Putting your Skills, Knowledge, and Creativity into Action

Our Ad Lab team with Professor Scott Hamula

IMC Seniors take at least one capstone: IMC Lab, AdLab, PR Lab, or Brand Design. These courses tie together everything students have learned—including strategy, theory, media buying, consumer research, presentation design, writing for advertising and PR, and analytics.

In Ad Lab, students spend a semester researching and developing a campaign for a major national brand that sponsors the American Advertising Federation (AAF) National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC). In past years, those brands included JC Penney, Yahoo!, Toyota, and Coca-Cola, and in 2019, the client was Wienerschnitzel. The goals were to improve the image of hot dogs and increase overall sales. Students in the course developed a marketing communications plan and then pitched their work to advertising professionals at the district, semifinal, and national levels—and they won!! Read about their exciting national first place win. Ad Lab is taught by Professor Scott Hamula who was named Distinguished Advertising Educator of the year in 2019 by the American Advertising Federation.

In PR Lab, students work with real clients from the Ithaca region, such as a local ceramics studio, an ice cream company, and the Corning Museum of Glass. It's often taught by Professor Arhlene Flowers, who, before coming to IC, was a Senior VP at Ruder Finn, an NYC PR agency where her clients included Air France, Robert Mondavi Wines, and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. Flowers said, “Active experiences with companies and nonprofits are a win-win proposition for all concerned. Students gain valuable experience with real-world clients to build teamwork, develop problem-solving skills that bring class lessons to life, and meet with professionals in various industries for feedback in a supportive environment. Businesses and nonprofits receive free public relations services and future recommendations—and they also learn more about the ‘digital generation,’ which is a target market that many organizations are trying to reach."

Brand Design focuses on the process of building brand identities through logos, fonts, color palettes, sounds, product design, and user interfaces. In today’s competitive business environment, corporations who have a strong brand presence influence customer preference have stronger bottom lines and benefit from higher market valuation. Students build brand identities for fictional organizations in an industry in which they have an interest. Examples have included cafes, bakeries, ice cream shops, restaurants, barber shops, beverages, and non-profit organizations. The final project is producing a Brand Book that not only outlines the research and strategy that went in to the planning, but also the creative executions across the different media.

IMC Lab focuses on developing an integrated marketing program for a client that requires research and development of complex strategies across advertising, PR, and marketing to achieve specific marketing objectives. Students apply key concepts experientially by analyzing cases and engaging with a client to complete a significant marketing project. At the end of this course, students present an integrated and ethical marketing program consisting of marketing strategies, advertising, public relations, and sales promotions. Past projects included developing a new Traditions Challenge to help IC students learn about the college's tradition and to promote loyalty once they are alumni, and participating in a national marketing competition to help Domino's Pizza increase the number of orders placed through their mobile app.

Sample student projects

Cover of ad campaign assignment

Check out this detailed ad campaign created by students in one of our advertising courses for Awake chocolate bars.  You'll see how students are able to integrate their creative and analytical skills to create a complex $12 million campaign.

PR campaign cover page

Students in PR Lab create comprehensive competitive analyses and creative strategies for local clients like this Ithaca-based photographer. Check out their final campaign, full of action-oriented suggestions for events, social media, and other ways to increase awareness of this local business.