Marketing Professor on FBI's Most Wanted List

George Zinkhan Suspected in Shooting Deaths of Wife, Two Others

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- George Zinkhan, a marketing professor at the University of Georgia's Terry School of Business, is suspected in the shooting deaths of his wife and two other people that took place April 25 near the university. Mr. Zinkhan, 57, has been missing since the shootings, and it has since been reported that the FBI said he has a Delta Air Lines ticket to Amsterdam for May 2.

George Zinkhan
George Zinkhan
David Dodson, public-relations coordinator for the Terry College of Business, would not comment on the incident other than to confirm that Mr. Zinkahn has been let go by the university. Mr. Zinkhan was recently added to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list and "America's Most Wanted."

According to the Associated Press, the shootings took place at a gathering of a local theater group, of which Mr. Zinkhan's wife, 47-year-old attorney Marie Bruce, and the other two victims, Ben Teague, 63, and Tom Tanner, 40, were members. Authorities have been unable to identify a motive. Mr. Zinkhan and Ms. Bruce have a son and daughter, whom authorities said Mr. Zinkhan dropped off at a neighbor's after the shootings.

Using billboards to catch him
In a somewhat ironic twist, marketing, the profession Mr. Zinkhan was teaching, could be the vehicle that helps catch him. The Outdoor Advertising Association of Georgia has put Mr. Zinkhan's image, description and license-plate number on more than 75 electronic billboards in the state, as well as 10 other states in which he has some sort of connection.

"It's extremely ironic," said Conner Poe, executive director of the association. "I don't know if the guy has ever done any lectures on billboard advertising and the effectiveness of it, but the fact that he's involved in marketing is really ironic." The association works with the FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as a public service. But "this is the first nationwide manhunt that we have been involved in," Mr. Poe said.

Mr. Zinkhan's Wikipedia page says he was the department head for Terry's department of marketing and distribution from 1994 until 2001 and has held an "endowed chair" as the department's Coca-Cola Co. professor since 1994.

The page also says the American Academy of Advertising presented him with an Outstanding Contribution to Research award in 2004, he has published more than 100 articles in journals and books, and has served as the editor of the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science since 2003.

'Taking precautions'
A letter from Michael Adams, president of the university, posted on the home pages of both the university and business school, informed students and staff that the school would operate on a normal schedule this week. "However, I urge everyone to continue to exercise caution until the suspect is apprehended," he wrote. The university's home page also has an alert on its home page with a picture and physical description of Mr. Zinkhan and what he was last seen wearing, and informs "members of the university community to use your best judgment in taking precautions while this suspect remains at large."

Dean Krugman, president of the American Academy of Advertising, said Mr. Zinkhan is a prolific scholar, and "academy members were stunned by this horrific act." He said it's a sad time for everyone, and the academy is especially saddened by the impact this has on the families of the victims.

Jef Richards, a past president of the American Academy of Advertising, wrote in an e-mail: "George Zinkhan is, without question, one of the leading researchers in this field. ... A few years ago George also served as editor of the AAA's major research journal, the Journal of Advertising. Against that backdrop I think you can understand that a huge number of our members were stunned with the news of last Saturday, and many of us remain in a state of shock."

Coke and the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science did not return calls by press time.

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