ALUMNI UPDATE: Leah Smith takes on role at the The Richards Group and is starting a PhD in Information Science

Since graduating with an MA in Advertising from the Temerlin Advertising Institute in 2018, Leah Smith has worked in a variety of digital marketing roles. She has done everything from social media, to content marketing, to search engine marketing, and communications. She recently accepted a new role as a Brand Manager for The Richards Group here in Dallas.

In addition, Leah has been accepted as a doctoral student at UNT for fall 2021 in the PhD in Information Science program which she is extremely excited (and nervous) for starting. Leah explained that, “I hope while there, I can apply my mixed background in journalism (BA in Journalism from SMU) and marketing/advertising in the research I undertake.”

According to Dr. Carrie La Ferle, “Leah will be a value add to the UNT doctoral program with her sold work experience, enthusiastic personality and quick to learn nature.” La Ferle went on to add, “Leah will bring fresh and impactful eyes as she works to merge her interests across communication, social media and critical media studies during her doctoral studies.”

Leah reports that, “I no doubt attribute my success and some of the opportunities I’ve had professionally to my time at SMU. I’ve been very intentional in trying to maintain relationships with professors and classmates. No matter what industry you’re in, relationship-building is critical. I also routinely lean back on former professors for their wisdom and wealth of knowledge. ”

Leah wrapped up her update by concluding, “While I will ALWAYS be a Mustang, I really look forward to this new chapter as a UNT Eagle.”

ALUMNI UPDATE: Leveraging Graduate Education in the Industry

Temerlin alumna Deja Sanders is a global account supervisor at TracyLocke’s Chicago office. She credits her experience in Temerlin’s graduate program with facilitating her pivot into the advertising industry. “Completing my M.A. at Temerlin in 2018 was hands-down the best decision for my career. Not only was I able to stretch myself academically, but I was also able to tap into a wealth of creative resources from the Dallas area and across the world,” she says.

Sanders also credits challenging conversations with professors and colleagues that taught her how to navigate the clients she manages today. “The care and commitment to TAI students and their professional development is something that I will always appreciate,” she says.

“When I reflect on the tools and theories taught throughout this program, I can honestly say that I deploy many of them on a day-to-day basis. Beyond client relationships and good creative, advertising at its foundation is a psychographic tool leveraged to communicate across communities. Understanding these communities and what makes them tick is where my educational training intersects with my day-to-day role,” Sanders adds. She cites Dr. Sid Muralidharan’s graduate course, Advertising as a Cultural Force, as an impactful learning experience. Sanders studied how advertisers represent and communicate authentically with multicultural and international audiences. She aspires to continue these studies through a Ph.D. in advertising; her goal is to increase research and identify additional tools of engagement for multicultural and international audiences.

FACULTY RESEARCH: Graduate Student Co-Authors Article with Temerlin Faculty

Dr. Sid Muralidharan, associate professor, and Dr. Carrie La Ferle, Marriott Endowed Professor of Ethics and Culture, have been researching the effectiveness of domestic violence messaging on bystander reporting. Last fall, Dr. Sid invited Temerlin graduate student Lauren Howard to join their research for a third study exploring domestic violence prevention messaging.

The first two studies explore the outward-facing emotional response to ad messaging. The first study, published in the Journal of Advertising, compares guilt and shame ad appeals. A subsequent study published in the Journal of Nonprofit and Public Sector Marketing focuses on opposing emotional ad appeals – shame versus hope. Between both these studies, hope is found to be the more effective emotion in motivating bystanders to intervene. The most recent study, which Howard co-authored alongside Dr. Sid and Dr. La Ferle for Social Marketing Quarterly, pivots inward to compare the effects of guilt and hope messaging in relation to “independent self-construal,” the extent to which people view themselves as separate and distinct from others. Those with high independent self-construal are more apt to promote themselves positively and tend to be driven and have high self-esteem. In contrast, people with low independent self-construal tend to be less ambitious with lower self-esteem.  Findings reveal that hope messaging engages both low and high independent self-construal, whereas guilt messaging pushes those with low self-construal to distance themselves from potential bystander intervention.

“Through this independent study, I learned a lot about how we are still facing the impact of patriarchal societies’ dominance in many cultures worldwide,” says Howard. “This is important as it affects how people see, feel, and act upon domestic violence and the advertisements associated with bystander intervention. It is crucial that advertisers pay attention to what emotion resonates with consumers and encourages action when creating ads to promote bystander intervention.”

Temerlin faculty engage graduate students through a variety of work such as case studies, primary and secondary research, and agency internships to ensure students have exposure to the vast array of disciplines within the advertising industry. Learn more about Temerlin’s graduate program here.

SXSW: Neuroscience Proves Advertising’s Effectiveness

Conrad Li and Lauren Howard

“Great creative is about the gut feel and neuroscience proves it to be real.”

As advertisers we assume that great creative pieces will automatically result in high-recall and brand recognition. Human brains are decidedly lazy and have to be working all the time to gather and understand information, which means that advertisers need to work hard to make both the advertising message interesting and memorable.

In order for brands to be successful with their advertisements, they need to be understanding of the different ways to connect with consumers. They need to reduce the cognitive load that consumers are experiencing through their advertisements so that viewers don’t feel overwhelmed, but still understand the idea and message of the ad. Brands need to focus on three kinds of thinking to be successful and reduce the cognitive load: Brand Kind, Behavior Kind, and most importantly Brain Kind.

Brand Kind is the reality or relationship consumers have with brands; they are looking for “friends with benefits” relationship where they get what they want from the brand without too much effort. Behavior kind deals with the ability and opportunity for ads to bring a change in behavior such as making a purchase. Brain Kind is the most important one for brands to focus on and it deals with the visual shortcuts that allow brands to connect consumers using as many senses as possible. When ads only use one sense to reach consumers, there is not as much engagement, recognition, resonance, or relevance.

The speakers throughout this session showed that they used neuroscience to measure the key metrics stated above. Some of the world’s most memorable and well performing ads rated highly in engagement, but sometimes had the lowest brand recall. By using neuroscience, the presenters were trying to find a sweet spot between creativity and memory. Since memory is a finite resource, creatives need to find the best way to garner as much of it as possible. They believe that better experiences and engagement of senses can help with brand recall, but too much will lead to cognitive overload.

Brands that use creative ways to create moving ads (such as video) and experiential setups have the highest recognition, resonance, and relevance. Ads such as Sony’s Bravio Balls and Apple’s 1984 have high recall and recognition because of the ways they engage the brain. In the end, ads that have great creative elements that involve using different senses and direct brand messaging are the ones that stay with us the longest.

Navigating the Waters of Data-Driven Storytelling at SXSW Interactive 2018

Temerlin Advertising Institute graduate students Jessica Phillips and Catherine Scholl

Complexity, Complexity, Complexity

In an enlightening talk about data-driven storytelling, we heard from a panel of professionals about how they combine art and scientific data to execute seamless storytelling in their companies. The panel consisted of Renee Lightner, User Experience Technologist at Viacom, Russell Goldenberg, Editor at Polygraph / The Pudding, and Alex Simoes, CTO at Datawheel. Each member of the panel provided unique insight into perspectives and paradigms within data-driven storytelling through the lens of each of their respective disciplines.

Lightner opened by explaining the importance of online versus print graphics. Online graphics allow users to see the full picture and interact with the content, allowing for a better experience. A strategy she keyed in on was “complexity,” repeating a visual over and over so the reader grasps the content. Additionally, she said it’s important to allow the opportunity for the reader to explore the data on their own. Graphics should inform the reader while still allowing room for them to explore and take in the information at their own time in their own way.

Goldenberg explained the process that The Pudding goes through when providing content.

  • Start with an idea. Collect data. Analyze. Present.

The first three phases explore, while guidance is the final outcome. Great data does not matter – unless, it can be explained with a great guide. As we enter a world of AI with more data and more accurate data, consumers will be overwhelmed if it is not curated in meaningful ways.

Simoes’ approach to storytelling integrates data, extracts and matches entities and indicators, and builds integrated stories. Entities can be, for example, Los Angeles or coal mining, while the indicators within these categories can be something like exports or employment. Together, this information leads to integrated stories on the economy, education, health, etc. The outcome must be aggregated data that is easy to read, interactive, and entertaining. These three ideas seem to be a central theme to creating rich storytelling.

This panel was just one of so many incredible talks that we have attended this week. The atmosphere is absolutely electric as people immerse themselves in SXSW Interactive and all Austin has to offer.

There is diversity at SXSW Interactive 2018. Yet, it is more of the same.

The United States, Australia, Brasil, Mexico, china, Indonesia, Belgium, Great Britain, Iceland, Canada, Portugal, Italy, France, Turkey, Poland, The Netherlands, and Argentina.

What do all these countries have in common? For the next few days, representatives from each country are occupants of a single room at the South by Southwest Interactive trade show in Austin, Texas. 

SMU graduate students Christopher Calhoon and James Williams explored the SXSW Interactive Trade show and discovered that nearly every country was at the show offering a similar mix of products. Tech ruled, with emphasis on demonstrations of different realities (xR) including VR, AR and MR (mixed reality).

 

PhotoBloomAR is an interactive print platform that allows photos to come to life with movement and sound. Basically, they’re a Shutterfly for videos. The demo was a photo of a dog that when viewed through the app came to life as a video of the dog licking ice cream. 

After doing a few laps around the trade show floor and spending a few days here, we did not find one killer app, groundbreaking technological breakthrough or “paradigm shift” to come out of this year’s SXSW. Along with the country booths promoting a country’s technical abilities for business, there were many booths from biotech and medical tech companies promoting various products and services, but each seeed to be applications of current technology.

One fun idea from a startup based here in Austin is a sock subscription service called Sock Club. They started small by curating socks from other labels, and soon decided that they wanted to focus on their own manufacturing. Now all of Sock Club’s socks are designed in Austin, and the company has CSR at heart by controlling the entire production process, sourcing high-quality cotton, following eco-friendly processes, pay their workers are a living wage. 

While there were many countries represented on the floor and many languages being heard at the festival, the products being featured at the show are becoming more similar, competing on incremental improvements of already advanced technologies. Funny enough, this is where branding has it greatest power. When products have similar attributes, messages and brands become greater points of differentiation.

 

Health and Wellness at SXSW

Advertising students Joél Garza and Gabby Axelson stretched out at the health and wellness expo at SXSW.

From acupuncture to mushroom jerky, and sex toys to dental freshners, the Expo was booming with many people of many backgrounds. The sessions on health and wellbeing, understanding the importance of health to attendees of SXSW.

One vendor, Joaquin Brown, demonstrated an app called Yoga Wake Up. After attending a yoga class, he realized the value of breathing and relaxing when waking in the morning. An App idea was born. Instead of an annoying alarm, Joaquin created an app that wakes you with relaxing music and voice of a coach who leads breathing exercises to ready you for the day. With 40 different teachers and 120 different classes available, the app is adding more languages to their classes, to expand their reach globally. 

AOMA Graduate School of Integrated Medicine was there promoting Chinese and integrated forms of medicine. One of the TAI students even experienced the benefits of acupuncture first-hand. Pain is really on everyone’s mind when thinking of acupuncture, but Hannah said, “The whole process was painless. Bassically less pain or similar to a bug bite.”

It was interesting that while SXSW attracts people from all over the world to communicate and learn about themselves and about each other, the Wellness expo provided opportunities to learn about health and living your best life. We left feeling immersed in the SXSW community, the wellness culture and were ready to get back to the action at Interactive.

Brand Experiences Standout at SXSW Interactive

SMU graduate students Lesley Warren & Allison Farris explored brand activations at SXSW Interactive.

– A brand activation is a campaign, event, or experience to engage with consumers. They are generally interactive and at SXSW are almost uniformly over the top.

  • Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One places you in the world of the the OASIS
  • Google provides phone booths to promote Google Assistant
  • Prove It introduces new trivia app
  • Social Imprint is branded swag company with a pop-up shop on the trade floor
  • YouTube took over a building with “The Greatest Stories Retold,” in 6, 15, or 30 seconds

Ready Player One
Warner Bros is really going all in for Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One this year. In addition to a sort of creepy flash mob that’s been walking around downtown telling us they’re looking for Wade Watts (code name Parzival), they have a large activation on 4th Street that never seems to have fewer than 50 people waiting to go in.
I waited in line for about an hour. The activation featured gamer/sci-fi memorabilia from the 80s and 90s, including a ceiling-height bust of The Iron Giant and a DeLorean for photo ops. The main attraction was a seemingly very cool VR experience that puts you in the virtual reality world of the film, the OASIS, but I did not do this because, yikes, lines. The tech they’re using to capture data is particularly impressive for a pop-up experience, including lightweight wristbands containing your avatar name that you scan for each experience you participate in. To be honest, I don’t know anything about this film, and it isn’t my typical genre, but I do feel like I have to see this movie now. I’m too involved!

Google Assistant
Google’s pop up activation in the Fairmont had four different “phone booths” immersive set up to demonstrate the Google Phone’s virtual assistant. SXSW participants were guided through scenarios like “Make Google Book It” which demonstrated how you can book a trip completely through voice commands and “Make Google Order It” which demonstrated how you could order mittens for your grandma. The AI was shockingly sophisticated and responsive in real time, and there is great potential for brands to utilize voice search in their digital marketing strategies through paid search for #HeyGoogle. Most people were delighted by their interaction with the AI, but I did see one man who was frustrated by the experience. Not everyone is ready for a world run by smart computers.

HQ Competitor Prove It showed up in full force with multiple touchpoints in the downtown Austin area. Tampa-based PROVEIT is a new trivia app in direct competition with HQ. Founder Prem was handing out “Trivia Cash Cards” redeemable for $1-$1,000 cash in PROVEIT and offering smart phone users a place to charge their phones. This week they will be giving $25,000 to one player in Austin only to promote the 3-month old app. Also seen around town, a branded armor truck promoting the $25,000 prize. Users are encouraged to create and share a public selfie with the truck with the #ThisIsMoney and the funniest post of the week will receive $500 account credit.

Social Imprint, a branded swag company that hires adults who need a second chance in San Francisco, set up a pop-up shop on the trade show floor complete with an onsite screen printing press to demonstrate their process. The company was raising money for a local non-profit called The Front Porch by requesting a suggested a $5 donation for a free SXSW T-shirt. Trade show attendees could also see the full range of branded products that marketers could use for swag.

YouTube
Another interesting activation was from YouTube. The company recreated fairy tales for the modern age with help from top creative agencies and celebrities like Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch. With “The Greatest Stories Retold,” YouTube proves impactful stories can be told by a 6, 15, or 30 second clip. This pop-up was another impressive display of tech, with different video scenarios that are activated by motion and touch. My particular favorite was a shoe display that was activated when a person placed their foot in the large plastic heel. While not quite as grandiose as Ready Player One, “The Greatest Stories Retold” was entertaining and impressive.

Beyond People in Power, Tech, and Politics: SXSW Sessions Cover Broad Topics

Temerlin Advertising students Hannah Tymochko and Lauren Cole explored sessions beyond marketing and technology at SXSW.

CNN’s Jake Trapper paired up with Bernie Sanders to cover an assortment of topics, many of which Sanders felt are not adequately covered on CNN. Some of his notable and long-time favorites include gun control, DACA, and the 1 percent. All seemed to leave with a more patriotic taste in their mouth.

Whether Democrat or a Republican, Sanders had a message for all of us. Americans should love and respect each other. In strength we are united, but divided we are weak. Every question resulted in strong messages of unity and love.

Both democrats and republicans made their presence known verbally at one point or another, but there seemed to be no disagreement on Sanders’ message of unity and collaboration.

This talk was drastically different from what I had expected to see at a technology conference, and could not have been a better start to my experience.

The Richards Group’s Chris Ferrel’s “I’ve Got No Screens: Internet’s Screenless Future” was a stark difference in content and tone. Marketing to a #screenlessfuture was educational and entertaining. Current advertising practices are built around the importance of screens in consumers’ lives, but Ferrel warns that the future will contain less and less interaction with screens and will instead rely on voice interactions (i.e. Alexa, Google Home, and Siri).

Unlike the Sanders’ session, Ferrel was filled with humor. The insertions of funny content were welcome. “OK Goo-Goo” showed a video of an 85 year old woman with a thick Italian accent interacting with her Google digital voice assistant. Important to advertisers, Ferrel predicts the rise of the screenless future.

Ferrel’s session was more of what I expected to see at SXSW. It related directly to things we have learned in the Temerlin Advertising Institute, but presented a new aspect to new-age advertising that I had not thought of before.

The different sessions speak to the diverse topics SXSW covers, and the amazing opportunity we have to make the SXSW experience our own. The ability to customize our adventure at SXSW has been incredible. The variety in sessions offered makes the SXSW experience one that attendees can personalize. While we all have the underlying commonality of being Temerlin students, we can cater our experience to our specific specialization and interests. People from all over the world who are in such different professions all come together to attend SXSW, and we are so lucky to be able to be a part of it.

SXSW Interactive 2018: Day 1 Surprises

Maloree Malone and Dalya Romaner were teamed up to describe the first day of SXSW Interactive.

I have been to South by Southwest before, but never with an Interactive badge and my first day was really fun and interesting!” said Maloree Malone, TAI Graduate Student.

I am very interested in fashion and the business side of it, but I was always disappointed, because I never seemed to find any fashion sessions. It was great seeing all the different topics this year. Yesterday, I went to 3 sessions, and I got something out of them all.

Dalya Romaner, TAI Accelerated MA program student expressed, “SXSW perfectly encapsulates a conference experience. I started the first day with a schedule for every session I would attend, plus a few social and networking events. Everything was laid out perfectly in the SXSW app and I was ready to go.”

However, that plan went out the window and instead we followed Sandi Edgar, TAI Marketing Coordinator, into a session about Techfugees, a company dedicated to changing the refugee narrative using technology. Bernie Sanders was the next speaker and we wanted to get good seats, but we were hooked by the end of the talk.

A Rotten Tomatoes Film Debate was a hilarious, totally silly show with film critics debating film fans. So over the course of one hour, I went from discussing DACA and political engagement to hearing things like, “La La Land was more basic than a Pumpkin Spice Latte.”

While I wish I had gone to some of my sessions like “Anatomy of a Trend” and “Sustaining Brands” for the future,” these sessions were both educational and offered a nice glimpse into how every brand works to keep themselves current and innovative to a broad audience.

The days are long at SXSW and more opportunities revealed themselves. Dayla found a a panel discussing the future of women in tech, went on part of a bar crawl, and had Shabbat dinner (traditional Jewish Sabbath dinner held every Friday night) with fellow Jews attending SXSW.

None of this was laid out in an original schedule. Dalya didn’t attend a single pre-planned session, yet it was an amazing day. Maloree agrees, “I had a few sessions planned and thought I would strictly follow it, but I’ve learned that you have to sometimes play it by ear, because I hadn’t planned on going to the Rotten Tomatoes  session, yet it was the most fun.” Dalya concurs, “That’s the beauty of SXSW – you can go with the flow and find yourself learning more and meeting cooler people than you ever would have if you had your head in your phone, walking along the set path all day.”