TAI Hosts Visiting Scholar Dr. Grace Ahn for Lecture on Virtual Interactions

Dr. Ahn starting her lecture.

Thursday April 13, Temerlin Advertising Institute hosted a lecture by Visiting Scholar Dr. Grace Ahn, assistant professor at University of Georgia. Dr. Ahn discussed her research, “Virtual Interactions that Impact Physical Behaviors: Applications in Consumer Psychology and Health Contexts,” with many SMU students and faculty attending the event.

“I was very intrigued by Dr. Ahn’s research on virtual environments and how the interaction between virtual and actual reality can provide benefits to one’s personal health, education, and the natural environment,” TAI Professor Sidharth Muralidharan said. “We were fortunate to have Dr. Ahn make the trip to Dallas and discuss her cutting-edge research. ”

Through her research study, Dr. Ahn assesses how interactive digital media transform traditional rules of communication and social interactions, looking at how virtual experiences shape the way people think, feel, and behave in the physical world.

“Dr. Grace Ahn’s cutting-edge research is of major importance to a wide variety of fields,” TAI Professor Peter Noble said. “Her ability to convey the essence of her research into virtual reality and its application to the real world made it both accessible and understandable.”

Her ongoing work includes a NSF funded project exploring the application of virtual agents to promote STEM learning for children in informal learning environments, such as children’s museums. Her work has been published in a number of flagship outlets, including Journal of Advertising, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Communication Research, Journal of Health Communication, Human-Computer Interaction, and Media Psychology.

Temerlin Advertising Institute was honored to host Dr. Ahn for a lecture on her research. TAI is passionate about staying informed on all current topics in the advertising industry, hosting guest speakers periodically throughout the year.

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TAI Student Emma Clayton Shares Experience Running Fashion/Lifestyle Blog

Image from Clayton’s blog “Dash of Serendipity”

Many people aspire to start a blog, but many are unsuccessful when it comes to turning that blog into a profitable outlet. TAI student Emma Clayton has been running her own blog, Dash of Serendipity, for over five years. She has even been able to make a profit off of her blog through affiliate links and sponsors.

In the beginning, Clayton had no intention of starting a blog, but as she gained a large following she decided to start an official blog, which is a combination of fashion, beauty, and just life in general.

“Back in 2012 I created a Tumblr account, just as all my friends were,” Clayton said. “Slowly I started posting photos of my outfits and gained a pretty large following through that. Eventually I realized I wanted to have the opportunity to write more in-depth posts and moved my blog to a platform more suited for blogging. My first Tumblr username was ‘sweetest-serendipityyy,’ after the Lee DeWyze song ‘Sweet Serendipity.’ As my blog was getting bigger I realized that [it] might not be the most professional name, so I came up with ‘Dash of Serendipity.’”

While running a blog sounds like fun and games, there can be many challenges that arise along the way, especially for a student who is also managing school and extracurriculars.

Another image from “Dash of Serendipity”

“This year trying to juggle the work from my classes and everything else I’m involved in on top of my blog has been difficult,” Clayton said. “I am the Director of Communications at SMU Relay for Life and the Vice President of Public Relations in my sorority, which are both positions that demand a lot of my time. I definitely haven’t posted on my blog as frequently as I would have liked to this year, but that serves as motivation to keep trying to become a better time manager and planner.”

Clayton’s interest in fashion and running a blog led her to major in Advertising with a specialization in Digital Media Strategy and minor in Fashion Media and Graphic Design. With this combination, Clayton is learning all the right skills to continue running her blog for a long time.

“One of the reasons I was interested in pursuing the Digital Media track in Advertising was because of my blog,” Clayton said. “After a few years of having my blog I realized that I was organically teaching myself how to advertise in the digital space as I was promoting and sharing my blog content across many platforms. Now, I see myself using and solidifying the ideas and strategies I’m learning in my classes on my blog almost immediately after learning them.”

Some of the strategies Clayton is learning in her Digital Media Strategy courses include SEO and using Google Analytics to boost her blog on the web.

Image from “Dash of Serendipity”

“Most recently, I’ve been able to use a lot of the skills I learned in my Media, Metrics and Measurements class to more fully understand Google Analytics,” Clayton said. “I’ve been using Google Analytics on my blog for a few years, but was very unfamiliar with the information I was generating. Now, I feel like I have a more solid understanding of the platform.”

Clayton’s favorite part about having a blog is having a place to channel her creativity, and she hopes to continue her blog as long as she can.

“There are times where school gets more busy and difficult where I have to put my blog on the back burner,” Clayton said. “I always realize during these times that I feel like I’m lacking something. Having my blog to put all of my creative energy into is really great.”

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TAI Professor Suzanne Larkin Shares Experience Creating Program to Aid Learning in Children with Dyslexia

Since graduate school, TAI Professor Suzanne Larkin has had a relationship with Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and prototyped a program to aid learning for children with dyslexia. Professor Larkin got her Masters of Fine Arts degree in Visual Communication from Texas A&M Commerce (downtown Dallas), a program that combines Curriculum Development, Design Research, and Business.

TAI Professor Larkin

“My inspiration came from a challenge as I was acquiring an MFA,” Professor Larkin said. “The challenge was to connect with a ‘giant’ and create something that could benefit them, and do what we call ‘move the needle,’ which means collect data that shows efficacy of what we do as visual communicators. In that challenge I kind of conducted a search, like what people do for thesis topic development. And that started with talking to others to find problems in major organizations where visual narratives or visual solutions could be beneficial. So part of my talking to people came out of tools that we use in the creative industry, like mind maps. I created maps to focus on who to talk to, and in which organizations. I kept running into the same response, and that was that children with dyslexia don’t have enough of the proper resources to help them grow at early diagnosis point, like 2nd and 3rd grade. I was inspired because I love to have fun in my work, and I like to do whimsical concepts. I used to design greeting cards. I’ve done radio, broadcast, outdoor, print. I’ve done it all in my career. So I thought this was a great opportunity to touch a target audience and provide something that hopefully benefits them.”

The Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia at Scottish Rite Hospital for Children is the organization that formulated the first definition of dyslexia, allowing children to be evaluated and diagnosed. When Professor Larkin initially reached out to Scottish Rite, she received a response within 20 minutes, leading her to believe that there was a real need for help.

“I met with Karen Avrit, who is the Education Director,” Professor Larkin said. “We got together during therapy time and talked about what the patients were doing. I asked ‘Why are the children trying to read stories from text when they have reading challenges? Have they ever seen these stories?’ Of course, I’m thinking about this as a visual communicator because pictures say a lot. Karen thought that was a valid question since they didn’t have a visual representation of the fluency stories.”

At that point Ms. Avrit and Professor Larkin realized that there could be a way of using visual narrative to help in teaching punctuation.

“Their fluency program already has a brand called ‘Take Flight,’” Professor Larkin said. “So I thought, if I’m going to create intellectual property for the punctuation, I’ll need to give it a brand too. And of course I got really excited, because I love to create brands. Then I started thinking about color, typography, style of graphics, and on and on.”

Ellah’s Tools Logo

From there Professor Larkin developed Ellah’s Tools. Ellah, standing for Experiential Language Learning At Home, could act as an at-home supplement to “Take Flight,” a fluency program developed by the Center for Dyslexia.

“Karen asked me if there was a way to allow parents access to the tools so they could use them at home for supplementing what was being done during therapy time at school,” Professor Larkin said.

Professor Larkin did extensive research and concepting in the process of creating Ellah’s Tools. She had to find a way to animate and teach six basic punctuation marks to children with learning differences, in a way that would keep them engaged.

“Just like with branding, when things are always the same sometimes consumers get tired of it,” Professor Larkin said. “So of course these consumers would be second and third grade children so I want to make it exciting. Every week I gave them a different genre. The comma is based on blues. And I thought, okay, who is someone that inspires me when it comes to blues; well that was BB King. So the song was the style of BB King’s music.”

Throughout the creation process, Professor Larkin never had any sort of budget. She used a combination of her own talents, friends’ talents, and purchasing inexpensive stock music to create prototypes. She used Garage Band to create and edit the music, and Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Flash to create the final product.

Storyboard for Ellah’s Tools

“One of my Professors at Texas A&M actually has a blues band,” Professor Larkin said. “They’ve been around for years, and so Bill Ford was gracious to sing the lyrics for the comma. And sang it in his style to music that sounded like typical BB King blues. Because I don’t have a budget, I used a high definition recorder that I purchased. And we recorded in closets and small office spaces, so that there was limited echo. All of that came together in Flash and what we decided to do was instead of flushing out everything at the beginning, because it’s research…and things change, we thought…let’s do it in segments.”

Ellah’s Tools is designed to be a visual curriculum that reinforces what students learn in therapy. In creating the first prototype, Professor Larkin got parents involved through solicitation with therapists at schools in Wiley, Texas. Each week, she gave the therapists a package that include a DVD for parents to use at home and games to go along with the fluency stories.

“Parents were excited to participate. One parent told me that her daughter kept reminding her not to miss the meeting! I met with them for coaching on how to use the prototypes that we were putting together,” Professor Larkin said. “One of the stories was about different types of animals on a farm, so I [created] a scavenger hunt [game]. Another story was about some kids at the beach, so I created a word and image match game. The parents had that to play with alongside a list of prompts that they could use to excite their kids, what kind of conditions that the environment should be in when the kids are interacting with the tools for best case scenario.”

Professor Larkin was able to get feedback from the parents as well as the therapists collecting data. She created a pre- and a post-test for the therapists to evaluate the students. Both tested students not only on their fluency, but on prosody, and their comprehension of punctuation.

“The post-test revealed encouraging data,” Professor Larkin said. “All of the students showed improvement in their reading abilities and comprehension in at least one area. That was really exciting for what it meant to have children experience learning in a different way. It was multi-sensory and reinforced their therapy at home but in a fun way. When the study was done the parents participated in a survey on Survey Monkey. The feedback was great.”

Professor Larkin is hopeful for the future of design research. Last semester she met with the Budd Center at SMU, looking for the potential of sharing the punctuation prototypes with public schools in Dallas. She is also waiting to hear back from a unique school in Dallas that was created specifically for children with learning differences.

“My hope is that there is a way to be able to share these tools, and create more,” Professor Larkin said. “Right now there still isn’t a budget, so that means grant writing, begging, and convincing. I think visual narratives can assist all learning styles.”

 

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TAI Students Attend South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference

This Spring Break, TAI students and faculty went to South by Southwest (SXSW) to attend the SXSW Conference, which included sessions on Brands & Marketing, Design, Development & Code, Experiential Storytelling, VR/AR and the Intelligent Future.

TAI students and faculty during SXSW.

Students attending enrolled in a course, got a student discount and will be receiving 3 hours of pass/fail credit for the experience. The speakers and sessions at the SXSW Conference explore the newest trends and what’s next in entertainment, culture, and technology.

“The most relevant thing I learned was to create interesting content,” TAI graduate student Peyton Meersman said. “I think every session mentioned that content has to be original, creative, and interesting in order for it to be successful.”

While SXSW offers a wide variety of session topics, students attending found the sessions diverse and fascinating. A big topic discussed in many sessions was virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

“AI was a big theme at SXSW,” SMU student Katherine Scarpulla said. “I felt the most reasonable and crucial point I was presented was the healthy equation of AI. Chris White of Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit argued during his Lighting Up The Dark Web session that in order to solve our human created social problems, we must incorporate a healthy mix of data, AI and human interaction. He also stressed the importance of data literacy and the beneficence of data narrative to better illustrate social problems.”

TAI Professor Amber Benson and Director Dr. Steve Edwards

Along with the SXSW experience, TAI students got to shadow members of Agency Entourage, a Dallas-based creative digital agency, during sessions and attend a Boat Party hosted by the agency.

“The Agency Entourage boat party was a lovely experience,” Scarpulla said. “This experience enabled SMU Temerlin students to network with members of Agency Entourage as well as other professionals attending SXSW. I personally had to opportunity to talk with Austin, an AE member, who I had attended a session with earlier that day. I appreciated the occasion to discuss my experiences and thoughts about SXSW Interactive with advertising professionals and hear their thoughts and comments. It enabled me to view the information I gained during sessions from multiple viewpoints and understand its application to fields/industries other than mine.”

This was the first year that students could attend SXSW through TAI while receiving course credit. Many students were excited about the opportunity and greatly enjoyed their time spent in Austin.

“My SXSW Interactive experience was absolutely amazing,” Scarpulla said. “I cannot imagine not having attended this event because of the knowledge and relationships I gained as a result. I would encourage other Temerlin Students to apply for the course as it is an opportunity to apply your academics to real-time experiences.”

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TAI Hosts Visiting Scholar Dr. C.W. Park for Lecture on Brand Attachment

Monday March 20, the Temerlin Advertising Institute hosted a lecture by Visiting Scholar Dr. C. W Park, marketing professor at University of Southern California. Dr. Park discussed his research, “Brand Attachment: Theory and Practice,” with many SMU students and faculty attending the event. Through his research, Dr. Park assesses levels of brand attachment and how brands can attempt to achieve a strong consumer relationship.

“We all know that consumers trust and love products that meet their needs and provide a pleasing experience,” SMU MBA Candidate Kenneth Ryan said. “But Dr. Park helped complete the picture by elaborating on the growing importance of developing brand identities whose values match the consumers’ values. His chat at SMU gave students and faculty a glimpse into this growing field of marketing research.”

Dr. C.W. Park lecturing to audience of SMU students and faculty.

In his lecture, Dr. Park discusses the “3 E’s,” which are different types of benefits a brand can provide to consumers to develop trust, love, and respect for the brand. The “3 E’s” include enabling benefits, enticing benefits, and enriching benefits.

“I really liked Dr. Park’s presentation when he talked about the 3 E’s regarding brand attachment, especially Enriching benefits for customers,” TAI graduate student Phuong Nguyen said. “It’s hard enough to reach out to people these days and sell your products, and it’s even harder to provide them with inspiration and create a long-lasting relationship. I’m sure Dr. Park’s research paper will tell more about how brand attachment has a strong impact on the survival of the brand. These are very interesting and compelling ideas for brands that want to enter a new market.”

Dr. Park has published numerous articles in Journal of Marketing ResearchJournal of Consumer ResearchJournal of Marketing, and Journal of Consumer Psychology. He has also co-authored several books on marketing and brand management. Dr. Park was Editor of Journal of Consumer Psychology (2008-2012) and is currently the Director of the Global Branding Center at the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California (2008-present).

In addition, he was an advisor for Samsung from 1989 to 1998 and also served as a member of the Board of Directors for Samsung Corporation from 2001 to 2010. In addition, he has been serving as advisor for Pulmuone Corporation since 1993. He has been running and teaching a number of marketing executive programs at Marshall since 1998.

Temerlin Advertising Institute was honored to host Dr. Park for a lecture on his research. TAI is passionate about staying informed on all current topics in the advertising industry, hosting guest speakers periodically throughout the year.

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TAI Student Eric Sedeno Shares Experience Interning with Photomadic

Many students have a specific idea in their head about what type of company they want to work for. Usually this is a well-known, popular company that students idolize. However, these students often don’t realize that smaller, less well-known companies can provide an equally wonderful, if not even more hands-on experience. TAI student Eric Sedeno is interning this semester as the Jr. Design Intern with Photomadic, a small photo solutions and event marketing company in Dallas.

TAI student Eric Sedeno

Sedeno is an Advertising major on the Creative track with a minor in Graphic Design. He has had a lot of past experience with graphic design, which helped him get the job.

“I actually did not apply to this internship,” Sedeno said. “My boss found my LinkedIn profile and thought that my work was great and sent me an email about their company and what they were about. I visited their office and enjoyed how young and energetic the office was and decided to accept their job offer.”

The atmosphere and culture at the Photomadic office has provided Sedeno with many great memories already.

“One day after work we went to Sandbar [Cantina and Grill] to celebrate [a colleague] Dave’s birthday,” Sedeno said. “We played volleyball and bonded for about 2 hours and it was a great day. The other night we shot a promo video at a brewery in Dallas and everyone had a great time. It was fun to see everyone get even more comfortable and I felt like I was a part of the office crew.”

Many of the skills that Sedeno has learned in his graphic design and creative advertising courses have come in handy during his internship. He has learned many new skills as well.

Sedeno with his boss at Photomadic.

“Although I had a lot of design experience before my class, Intro to Graphic Design has really taught me about how to apply design principles and organize my projects better,” Sedeno said. “It’s really nice to take the design rules I am learning in class and applying then almost directly to what I am doing at my internship. [My internship] has expanded my knowledge of Photoshop tremendously and they have given me time to learn more Adobe programs, which is something I never thought I would have the chance to do.”

After graduation, Sedeno hopes to have a career as an Art Director in the advertising industry. His work experience and school training should help him to achieve this goal.

“My career is going to be as an Art Director in the Advertising industry so having any extra design experience is great,” Sedeno said. “I love being able to expand my knowledge on the programs that I will be using for the rest of my career. I even have my boss as a resource for how I should make my website look and what people in the design side of the world expect things to look like and what matters when they want to hire you.”

Although this was not a typical internship experience, from the application process to the job, Sedeno has had an incredible experience so far.

“I was very skeptical about taking this internship because I had never been approached about working in a place that I had never heard about,” Sedeno said. “But I took a chance, and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me. I have learned a lot and built some great relationships. I have grown a lot as a designer and I am able to make money while gaining all these experiences. I can’t wait to see what else I gain from the rest of these experiences.”

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TAI Students Lindsey McCurdy & Bari Kesner Share Experience Being Student Athletes

Being a student athlete is tough at any level, but it only gets more difficult as the skill level progresses. College athletes face an extraordinary amount of stress during their years as a student athlete. Between practices, games and competitions, and classes, being a student athlete is a full-time job.

Lindsey McCurdy playing golf for SMU.

TAI student Lindsey McCurdy is an Advertising major on the Strategic Brand Management track and on the SMU Women’s Golf team. Like every student athlete, she has had to learn to balance her time between school and athletics.

“Balancing school and athletics is definitely tough,” McCurdy said. “It’s all about staying focused and managing priorities. Being involved in athletics can be mentally and physically exhausting, so being efficient with your time in both aspects is always important. Golf requires a heavy practice schedule almost every day of the week, so planning classes and study sessions ahead of time is important in order to stay on pace with school work.”

McCurdy chose advertising because it gave her an opportunity to marry her interests of sports and branding. She hopes to play golf professionally after she graduates, and she is planning on using her advertising knowledge to help in her success.

SMU Women’s Golf Team

“Advertising is going to play a big role in my post-grad plans,” McCurdy said. “Advertising plays a big part in tournaments, sponsorships, and personal branding in golf. Even when I am playing professionally, advertising and sponsorships will be a big part of my work on and off the course. As an individual sport, personal branding and company sponsorships are important for the success of the athletes in golf. Knowing the ins and outs of the business can help me during my time as a player as well as in my plans to stay in the business after my playing days end.”

TAI student Bari Kesner is an Advertising major the Strategic Brand Management track as well, and she is on the SMU Women’s Soccer team. Like McCurdy, Kesner has learned the art of balancing school and athletics.

“Being a college athlete really teaches you the art of time management,” Kesner said. “Procrastinating is not an option when you miss the amount of school we do during season. I have to be super organized and mark everything in my calendar (games, training, tests, due dates, etc.) in the beginning of the semester so I know how to adequately schedule my time.”

Immediately after graduation Kesner will not be pursuing a career in soccer. Instead, she will be joining Teach for America, serving as a teacher at a low-income school for two years.

Bari Kesner playing soccer for SMU.

“I honestly do not have one clear future career goal at this point of my life,” Kesner said. “I am joining the Teach For America Corps in Los Angeles post graduation in May and plan to teach middle school for the next couple of years. After my teaching experience I believe I will have a more clear vision of what I want to do for the rest of my professional life.”

Although she will not be working in advertising in a traditional sense, Kesner believes that her advertising courses will help her be a better teacher for the group of children she will be teaching.

“Advertising teaches you how to convince people what they need and why they need it or how it will better their lives,” Kesner said. “Because I will be teaching in underserved communities next year, I think advertising will help me successfully sell the importance of education to my students.”

Kesner (#24) and teammate.

While being a student athlete can lead to many different paths, every student athlete has a unique college experience that they share with each other.

“I have had a very different college experience and have missed countless social and school related events,” Kesner said. “But because of soccer I have learned important life lessons and have met girls that I know will be my best friends for the rest of my life because of what we have gone through together.”

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TAI Professor Sidharth Muralidharan’s Research Accepted to “Journal of Advertising Research”

TAI Assistant Professor Sidharth Muralidharan has been published in various academic journals, with five more publications forthcoming. His main research focuses are cross-cultural studies and advertising’s impact on mitigating social and environmental issues.

His most recent accepted publication is titled “‘Green’ with guilt: Assessing gender differences in ownership messaging efforts in support of England’s plastic bag charge.” The paper will be published in the Journal of Advertising Research, one of the major academic journals in the advertising field.

“There have been plastic bag ordinances where shoppers have the option of either buying plastic bags or avoiding the charge by bringing reusable bags,” Professor Muralidharan said. “One such law came into effect in England, UK. My co-author and I were interested to test the effectiveness of the law by exploring the interplay of guilt appeals in ads and gender on shoppers’ green attitudes and behavior.”

Professor Muralidharan and his co-author did a two-part study exploring gender differences in consumers’ feelings of guilt relating to reusable grocery bags in Study-1 and how each gender responded to guilt appeals in Study-2.

“Survey findings from Study-1 showed that guilt was more impactful on women and helped generate favorable green attitudes and behavior,” Professor Muralidharan said. “Based on these findings, Study-2 was designed to examine how men and women would respond to guilt appeals for green messages framed by egoistic (focus is on the self) and biospheric (focus is on the environment) concerns. Two ads were designed that elicited a moderate level of guilt related to egoistic (personal savings from bringing reusable bags) and biospheric (saving the environment by bringing reusable bags) concerns. Findings showed that egoistic concerns were more effective and that this effect was stronger for women than men.”

Professor Muralidharan believes that this research has managerial implications, saying that the UK government and green advertisers could change their messaging to appeal to egoistic values instead of emphasizing on the more typical environmental benefits.

“Guilt elicited by ads seems to motivate shoppers, especially women, to engage in pro-environmental behavior,” Professor Muralidharan said. “Using gender as a segmentation strategy, advertisers could elicit guilt by incorporating ownership messages in egoistic ads that credit shoppers for behaviors they have yet to begin (e.g., contributing to their personal savings by carrying reusable bags). For pro-environment attitudes and behavior to follow, advertisers should highlight egoistic solutions to the problem: benefits such as personal savings and positive emotions such as happiness. By doing so, advertisers will initiate coping mechanisms that allow consumers to mitigate emotional dissonance and encourage them to pursue pro-environment choices.”

Along with his research, Professor Muralidharan teaches four courses at SMU, including undergraduate (Survey of Advertising and Advertising, Society & Ethics), and graduate (Advertising as a Cultural Force and Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship) courses.

“Ethics lacks importance in both college curriculum and the advertising industry,” Professor Muralidharan said. “On reading past student evaluations, I can say that my greatest accomplishment is when our students at the end of the semester realize the value of ethics and social responsibility in advertising.”

Research is a passion of Professor Muralidharan’s. Although it can be very time consuming to be both a professor and a researcher, he uses his love for research as motivation to balance the two.

“I’ve been teaching at SMU since 2012 and will complete five years by end of this semester,” Professor Muralidharan said. “I try to give equal importance to both teaching and research and being organized and strategic can help maintain a healthy balance. For my balancing act, I begin with teaching first since it is more structured and has a schedule in place, while trying to weave in my research endeavors whenever there are no teaching periods in between. Though research is more malleable, I still organize my research projects for the year, including deadlines and target journals. This is imperative in order to achieve my annual research goals.”

Professor Muralidharan has three other publications forthcoming in both the Asian Journal of Communication and the Journal of Promotion Management. Working on so many research projects has taught him the proper equation for doing research as well as improving his patience.

“I always try to work on research projects that explore advertising’s ability to help mitigate social and environmental issues,” Professor Muralidharan said. “During my tenure as a researcher, I have been fortunate enough to work with accomplished researchers and through collaborations I was able to learn new research methods and statistical analyses while at the same time improved my skills as a storyteller. A strong narrative and appropriate method/analysis go hand-in-hand and both are equally important to a study’s publication success. The multiple research projects I have worked on over the years have taught me a major lesson, which is patience. It can take months for a study to transform from an idea to having it published in a journal but the key is to view the journey as a marathon and not a 100-meter dash.”

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TAI Graduate Student Lauren Lombardo Interning with Dallas Zoo

All students want to have a unique internship experience that they can brag about and proudly place on their resumes. An internship that sets you apart and is out of the ordinary. This semester, TAI graduate student Lauren Lombardo is doing just that while completing her Executive Internship at the Dallas Zoo.

Lombardo inside the Dallas Zoo.

Lombardo is working one of few indoor jobs at the zoo as the Communications and Marketing Intern. Her job responsibilities include writing editorial content, writing features for the blog, and participating in social media efforts.

“I’ve learned a lot about taking on different voices and writing for different audiences,” Lombardo said. “I create content for a variety of outlets at the Zoo, and each one needs to be tailored specifically for that outlet. I’ve also learned to be a better interviewer. A lot of the content I write is dependent on what I can get out of people, and my supervisors have shown me how to ask more robust questions in order to dig a little deeper.”

While this internship shares similar responsibilities to that of many other marketing internships, Lombardo’s position at the Dallas Zoo offers her unique experience working for a very different type of brand than typically taught in advertising courses.

“A typical day at the Zoo is probably a little different than most of other internships,” Lombardo said. “Usually, I come in to the administration office and check e-mail, respond to inquiries, and catch up with my supervisors as they’ll often assign me special projects to work on. I might write a blog post, which involves calling and interviewing a keeper or possibly going to an event. I usually try to draft an engaging social media post to go along with a blog. Every Zoo employee has a radio, so we’ll often receive radio calls about important events, like an elephant introduction, and head over to watch it during the workday. Other times, there might be a behind the scenes tour for interns that I’ll go to. I like to eat my lunch by the Sumatran Tigers or on Cat Green by the native Texas cats and walk around the Zoo. I usually finish up my day by working on the member newsletter, which means I have to contact the different Zoo departments to get the latest scoop on what they’re doing. Overall, a typical day is full of lots of writing and animals!”

Sumatran Tiger in the Dallas Zoo.

Lombardo’s love for animals and conservation has made her experiences at the Zoo incredibly special for her. Since she gets to spend a lot of time around the Zoo, she has seen several special events and exciting moments.

“My favorite moment from the internship has been attending the Zoo’s Cheetah Encounter,” Lombardo said. “As an intern, I was allowed to watch the Encounter from a VIP viewing area, so I was up close and personal for the whole experience. Winspear, the Zoo’s cheetah, took off running from one end of the exhibit to the other, and it was so amazing to see this athletic animal in action. I could even hear him purr at one point! Winspear also has a canine friend named Amani, who helps keep him calm [because] cheetahs are naturally nervous animals. The keepers took the time to talk with me about cheetah conservation and tell me more about the relationship between Winspear and Amani. Conservation is extremely important to me, especially when it comes to big cats (big cats are my favorite animals), so this was an extremely insightful and fun event. I often attend events like this and write blogs or social media posts about the experience.”

Lombardo got her undergraduate degrees in English and Geography from the University of Texas, and is now getting her Masters in Advertising from SMU. Her internship with Dallas Zoo provides her a perfect opportunity to combine her interests.

“The internship speaks to my two very specific areas of interest – writing and conservation,” Lombardo said. “My [undergraduate] Geography coursework specifically focused on sustainability. I never thought I would find an internship that incorporated these interests so well, but it’s made my time at the Zoo even more special and invaluable in terms of experience.”

In the future Lombardo hopes to work in the field of advertising and marketing as a professional copywriter.

“I would like to work for a either a non-profit or an agency that specializes in non-profit advertising and marketing,” Lombardo said. “My internship at the Zoo has provided me with direct experience in crafting copy for a non-profit and appealing to the members/donors that support the 501(c) community. I would also specifically like to work on campaigns that revolve around conservation and social responsibility, which is a major area of focus in the content I produce for the Zoo.”

Posted in Better Advertising. Better World., Graduate Students, Internships, Internships, Masters in Advertising Program, Professional Development, Social Responsibility, TAI Students | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ExxonMobil Lecture Series: “Signs of Humanity” Screening

Tuesday, February 28, the Temerlin Advertising Institute hosted a public screening and Q&A of documentary “Signs of Humanity” at the Angelika Film Center as part of its 2017 ExxonMobil Lecture Series.

Professor Baronet talking to Jennifer and Jesse, a homeless couple in Seattle.

“Signs of Humanity” is a documentary film created by TAI Professor Willie Baronet. The film explores themes of home, homelessness, compassion and humanity as Professor Baronet and his team travel the country collecting over 200 homeless signs and interviewing over 100 people on the streets.

“The event on Tuesday evening really opened my eyes to the important work that Willie is doing, and how many people are willing to help him,” SMU student Dalya Romaner said. “The documentary was beautiful, and I feel that everyone watching it could connect to some aspect of it, whether it was one person he interviewed, or a reason for his project, or even a city he visited. Let’s just say, I now look up to Willie not only as a professor, but as a human being, and a change maker in a world desperately needing change.”

Each year TAI hosts lectures and events as part of the ExxonMobil Lecture Series. The series is one of many ways that TAI advocates its motto “Better Advertising. Better World.” This lectures series helps to promote advertising, media and corporate ethics by hosting events to discuss varying ethical topics that can be related to advertising.

Crowd at the screening event.

“We are so pleased to recognize the creative work of Professor Baronet,” Steven Edwards, Director of the Temerlin Advertising Institute, said. “Offering the public an opportunity to view ‘Signs of Humanity,’ recognize important supporters of the project, and create a space to spur on the conversation about homelessness is part of our larger mission to positively impact our community.”

Many TAI students, as well as faculty and local industry professionals, attended the event. The night started off with a reception and networking, followed by a brief recognition of documentary creator and producers, the screening of the film, and finally a Q&A with Professor Baronet and other producers of the documentary.

“Willie and his filmmakers did a great job of providing an open-minded glimpse into the world of homelessness nationwide,” Romaner said. “They didn’t come in with preconceived notions, they treated everyone as humans, not as homeless people, and it was beautiful to watch. I really feel that it gave everyone an idea of something small we can all do to help the homeless community around us, even as small as acknowledging that they are humans too. I think the most important takeaway from the film, the event, and Willie himself, is that we need to see everyone as people going through their own struggles, and it’s that commonality that gives us the chance to connect so the world is not made up of ‘us vs. them.’”

From left to right: Professor Baronet, Director Tim Chumley, Producer Judy Burch Gass, Producer Eamon Downey

Professor Baronet is doing important work to shine a light on homelessness. The event was an opportunity for the entire faculty and Professor Baronet’s students to celebrate what has been his two-year journey to film, edit, and showcase his project. This work has provided learning opportunities for students to reflect on the intersection of art, advertising, film-making, and creative expression in a persuasive context.

“I loved when Willie said in the film that the sign exhibit isn’t about him, it’s about the people he’s doing this for,” TAI alum Mallory Ashcraft said. “As a writer and former advertising student of Willie’s, I related to that inner dialogue, and I was so inspired by the fact that he tells the story of the homeless very honestly. I think everyone needs to see this film, because it showed me that we can all do more to emotionally support the homeless individuals in our communities and cities.”

“Signs of Humanity” is the product of a larger, ongoing art project, WE ARE ALL HOMELESS, which began when Willie purchased his first homeless sign in 1993. The project’s mission is to create a more compassionate world by creating awareness and provoking conversations about people on the streets, and inspiring others to find and implement solutions to the many causes of homelessness.

Learn more about WE ARE ALL HOMELESS and their Impact Campaign here.

Posted in Awards and Projects, Better Advertising. Better World., Community Outreach, Faculty, Upcoming Events | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment