The Teaching of Advertising Management: Essential, Elective, or Extraneous

By Stuhlfaut, Mark W.; Davis, Craig | Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, Autumn 2010 | Go to article overview

The Teaching of Advertising Management: Essential, Elective, or Extraneous


Stuhlfaut, Mark W., Davis, Craig, Journalism & Mass Communication Educator


The practice of advertising takes creative, media, and other skills, but management is the determining discipline for developing advertising campaigns. This study investigated the teaching of advertising management at U.S. colleges/universities, by examining school Web sites, analyzing course syllabi, and surveying educators. More than half of advertising or IMC programs studied do not have a management course. The diversity of course names, goals, and texts indicates a loose understanding of the essential elements. The place of a management course within the curriculum is discussed, including coordination in teaching the subject with other departments.

Advertising entails the use of various media-related strategies and tactics by which companies initiate and maintain communications with customers, prospects, and influential third parties.1 Control and coordination of such advertising are accomplished through management, which has been defined at its most basic level as "getting the work done through others."2 Management is critical to planning, developing, and implementing integrated marketing communication campaigns, and advertising managers inside companies and the account managers in advertising agencies are charged with bringing advertising ideas to life across a full-spectrum of communication channels to meet business objectives within the constraints of resources, time, and budget.3 An advertising position that requires managerial responsibilities is particularly appealing to students who plan to enter the workforce.4 The job of account executive, a key management position in advertising agencies, has been found to be the target occupation of almost half of the undergraduate students surveyed by the American Advertising Federation (AAF) for its National Student Advertising Competition,5 and 45% of the entry-level advertising jobs have been found to be concentrated in account management.6

The teaching of management, therefore, would seem to be an important part of education, if universities/ colleges are to prepare students for careers in the field. Management is a subject that fits well with other related classes, such as research, creative, media, and planning.7 A few institutions have gone as far as to offer a management track that includes several courses. While the teaching of creative, research, media, and planning aspects of advertising campaign development has received considerable attention in academic literature,8 the teaching of advertising management has not received much attention during the past ten years. This observation parallels a finding that management, as a distinct subject, has been absent from advertising curricula. Barnes and Lloyd found that advertising curricula primarily focused on three fundamental advertising subjects: media, research, and creative." Robbs and Lloyd, however, after noting that the job function of an account manager has changed in recent years, identified the key management skills needed by advertising account managers, such as a deeper understanding of business, a broader background in media, and the ability to think creatively. Robbs and Lloyd's study led to a call for changes in the curricula to "prepare students for successful careers in this critical area of the agency."10 Their study, however, provided only a partial assessment of the situation because it considered the management function only from the agency side of the business and not the client or corporate side.

This study is a move to fill the void about the teaching of this critical subject. Management is more than the coordination of existing elements; it is planning, strategizing, and evaluating the entire advertising process and its subsidiary functions. Advertising management not only is relevant for agencies, but it is also relevant for corporations and organizations, and, therefore, it is relevant for students - the industry's future practitioners. The objective of this study is to extend the Robbs and Lloyd work11 by investigating how management currently is being taught in advertising programs within journalism and communications areas of study at the undergraduate level in U.

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The Teaching of Advertising Management: Essential, Elective, or Extraneous
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