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IMC Alumna Leads the Industry with a "Campaign of the Century"

You’ve probably seen their television ads. A 2006 ad featured 1,200 body bags being placed outside of Phillip Morris headquarters to signify the number of deaths per day from cigarette smoke. That same year, another ad featured a cowboy in Times Square singing with an electro-larynx after having his voice box removed. This year, they premiered a music video and ad at the Grammys titled “Left Swipe Dat,” reminding millennials that posting a smoking photo on popular dating apps can quickly take you from a “10” to a “2”.

“They” are the truth® campaign and are known for informative, provocative advertisements highlighting the consequences of tobacco use. Advertising Age magazine recently placed the truth campaign in their Top 15 Ad Campaigns of the 21st Century ranking.

Behind this groundbreaking, national award-winning integrated marketing campaign is a 2015 graduate of the WVU IMC program. Sarah Shank, senior communications manager for truth, has worked on the campaign for more than five years, leading aspects of truth’s digital evolution to keep up with the changing media landscape. “We’re super gritty and creative when rolling out campaigns. Our communications and marketing projects are up against a tobacco industry that spends more than $24 million per day, which is more money than we spend in a year. We do our best to beat them at every turn because we believe that the work we do with truth will can change the world.”

Shank says that her IMC graduate education helped prepare her to be a leader in the field, and that her professional and IMC course projects would often unexpectedly collide when she was taking classes. “While enrolled in the IMC program’s Internal Brand Communications course, we were transitioning to our current CEO, and I was helping with a lot of internal communications surrounding her on-boarding,” said Shank. “Being in the course are the time allowed me to not only apply what I was learning at work the very next day, but also bring a real-world experience back to my classmates.”

Read more about Shank in the summer edition of the Reed College of Media magazine.