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EC 232 - Advertising


This guide ties in with the class assignment to analyze the marketing communications program of a particular company. Start your research by gathering background information on your company and its industry, including market strategies, recent industry dynamics, and company performance statistics. Then investigate the company's marketing communications program by exploring its website and searching for informative articles from magazines, newspapers, and trade publications. If you need further assistance, please stop by the Reference Desk in person or pose your question online at Ask a Librarian.


Company Analysis

Before exploring a company's integrated marketing communications (IMC) program, it is critical to learn more about the company itself. This requires gaining an understanding of the company's recent performance, target markets, organizational structure, and distribution system, among other factors. But it is also important to evaluate the company's place in its industry and learn about recent and forecasted industry-level developments that may shape the company's IMC strategy. The following resources will provide you with this foundational information.

Company Profiles

Company Profiles [found in Business Source Premier]
This database includes Datamonitor reports on individual companies within your sector, which include histories, SWOT analyses, and revenue analyses. To access company reports, click Company Profiles and type the company's name into the "Browse for" box.

Company Profiles [found in LexisNexis]
LexisNexis Academic provides a full range of resources for business information, including company profiles from authoritative sources like Hoover's and Investext. Use the menu on the right-hand side to select "Company Profiles", then type in the company's name and select the source(s) whose reports you wish to review.

Standard and Poor's Stock Reports [found in NetAdvantage]
To learn more about the recent performance and future outlook of your company and its competitors, search for their S&P Stock Reports. Click on the Companies tab, select "Stock Reports" as the Publication, and search for the company either by name or ticker symbol.

Company Annual Reports

Annual Report Gallery
A one-stop source for the latest annual reports of over 2,000 companies, searchable by company name, industry, or sector.

Individual Company Websites
To find annual reports or financial statements (i.e., the Form 10-K) on a company site, look for tabs labeled "Investors", "Investor Relations", or "Corporate Information". For retail companies, you will need to dig past their sales-oriented homepages to find their corporate page. For companies that are subsidiaries of larger firms, look for annual reports on the parent company's website.

Industry Profiles

Industry Profiles [found in Business Source Premier]
This database includes industry reports from several well-respected sources, particularly Datamonitor's Industry Profiles and Global Insight's Industry Yearbooks. To access the industry reports, click Industry Profiles and type a keyword representing your industry into the "Browse for" box.

Standard and Poor's Industry Surveys [found in NetAdvantage]
     Ref HG4910 .S756
These detailed profiles characterize the dynamics of a particular industry at the time they were written, including the major players, trends, financial statistics, and the regulatory framework. This online database contains the last ten years of the Industry Surveys. To find the survey on your industry, click the Industry tab and use the Industry Surveys and Sub-Industry Reviews pull-down menus to select the appropriate report. Within the Industry Survey itself, use the links at top (such as "Industry Trends" and "How the Industry Operates") to navigate to different sections of the report. To download an Excel spreadsheet of financial data on the major players in the industry, click "Comparative Co. Analysis" in the left-side menu.

Industry-Related Books

Geisel Library owns a number of books profiling specific industries. Try doing a Keyword search in the online catalog for recent books about your sector. As examples, the following three titles each contain detailed profiles of approximately 10-15 industries.

Industry and Firm Studies (4th ed.)
     Reserves HD31 .I55 2007

Industry Studies (3rd ed.)
     Reserves HC106.8 .I53 2002

Structure of American Industry (11th ed.)
     Reserves HC106 .S78 2005


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IMC Analysis

The next stage of the project involves gathering information about the company's integrated marketing communications (IMC) program. Some basic info may be available in the sources listed above, particularly the company annual reports and financial statements (such as Form 10-K). In addition, search the business newswires, trade publications, and journals of marketing and advertising to learn about the company's advertising campaigns and industry analyst reactions to them. You can also scan the company's website for further insights into its marketing mechanisms, and look for its ads in magazines and on Internet sites such as YouTube.

Magazine and Journal Articles

There are many scholarly journals, popular magazines, and trade-press periodicals (i.e., periodicals targeted toward companies in specific industries) that regularly publish articles about marketing and advertising. These articles may help supplement your analysis by offering the reaction of media analysts, industry insiders, or columnists to your company's ad campaigns and marketing strategies. Do keyword searching in the databases below to identify articles about your company's marketing program. An example search might be "Verizon AND (marketing OR advertis* OR ads)". As you find relevant articles, take note of useful subject terms and try searching them as Subjects.

If there is no link to the full text of the article, click on the WebBridge  icon to determine whether the journal is available in the Geisel Library or in full-text via another electronic database. If the article isn't available, consider clicking on the Interlibrary Loan link to request a PDF copy of the article from another library. Articles requested via ILL will be delivered to your email inbox within about a week.

Business Source Premier
This database provides the most comprehensive indexing of articles from business journals and the trade press, with many of them available in full-text. Make use of the limiters across the top of the search results screen to narrow your focus to Academic Journals (to get scholarly treatments), Magazines (for popular magazine articles), or Trade Publications (for industry and company news). Journals available in full text include Advertising Age, Adweek, Business Week, Journal of Business Communication, and Journal of Marketing.

This database provides citations and abstracts (but no full text) from over 2,000 business and management periodicals, including academic journals and trade publications that cover industry trends.

Academic Search Premier
A broad index providing abstracts and some full-text of scholarly and popular journals. Check here for popular magazine articles on ad campaigns, and for scholarly analysis from business and economics journals.

Newspaper Articles

Newspaper articles (along with the trade press) are often the best source for information on the most recent company developments, including the latest marketing campaigns. The following databases offer full text of recent newspaper articles. Try the same keyword searches that succeeded in the journal databases; for example, "Pepsi AND (advertis* OR marketing OR campaign OR commercials)".

LexisNexis Academic - News
This database offers full-text articles from major newspapers and trade press publications. Next to the Select Sources label, choose either "US Newspapers and Wires" or "Business News Publications" from the drop-down box, depending on whether you want to search newspapers or business-specific publications. Adjust the Date Range as desired to focus on particular time periods. In the results screen, change the Sort to "Relevance" to move the best results to the top.

Wall Street Journal
This database offers full-text access to the Wall Street Journal (Eastern edition) from 1984 through the present. You can do keyword searching within the citations, abstracts or full text of articles.


Individual Company Websites
Companies often put their current commercials on their own websites. You may also find a section of the website dealing with the company's marketing and promotional efforts.

Magazines at Geisel Library
Popular magazines are the best place to look for print advertisements from major companies. For the latest issues of many magazines, visit the Periodicals Reading Room, located on the main floor of the library. Older issues can be located on the lower level, where magazines are arranged alphabetically by title. Some examples of popular magazines to which the library subscribes include: Atlantic Monthly, Business Week, Ebony, Forbes, Good Housekeeping, Money, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Scientific American, Sports Illustrated, and Wired.

Companies are increasingly taking advantage of YouTube's popularity among the lucrative "young adult" demographic by uploading their commercials for free viewing. Search the name of your company or any of its products to look for commercials.


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Citing Sources

For assistance with formatting your citations in APA style, see the examples on the following online guide or ask for the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (Ready Ref BF76.7 .P83) at the library's reference desk.


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Book cover image for The Ultimate Secrets of Advertising

Ruth Smith

Library Liaison
Jeff Waller

Company Analysis
IMC Analysis
Citing Sources

Subject Guide
Economics & Business