!


*I’ll let you discover those when you read the book!

INTEGRATE2014: Lessons learned from Bill Oechsler

May 31, 2014

The last session of the conference was a little bittersweet. The conference has been absolutely fantastic and even though it’s not quite over, the information I’ve learned has made my mind race and my reading list double. I am very excited to apply all of this phenomenal information to projects in my IMC world.

The last breakout session I attended was Bill Oechsler’s, and it was fantastic. Just like with Lee Odden’s session, a recap of the information is not possible in such a small space.

One of the most beneficial parts for me was the insight provided by Bill on the Absolut campaign. For me, I’ve enjoyed watching the campaign grow because I’m a photography fan. The way that Absolut captured viewers through strong photography and simplistic ads is a great reminder that simple isn’t a bad thing. Much like the presentation from Joe Barns told us, give customers options, but not too many. We don’t want to overwhelm our customers. Simple, well executed ideas can go far.

The beauty of the campaign is also that it has legs. The product and packaging are the hero of the story. The ads focus entirely on Absolut and it has been marketed in a simplistic, authentic way.

Bill shared great examples from Absolute, Apple, and more with the emphasis of simplicity and creating campaigns that move. Simple and authentic make a great pair.


What are your favorite simple campaigns? What sticks with you?

The 24-Hour Challenge

February 27, 2014

When my friend Grace told me she signed up for a 24-hour design challenge to benefit a nonprofit project, I immediately had two reactions: jealousy* and doubt. Is it even possible to design and begin to implement a quality campaign –including every branding and web presence element you can imagine-  in one day’s time?

It is.

health race

Photo Credit: The Great Health Race

The 2014 Louisiana “Design-A-Thon” sponsored by Doublet Media presented the nearly 20 challenge participants with the New Orleans Council for Community & Justice’s youth wellness program, “The Great Health Race.” The program plans to educate and empower middle and high school students of New Orleans to pursue health-conscious lifestyles, according to “The Great Health Race” website– a site developed during the design-a-thon, of course! Health advocacy through student leadership is another core aspect of the program.

Split into design, development, and public relations teams, those in the design-a-thon spent a day relying on their creative talents to form the campaign’s elements.

Inspiring. That’s one of the words Grace used to describe the experience.

The design-a-thon is a perfect example of what can happen when skill and collaboration meet. Although the experience was inspiring in itself for my friend, it also moved me to pass along the torch of inspiration to readers of this blog.

What causes can we contribute our talents toward? Simply promoting awareness of worthy projects can help – and it only takes a minute.




Tweet: #GreatHealthRace

Thanks to Grace for sharing her experience! Check out her personal blog, change ya mind. change ya life.


*We live over 1,000 miles away from each other. Not convenient. Maybe West Virginia and Louisiana could move closer together?

Capstone Survival Tips

December 5, 2013

Halfway up the mountain

WVU IMC students who attend the INTEGRATE 2014 conference will have an opportunity to attend an IMC 636 Capstone workshop and get survival/success tips from course professors and recent graduates. As a current Capstone student, I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to come up for air and offer some advice for students who aren’t able to attend the conference or will be taking the course next semester. You’ll notice that most of the points are things that students can do now. Don’t wait until the Capstone begins to get your act together.

Review the Student Portfolio page. The Student Work page of the IMC website offers a video overview with the IMC Curriculum Developer Kristen Wilkerson and a gallery of previous projects. Don’t neglect to click on students’ names to read the various Capstone Experience sections. Renny Zackman notes under his project, “Students need to approach the course with the expectation that they will be living and breathing the workload for nine weeks.” Sentiments like these are exactly right and will help mentally prepare you for the journey.

Organize your previous coursework. I’m a fairly organized person, but my biggest pre-Capstone regret is not having a unified system for all my lessons, assignments, notes, articles, and all those helpful links that professors and classmates share throughout the program. I started out printing everything and putting it into binders, jotting ideas onto notebook pages, and saving links in my browser Favorites folder. I credit my program experience with upgrading me to digital and cloud-based organization, and even my local folders are arranged more logically. However, I didn’t go back and “fix” the beginning, so I’m all over the place chasing down previous coursework. As you learn better organization systems, consider investing some free time to reorganize older notes and files.

Keep up with your books. This may be a no-brainer to some, but I think it’s worth mentioning. Know where ALL your IMC books are, and resist the urge to sell them back to the bookstore or to Amazon. I found one of my early IMC books packed away in my garage (what was I thinking?) and I still need to flip my house upside down to locate another. (Even as I write this I keep looking at my bookshelf ready to tear it apart to find that book!)

Brush up on Microsoft Word. I’m still working through this issue, but making a project look “pretty” using Word is a bit of a challenge if you’re used to using Adobe or other design software. So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised at what Word can do and how simple commands can make the project more visually compelling, but I recommend getting past that learning curve before the Capstone begins.

Clear your calendar. I admit that I’m a bit of a calendar junkie and like filling it up with stuff. As such, I probably went into the Capstone with still too many obligations, but I tried to be purposeful about clearing my social calendar. I did make allowances for Thanksgiving weekend and my son’s birthday, but I definitely felt the pinch (still no regrets, though). Don’t feel bad about being selfish over this last nine weeks. I blatantly pulled a Flava Flav on my side of the family. I can’t do nothin’ for ya, man. To add to the rudeness but to accomplish the survey research and a focus group, I even had to set an expectation for friends/family to help me. I can’t do anything for YOU for nine weeks, but I need everyone on deck to help ME.

I know that some of this sounds exaggerated, but you really do need to master time management for the Capstone. Reserve some free time to spend with your significant other and/or kids, and give your brain some downtime to rest and get creatively recharged. Remember that every extra commitment you make (other than work obligations) will take hours or even a full day away from your project.

Read everything upfront and make a project management schedule. Don’t wait until week 7 to read the Week 7 Assignment. When you start the Capstone, read through all the coursework and any extra documents from your professor. This will give you time to get over the shock, digest everything and plot an estimated timeline. Nathan Pieratt, a Spring 2013 Capstone student, notes, “To stay on top of the deadlines I had to create a set schedule to touch some aspect of the project every day.”

I’m still plugging away and have a little over 2 weeks (yikes) to become 100% enlightened, so if any other current or former Capstone students have any additional points for future students, please post a comment. I’ll also be happy to field any questions from other IMC students.

Two weeks left!

May 6, 2013


Wasn’t it just March and we were entering Late Spring? Wow! Being enrolled in Capstone has really made time fly.

Don’t get me wrong, the past seven weeks have been tough but do-able. I sit here looking at my list of what’s left to accomplish for my final project and its long, but I have a good grip on how to handle it.

When I’m having a moment of uncertainty, I always remind myself of all the classes and all the projects I’ve completed over the past three years. My neighbor once commented on how she can easily spot me when I’m on my computer, and the heavy frequency she spots me. Schoolwork has become a part of my life and I dedicate whatever time is needed to complete a project. Capstone is no different.

I went out of town for work last week and it was the best opportunity imaginable…perfect timing for sure!  I put in extra time on the discussion board prior to leaving which allowed me to really stay focused on the trip and why I was there. I arrived home with an uncluttered mind and was able to be productive.

This past weekend, I volunteered at a fundraiser in Akron, Ohio and about half way through, I realized I had gone the whole afternoon without thinking about school.

Sure, this sounds weird, but I’ve had countless dreams about the project over the past seven weeks, so giving myself a break, whether it be for an hour or a few days is really rewarding. Just like all the classes and projects, the indescribable feeling of pushing the submit button and receiving a good grade masks the stress.

What is your process to complete a large task?

Capstone Survival Techniques from IMC Graduate Dain McQuarrie

April 11, 2013

Capstone might be a noun used to describe a point, element, or an event, but for IMC graduate students working diligently towards completing their M.S. in IMC, this word represents the end of a journey and the beginning of an exciting future marked by a professional designation.

With only five classes left in my academic journey and a free summer semester almost upon me, I have begun thinking about how I can prepare for my final IMC semester. Dain McQuarrie, an IMC graduate, provided me Capstone survival techniques.


Personal branding takes time to define and craft your personal mantra. With my final semester looming, I should use my time wisely to define my personal brand before branding my final Capstone project with an unresolved identity.

If you are not a designer, begin to find one who is both passionate and able to deliver strong executions that will elevate and complement your final body of work.

For Designers, brushing up on Adobe InDesign shortcuts and basic layout design principles will expedite the design process.

Attention to detail is vital when it comes to choosing the physical portfolio that will encase and bind all of your hard work. An understanding of what exists out in the marketplace is crucial because of the cost and time factors involved. Many stylistic options exist, but the execution and time involved in the binding process can make or break the final execution.

Take it from someone who graduated from design school and used a steel 13×19 grommet portfolio that was held together by extenders. You do not want to end up with a body of work that will not close because your page count ran away with you, or that you did not account for the binding margin in the design. What might seem like minor choices made in the final days/ hours of a semester may define your body of work as unprofessional.

Additional Consideration:
Binding Types


Leveraging project management tools requires a distinct understanding of the breadth of the platform. For a structured procrastinator like myself, I am always in need of tools that will help to keep me on track. Evernote is a tool mentioned by IMC graduate Jose Huitron that helped him compile all of his Capstone research.

Flipboard is a tool that I leverage that allows me to create and archive all industry articles related to Integrated Marketing into one magazine. In addition, I use Pinterest and Google Alerts as tools to archive branding and integrated marketing images and links.

During the course of your time in the program, it is only to your advantage to create your own personal digital library filled with articles that you could leverage later.

The final project during your Capstone semester will require you to look back on all the lessons you have been taught during the IMC program. If you have taken the time to print lessons and the suggested supplemental readings, begin to locate and dust off those resources. If you have not been saving content from classes, correct that behavior now by printing and archiving any and all content. One late night you will be happy that you have your highlighted notes by your side when preparing an all inclusive media plan!

Additional Consideration:
Citation Manager

One of the benefits of a final capstone project is that former students reveal their best practices. A big thank you goes out to Dain for providing his valuable insight! If you have any other tips and suggestions, please share below!