By Ali Parisi
MS Public Relations ’16
BU College of Communication
If you’re still looking to add another class to your fall schedule, CM 726 Strategic Brand Solutions, could be something to consider. This advertising course takes a current look at marketing communications issues and the impact these issues have on brands and their audiences.
“It used to be called problem solving,” according to Professor John Verret, who has been teaching the course for the past 17 years. “That’s what it is: looking at problems and then looking at the way brands have solved them and the way brands haven’t solved them, and thinking about what they might do.” The problems come from a wide range of areas, whether it is a distribution problem, quality problem, or new market problem. For the most part, the issues are usually about the way consumers react to brands and brand messaging.
These problems are examined in case studies of various brands and organizations. Prof. Verret chooses mostly current examples, a lot coming from The Wall Street Journal (required reading for the course). Other case studies are classic examples and still very applicable today. One such older case study is Where the Suckers Moon: The Life and Death of an Advertising Campaign. The book looks at Subaru and how advertising nearly killed this brand, which, according to Verret, is one of the greatest brands that has been around forever and isn’t going anytime soon. “The objective is to learn as much about strategies that work and strategies that don’t work,” says Verret.
After 17 years of teaching this course, a lot has changed. However, Professor Verret claims that the most important things remain essentially the same. “Everything has changed about advertising except human nature,” says Verret.
If this course doesn’t already sound interesting, then consider the benefits. “One of the things people tell us they like about their kids is that they’ve learned a little bit about critical thinking,” adds Verret. “That’s what I want: critical thinkers.” Not only do students study concrete examples of the marketing communications industry, but they also develop skills that make them more attractive to employers.
I immediately became interested in this class when I read the course description. Now I’m registered to take it and excited to see what’s in store this fall!