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Medill announces new international award to recognize innovation in teaching integrated marketing communications

Don Schultz Award honors longtime marketing leader, ‘father of IMC’

September 7, 2021
Don Schultz
Long-time Medill Professor Don Schultz played a pivotal role in creating the field of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) and establishing the IMC department at Medill in the early 1990s.

EVANSTON, ILL. -- Nominations are being accepted for the inaugural Don Schultz Award for Innovation in Teaching, Theory and Practice of Integrated Marketing Communication, presented by Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communication.

This international award is open to university faculty and marketing professionals who have demonstrated excellence in teaching the principles of IMC and bridging the gap between the academic and commercial arenas.

Nominations and applications for the award are being accepted now through Oct. 29.

A committee of Medill faculty and industry experts will review nominations this fall. The winner will receive a cash prize of $5,000 and give a presentation on their work in Spring 2022.

The award is named for long-time Medill Professor Don Schultz. Schultz played a pivotal role in creating the field of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) and establishing the IMC department at Medill in the early 1990s. Medill was the first school to offer a graduate degree in Integrated Marketing Communications in the United States. Schultz is regarded internationally as the “father of IMC.” He died in 2020.

“Marketing scholars from all over the world who are developing new customer-centric frameworks and using novel technologies to communicate with customers, society and even whole markets to drive financial performance are encouraged to apply for this award,” said Vijay Viswanathan, Medill professor and associate dean of IMC. “We believe the award will help bring together IMC teachers, scholars and practitioners from around the world, and it will highlight the best practices in IMC and serve as an authoritative learning forum for the global IMC community.”

Schultz advocated for a marketing communication strategy that began with the customer’s perspective, that adopted a holistic view of media and communications planning across various channels and which could be linked to performance in the marketplace. This was a significant change from the dominant communication paradigms at that time where public relations, direct marketing and brand management efforts were disjointed and often with little or no accountability.

Marketers all over the world heeded his call and agencies and companies set up whole IMC departments.

While IMC like other fields has evolved, the core principles that Schultz espoused remain fundamental to the study and practice of IMC even today. Those principles include:

  • An unwavering focus on providing solutions and value to customers.
  • Achieving synergy and integration across all communication activities.
  • Media neutral planning and effective use of all relevant brand touchpoints.
  • Reliance on behavioral data to understand customer motivation, guide strategy development and measure outcomes.
  • Understanding how brand perceptions shape customer behaviors.
  • Executing communication activities for specific markets in meaningful ways while staying true to an overall integrated brand strategy.
  • Interactivity and ongoing customer-marketer relationships.
  • Emphasis on financial outcomes measured in terms of customer response, repeat purchases and brand asset value.

The winner will be selected by a committee that includes Jeanie Caggiano, EVP/executive creative director at Leo Burnett; Judy Franks, Medill assistant professor; Tariq Hassan, chief marketing and digital experience officer at McDonald’s; and Shekar Swamy, group CEO of RK Swamy BBDO.

To nominate someone for the Schultz Award, please visit this application. Additionally, individuals may nominate themselves for the award and submit letters of support from colleagues. The winner and finalists will be announced in January.

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