Mostly Marketing by Theresa B. Clarke

Sharing my love of marketing. Helping marketing students, marketing practitioners, & marketing professors connect with one another. Passionate about nurturing new marketing talent. Enjoys sharing novel ideas about a wide variety of topics…but mostly marketing.

Thank you to JMU Marketing Alum, Andrew Lux, Champion of “the adidas project”

If you were a student in my Integrated Marketing Communications class between the fall of 2003 and spring of 2009, then you probably recall the name Andrew Lux.  If you don’t recall his name, perhaps “the adidas project” rings a bell.

Andrew was a 2002 graduate of the JMU Department of Marketing and was recognized as the 2001 University Scholar-Athlete of the Year and the 2002 College of Business Outstanding Student in Marketing.  After graduation, he accepted a position at adidas headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany as the Communication Manager for Football (what we call soccer in the U.S.) and Rugby.  Andrew was promoted to Global Advertising Manager and worked in Amsterdam before returning to adidas headquarters as the Senior Football Communication Manager.

During Andrew’s tenure at adidas, we collaborated to create a highly beneficial and reciprocal learning partnership between adidas and JMU.  After drafting confidentiality agreements and figuring out how to assess course learning objectives, we crafted an experiential project for my course.  The project involved students developing integrated marketing communication plans for one of adidas’ real soccer products, the F50.  As students gained real-world experience, adidas gained fresh insights and new ideas about ways to market their products.

Donna Ragsdale Dunn (JMU ’94) wrote a feature story about our first semester working together, “Run with the Big Dogs: Marketing Students Get Real-world Toehold working with Adidas Exec on Top Secret Marketing Shoe“. The article showcased Andrew in the spring 2004 issue of JMU’s Montpelier Magazine as he juggled a soccer ball.

Each semester for the next seven years, Andrew and I tweaked the project so that it would be a different experience for each group of students.  Over the course of 12 semesters we reworked the project to help students experience different challenges as the products moved through introduction, growth, and maturity while facing intense competition from rivals such as PUMA, Nike, and Under Armour.

To this day, I receive emails and phone calls from alums who ask if Andrew and I are still running the adidas project.  My former students often comment on how much they learned, what a memorable project it was, and how it gave them such interesting things to talk about during job interviews.  Some even say that it was a marketing project that best prepared them for the jobs they now do today.  On behalf of my students who benefited from our collaboration and gained exposure to real-world marketing, I wish to thank Andrew for making this experience possible.

I was inspired to write this blog post when I spotted Andrew at a JMU football game recently.  Not only was I absolutely thrilled to see him, but I felt excited to personally share with him what kind of impact he made at JMU.  We owe a debt of gratitude to Andrew for truly making a difference for hundreds of JMU marketing students by collaborating, donating his time, and sharing his expertise.  Thank you Andrew!


Collegiate ECHO Marketing Challenge Advice from the 2015 Bronze Award Team

Several teams of James Madison University participated in the Collegiate ECHO Marketing Challenge as part of my Integrated Marketing Communications (MKTG 384) course.  The Collegiate ECHO Marketing Challenge is sponsored by Marketing EDGE, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to Educate, Develop, Grow, and Employ college students in the field of marketing.

As part of the Challenge each team developed marketing plans, using direct and interactive channels, with a goal of encouraging DIRECTV customers to participate in their Refer-a-Friend Program.  Students also created a visual summary presentation and an online video ad.

In the end, over 200 teams competed and seven JMU Marketing teams earned an award or honorable mention.  One of the JMU teams emerged as the winner of the 3rd Place Bronze Award in the undergraduate division.

I asked this team to share their thoughts about the experience and provide tips to help future competitors.  Here’s what they had to say…


JohnBassfordJohn Bassford –  Starting is the hardest part of this project. To me, it seemed a very daunting task, but as soon as we started working on the project, things began to pick up momentum and the pieces fell into place. Communication is important in order to be successful. Do not be afraid to bounce ideas off of teammates. Even if you think the idea is ridiculous, talk it out with the team. You never know what ideas you will help your teammates create by telling them your ideas. Once you find an idea that you all can get behind, use that idea to keep everything within your plan consistent. There will be some arguing and maybe even some very vocal disagreements, but do not forget that this is a team competition. Be open to each other’s ideas and make sure to communicate between each other to avoid confusion on what needs to be done. Don’t overthink things and make sure everything ties in with your main idea. Before you know it, you’ll end up having a great plan.

AlexAlexander Dixon – Take into account how long it takes to finally settle in on an idea, but make it an idea that will resonate with your audience.   We initially brainstormed many different ideas on specific topics that played to our client’s advantages — in our case it was DIRECTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket.  For example we had a bunch of ideas on the football packages, their refer-a-friend rewards already in place, and other DTV assets.  We then realized that DIRECTV’s major selling point was their NFL Sunday Ticket, so we decided to combine the two to strengthen the refer-a-friend program.  Brainstorming the ideas on the topics separately initially took most of our time.  Once we honed down on our topic we were able to see ideas that we had on different DIRECTV assets. We were able to use them with our final idea which made it inherently better.  The problem with this all was that once we finally found an idea that would work, we had about two weeks left in the semester to actually create the plan, which made us work quickly and under pressure.  So my main piece of advice would be to not underestimate how long it takes to actually come to a solid idea that will stick out to place in the competition.

KevinKevin Harmon – I learned that staying organized and not procrastinating are keys to success. Once you come up with your main idea, have confidence in it and let it fully develop. Don’t veer too far off your original course, there are a lot of moving parts to this project and constantly changing your ideas will cost you lots of valuable time. Last but not least, have fun with it. This is a great opportunity to apply your knowledge from the classroom in a creative way.

KelseyKelsey Jordan Hinkle – I often still think about my group experiences and what I wish I could’ve done differently. While there’s some I remain unsure of as a perfect solution, here’s what I would advise focusing on to fellow marketing majors:

1. Emotional Intelligence.  A successful group begins with knowing yourself, your teammates, and yourself around your teammates. We learned in COB 202 to start group projects by taking the Myers Briggs test – a great tool for developing Emotional Intelligence. However, it wasn’t until Maymester as a senior, after being forced in COB 487, that I realized how beneficial this test is to a groups’ success. I highly recommend knowing your Myers Briggs score and your teammates within the 1st week. You not only discover personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of your teammates, but also this reveals any latent imbalances early-on. So now your team can create a more relevant plan of action to address any potential issues, and also better allocate specific roles/duties. But my favorite part is about this test is how much personal insight you gain, as well as those around you, especially opposite personalities. It explains why you react a certain way to surrounding personalities/situations and how to more effectively control any negative reactions.

2. Logistics.  Go over everything you have to do together. Set up weekly deadlines and stick to them. Google Calendars and Google Drive are lifesavers. Share everything. But, do not overly rely on Google Docs. Don’t assign a task to only one person. Have everyone edit/add writing up until at least 3 days before the due date. Then, pick one person to create a version in Word. Read it aloud slowly together. If there’s something you want changed but no one agrees, change it on your own computer first. Wait for everyone’s approval before changing it yourself. If you want to make a drastic change, be sure to sufficiently back up your ideas. More importantly, don’t be afraid to do so. We actually changed our overall theme less than 2 weeks before the due date, which was incredibly stressful, but worth it.

3. Taking Initiative.  The busyness of the business school, and lack of group rooms, makes procrastinating even more tempting. Do not succumb. Even if “there’s nothing to do” that week, do something. Meet at least once every week for an hour. As a change of scenery, I recommend not meeting in Showker (i.e. the café in Martin’s, Barnes & Noble, Rose Library, etc…)  although, so long as you can find a space, Showker works, too. The issues I faced with most group projects resulted from my own laziness and/or entitlement. When 1 or more members procrastinate, it’s easy to follow suit, especially in the beginning weeks. Start something, even if no one else will. But always try your best to include the team on your work. Regardless of how much more effort you put forth, avoid feeling like you deserve greater control or credit. Vice versa, avoid negative thoughts of what you don’t deserve, whether related to grades or treatment by your teammates. Unfortunately, groups do not work that way, and neither does life.

4. Direct​ Communication​.  The moment you have something you’d like to say to another member,tell them.  Never be afraid of making things worse because, trust me, that rarely happens.  Remaining silent is much more destructive. If you feel uncomfortable telling the person directly, go to your professor as early as possible, not another member of your team.

Thank you to John, Alex, Kevin, and Kelsey for sharing their advice. To summarize their key points:

  • Get started early.
  • Brainstorm and then stay focused on your main ideas.
  • Keep communication lines open within the team.
  • Develop a team plan for completing the plan requirements.

For even more insights, read what the 2014 Bronze Winners from JMU had to say about succeeding in the Collegiate ECHO Marketing Challenge.

JMU Marketing Students Win Americas Region of the 2012 Google Online Marketing Challenge

My first thought upon hearing the news was “Wow.

After the shock wore off and I regained the ability to think clearly again, my second thought was “Wow…JMU has a trio of winning teams.

2012 Google Online Marketing Challenge Americas Regional Winners from JMU

Tara Goode, Rachel Krause, and Nicole Behr are the 2012 Google Online Marketing Challenge Americas Regional Winners

Following a rigorous judging process, Rachel Krause (Team Captain), Nicole Behr, and Tara Goode have been crowned as Americas Regional Winners of the 2012 Google Online Marketing Challenge.   Beating over 11,000 students from 86 countries and territories, Krause, Behr, and Goode earned the top spot in the Americas Region, which consists of North, Central, and South America.   They join an elite group of two other James Madison University teams that previously won this same prestigious title in 2009 and again in 2011.

On their GOMC winners page, Google reported that 2012 was  “the most competitive and diverse pool of teams yet”.  Next month, I have the honor of accompanying our winning JMU team on a site visit to Google’s headquarters (a.k.a., The Googleplex) where they will receive laptops and other great prizes.

I am so proud of the JMU students for performing remarkably well in the Challenge.   They are a talented, hard-working group that knows how to meet the bar when I raise it high.  For example, this year when encouraged to take the Google AdWords Certification Exam at the end of the course, 8 out of 15 students took the exam and passed it.  Other JMU accomplishments are below:

Because the Challenge is such an amazing learning opportunity, I plan to expand this experience beyond the JMU Marketing department.  In September, I will be delivering a special workshop at the Marketing Management Association Fall Educators Conference to share with other marketing professors how to confidently and effectively implement the Challenge in their own classes.  In the spring, I am offering the Google Challenge experience within MBA 678, a special topics course in Online Search Advertising within the Innovation MBA (iMBA) Program at JMU.

Facilitating Achievement in the Google Online Marketing Challenge

On March 30, 2012 I will make a presentation at the Marketing Management Association Annual Conference in Chicago on Facilitating Achievement in the Google Online Marketing Challenge.  My presentation will refer to various resources I use when coaching/teaching  MKTG 490 at James Madison University.  Some of the resources were created by me and some were created by Google.  I wanted to share these resources to help others who want to learn how to teach the Google Online Marketing Challenge.

Note:  I use Google Docs to create many of the “forms” listed below.  One of the nicest features of Google Docs is the ability to review all of the associated form data embedded within Google Docs spreadsheet.  While you are welcome to view the online forms, I can’t share them because I must protect the confidential student data.  Learn how to create forms using Google Docs.

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My Google Challenge Resources

Google’s Challenge Resources

  • Test Study Guide for the course test (basically it is the study guide for the Google Advertising Fundamentals Exam)
  • Good example reports from the 2011 Challenge (Source:
  • Details on the evaluation criteria are in the Competition Guidelines
  • The Google Challenge Guide
  • AdWords Editor makes it easy to update AdWords. Work offline, then upload your changes any time.Make bulk changes (such as updating bids or adding keywords) in just a few steps.  Copy or move items between ad groups and campaigns. Navigate through your account quickly and easily. Circulate proposed changes and get feedback from other users.  Special thanks to Debra Zahay Blatz (Debra Zahay) for providing this information the Google Online Marketing Challenge Facebook Page (an unofficial page associated with the Google Challenge).

I welcome your comments and suggestions for additional resources for this page.

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How to Teach the Google Online Marketing Challenge by Theresa B. Clarke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


The “Blog About Anything” Assignment

Normally, I assign marketing-oriented topics for blogging assignments.   While I have always encouraged my students to write additional blog posts on their own, very few do so.  I presume this is because students have plenty of other activities between school, work, clubs, and friends.

Based on a suggestion from three of my Fall 2010 MKTG 470 students (Patty Caltabiano, Nathan Chua, and Casey Davenport) I created a new assignment for my Strategic Internet Marketing course called “Blog About Anything“.  Patty, Nathan, and Casey recommended that students have an opportunity to blog about anything as one of their graded assignments.  They believed that JMU marketing students would take more ownership of their blog and be more interested in blogging if they could choose the own topic.

So, I gave it a shot and assigned the “Blog About Anything”  activity.  It turned out to be a very successful assignment in several regards.  First, 94% of the students completed the assignment.  I’m always happy when I see a high completion rate.  Second, the grades on the completed assignment were outstanding!  Almost 90% of the students earned full credit.  It is worth mentioning that this assignment was due immediately after spring break when students aren’t normally in their most focused school-mode.  Third, I learned quite a few VERY interesting facts by reading the blogs.  For example:

Thanks to all of my students for sharing their insights and experiences through their recent blog posts.  Below are some great resources for getting started on a “Blog About Anything” assignment:

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