Ethical Dimensions of Art and Design

By: TAI Professor Mark Allen

As someone who has studied both art and philosophy, people regularly ask me what, if anything, they have in common. While I think that there are many fascinating ways in which these two domains overlap, one similarity that I find particularly interesting is the intersection of ethics and aesthetics.

One way that ethics and aesthetics are similar is that they both deal with value. When we say that a painting or a deed is “good,” at least one of the things we mean is that the thing or action in question has value. When we say that a painting or a deed is “bad,” at least one of the things we mean is that it has little value, or even negative value insomuch that it diminishes our experience of life or the world around us. It’s why we use words like “beautiful” and “ugly” interchangeably to describe both artistic works and moral acts.

– That was a beautiful song. 

– That was a beautiful thing you did. 

– That sculpture is ugly. 

– That was a really ugly thing to say. 

In other words, murder is not merely wrong, there is something truly ugly about it. And when a painter puts the final brushstroke on the canvas, there is something distinctly right about it. So, there seems to be an aesthetic dimension to the moral life and an ethical dimension to the aesthetic.

Whether it be moral or artistic, things of value improve our lives in some way. But it is important to point out that many of the things we value most (like good art and good deeds) are worth pursuing for their own sake, regardless of any utilitarian benefit we get out of them. Sure, listening to certain types of music can lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety. Those who live a life of kindness and generosity often experience the rush of positive feelings and a general sense of well-being. Such benefits are real and welcome, but nonetheless secondary. Good music is valuable even if it doesn’t reduce our heart rate (sometimes it does just the opposite). Acts of kindness and generosity often go unnoticed and lead to self-sacrifice.

Another thing that the spheres of ethics and aesthetics share is the concept of wisdom. No one appreciates it when their difficult seasons or ethical dilemmas are met with oversimplified advice and platitudes from those who mean well, but lack the awareness and nuanced sensitivity that a situation calls for. so often life doesn’t seem to play by any rules, which is why—when things gets complicated—we seek out the counsel of the wise, not just the intelligent or talented. Nor those who have simply memorized a rigid code of conduct: Always do this. Never do that.

Of course, it’s important to start with the “unbreakable” rules that all people everywhere value: don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t lie. We instruct children to tell the truth, to be kind and to respect their elders. And yet, as they mature we explain that there may come a time when other rules come into play. When a stranger asks if a parent is home; when a bully is cruel to the weak or marginalized; when an adult behaves inappropriately toward a child. It such cases, it’s not time to be nice. But the proper responses in these situations are not somehow violations of the fundamental moral principles of truth, kindness and respect—quite the contrary, the fitting responses are based on and upheld by the most basic fundamentals.

Over the course of my career I’ve been able to witness these parallels play out in the classroom, particularly my design classes. [1] Pick up any good textbook on the topic and more than likely you’ll find a set of rules that, when followed, lead to good design. My go-to text for beginners is Timothy Samara’s Design Elements, which starts off with just such a section entitled, “Twenty Rules You Should Never Break.” Here Samara makes it clear that students of design should:

#4 Never use more than two typefaces. 

#8 Never fill up all the negative space in a layout. 

#18 Always make sure your composition is dynamic and full of motion.” [2]

I like Samara because he is great for beginners in that he gives clear-cut, easy-to-follow rules that help students avoid some of the most common pitfalls that the untrained or self-taught designer may struggle with. However, the complaint I frequently get after a few weeks is that Samara’s method is a very strict and narrow way to approach such an artful discipline. I mean, is the process of design really just a set of rules? A flowchart of do’s and don’ts?

In one sense, I think my students are right to complain—the book does start off in a rather rigid fashion. Always do this, never do that. But the other big reason I use this text is the way Samara ends the book with a chapter devoted to examples of how each and every one of his twenty rules can be broken. Of course, Samara saves this chapter for the end because he is a seasoned professional and an experienced educator. He knows that, until students master the fundamentals, they have not yet developed the aesthetic savvy needed to flex foundational principles like an experienced pro. The fact that Samara offers up twenty ways to break his twenty rules is not proof that aesthetic relativism is true; it only reveals that both skill and experience are needed in order to become a good designer.

When teaching through this text I always stress that Samara does not end his book by saying “Now, throw out all the rules I mentioned earlier and do whatever you want because, after all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” If this were true we could choose type, color and style arbitrarily, despite the context or meaning of the work. By contrast, Samara provides detailed, illustrated examples of legitimate exceptions—not contradictions. It’s why the actual name of his final chapter is When and Why to Break Every Rule in this Book.”

Personally, I wish Samara had used a different word than “break” because it’s not as if he is teaching students to actually violate or contradict any fundamental rules of design here. He’s making an appeal to a higher (yet complementary) set of principles that can only be properly wielded with a great deal of knowledge and experience. The examples he gives are exceptions based on more advanced rules that don’t translate well into pithy lists, templates or 140 characters—methods that are the domain of master designers and artists. Perhaps there is a proper time and place for truisms and templates, but with complex themes and problems comes the need for artists who have more than just a set of skills, but in a very real sense demonstrate a certain kind of artistic wisdom.

Aristotle’s approach to ethics most closely embodies what I’m trying to demonstrate and is largely based on what is known as the Golden Mean—that is, finding a “middle” way between the extremes of deficiency and excess. For example, courage is a virtue with respect to how someone responds to danger—if taken to one extreme in excess, it becomes recklessness, while the deficient extreme manifests itself as cowardice. It is no accident that Aristotle uses art as a way to illustrate this concept in his Nicomachean Ethics:

“Hence people are accustomed to saying that there is nothing to take away from or add to works [of art] that are in a good state, on the grounds that the good state is destroyed by excess and deficiency but the mean preserves it; and the good craftsmen, as we say, perform their work by looking to this.” [3]

Aristotle says that we should always strive to be courageous (which might sound dogmatic). But he also says it’s important to take the particular person and situation into consideration (which might sound relativistic). But the beauty of his system is that the mean is not the exact middle, nor is it always found in the same place along the continuum between excess and deficiency. [4] Some situations call for the courageous person to act in a way that is closer to the reckless end of the spectrum, while in other situations what is courageous may seem like cowardice. For instance, a 6’4” military officer who wrestles an armed terrorist to the ground in order to save a train full of people vs. Rosa Parks who simply refused to give up her seat on a bus. Both people did the right thing—the equally courageous thing—but they did so in a way that was fitting for each context. [5]

In summary, when it comes to ethics, the well-lived life certainly comes with its fair share of rules—but it is the wise among us who are most skilled at navigating life’s complex seasons and dilemmas with earned experience and a familiarity with those moral principles of a higher but complementary order. Likewise, the fundamentals of art and design are inescapably important—in fact they form the only foundation from which more advanced skills and principles can be applied or even thought. The fact that such striking parallels show up across the seemingly unrelated disciplines of art and philosophy reveals something significant about the world and our shared experience of it—namely, that values like truth, goodness and beauty are perhaps aspects of reality itself and represent common goals toward which all humanity strives (whether we are conscious of it or not).

 

NOTES: 

[1] While I will focus here on parallels between philosophy and design, it should be noted that legendary advertising icon, Bill Bernbach, studied philosophy at NYU and remained an avid reader of philosophical works throughout his life. In fact, in a speech speech he gave to the 4A’s (the American Association of Advertising Agencies) in 1980, he specifically mentions Aristotle, St. Augustine and Bertrand Russell (among other thinkers) and relates their work to the task of advertising.

[2] Samara, Design Principles, pp. 10-23.

[3] Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1106b 10-14.

[4] It is important to note here that the “middle” state that Aristotle advocates is not the exact middle or “average” between extremes, but rather a mean relative to the situation. With this feature, Aristotle’s ethics avoid the moderation fallacy (Ex: Jim isn’t paying attention and backs into Pam’s car. Even though it’s Jim’s fault, he offers to do what’s “fair” by meeting her in the middle and paying for half of the damages).

[5] Aristotle also points out that certain vices that are not on a continuum between extremes, so there is no mean. Ex: there is no “just right” amount of racism, cruelty or adultery.

My First Year at Temerlin Advertising Institute

By: TAI Professor Dr. Yan Huang 

It is hard to believe that it has been one year since I joined Temerlin Advertising Institute (TAI). Looking back, this is an incredible year filled with exciting opportunities and experiences.

TAI stands at the intersection between the advertising industry and the research community. The unique combination provides a great source of inspiration. Through many TAI initiatives over the year, I have been engaged in conversations with both top advertising scholars and industry leaders. I am able to further develop my research program not only by asking questions that are important to theories but also with the industry trends and needs in mind. As the convergence of media and technology has disrupted the landscape of advertising practice, I extended my research on traditional persuasion theories to the digital domain. I initiated research projects that explore how novel digital advertising practices such as native ads and advergames can be used to promote public health and social good. These projects received funding support from the Meadows School, the University Research Council, and the Sam Taylor Fellowship. With the support of TAI, I was able to present four research papers at the annual conferences of the American Academy of Advertising, National Communication Association, and International Communication Association.

As a professor, I always hope to help my students understand the real-world meanings of theories, and motivate them to transplant the knowledge acquired in the classroom to the world at large. Located in a vibrant city and connected to the industry community, TAI is a great place to implement this teaching philosophy. I am also impressed by TAI students’ motivation and their aptitude for making connections between the somewhat abstract academic process and their life. I have had student groups investigating consumers’ perceptions of Whole Foods after Amazon’s acquisition, exploring the use of experiential marketing strategies in military recruitment, and examining how car commercials affect gender stereotyping, just to name a few.

My collaboration with the 9-1-1 program in the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) in the classroom of Strategic Brand Management 2 is a highlight of this approach. Students formed four teams to perform a brand audit for the 9-1-1 program from different angles and provided executable plans for promoting its branding among the public, college students, elected officials, and telecommunication professionals. This task required the abilities to flexibly apply marketing principles in the textbook to the nonprofit context and to critically analyze real-world problems. My students excelled with their creativity, curiosity, and diligence.

Christy Williams, director of the 9-1-1 program, said, “Working with Yan and her students in the Strategic Brand Management class was a great benefit to the 9-1-1 program in the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG).  Collaboration with academia is important to our program, as we understand that times are changing and there is value in students’ perspectives.  NCTCOG is very progressive with our technology and we want to keep up with our education and branding as well.  The students at SMU provided new insights and ideas through their class projects.  They served as a ‘fresh eye’ into our program and delivered professional constructive criticism along with proposals for improvement in their presentations. We expected advice on improving our website and social media, but were surprised with the insightful suggestions for presentations and field awareness.  The suggestion to ‘focus on inspiration more than education’ could change the future direction of our awareness strategy.  All in all, we found great value in the partnership.  In fact, we believe that the value will continue with a group of students who took a project to heart and made a difference.  Each one of them demonstrated that they are 9-1-1 champions!” It is certainly one of the most rewarding moments when I saw what students learned and accomplished in the classroom could make a difference in the real world.

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a group of talented colleagues and to instill the passion for and knowledge of advertising into many gifted students. I look forward to another fruitful and joyful year.

Praise From a Class Client

Class Clients

In the program capstone course, Advertising Campaigns, our senior students showcase their accumulated knowledge through an intensive practical exercise. Working in small agency groups, they vie for the new business of a client. The client is real, in the room and judging their performance. The problems and the budgets are real. Students investigate, plan, develop strategies, create integrated marketing campaigns and solve clients’ advertising problems. We’ve worked with brands such as American Airlines, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Glidden, Nokia, Rockfish, Kinko’s, Hyundai, Postal Vault, Toyota Matrix, Bank of America, Waste Management, Wingstop and FLA USA.

Click to learn more or apply to be a Temerlin Class Client

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Praise from one of last semester’s class clients below…

May 16, 2018

Peter,

From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for the marvelous work you and your students did on the marketing campaign for Cox Insurance.  I am thrilled with the results.  All of the campaigns went beyond my expectations and “hit it out of the ballpark.”  At the beginning of the project, you said that no client had ever been disappointed with the results and I am certainly no exception.  Indeed, it is hard to imagine a client being more happy than I am with the results.

All of the campaigns had useful information—some more than others—but the beauty of your method for teaching the students is that the competition generates an overall product which surely goes far beyond what would be possible otherwise.  In other words, the whole project is a brilliant conception, and that redounds to you.

It was very hard to pick a winner since all of the campaigns were extremely well conceived and dug deep into the market.  Red Chair’s winning campaign centered squarely on the reason why I started Cox Insurance in the first place, which is to save people time and give them the respect in the marketplace that such hard-working people deserve but have never had.

Again, thank you so much for helping me find the “nuggets” among Cox’s demographics.  I know that we have to pick a project winner and that’s why I’m writing, but let’s be clear—I’m the real winner here—and I know it.

 

Maria Coello

Cox Insurance Group, LLC

 

Why take a MayTerm or JanTerm Course?

MayTerm or JanTerm courses are not just if you need an extra class or are trying to make up for a failed course. These short courses, 11 class days and eight class days respectively, can be super beneficial and enjoyable. In both situations there are no other courses being taken at the same time so a student’s focus is only on the readings, lecture notes, and assignments of that one specific class.

Mayterm courses are about four class hours a day and JanTerm classes are about eight hours a day, so usually there is no time for extracurricular activities or part-time jobs. At first, this might scare off students, but it is only for 11 or eight class days and you are done with a three credit course for your major or minor as well as potentially a UC requirement. Also, during these two weeks, one’s focus only being on the course material helps learn the concepts well. Students can review material and continually be using and building on material from the day before and the day before that, while the professor can take additional time to review difficult concepts not always possible in class during a regular semester.

I have taught 17 week courses, JanTerm and MayTerm classes as well as 5 week summer sessions. I really think many students do better and enjoy learning the material in a shorter term course when they have only the course material to focus on.

The other element is the bonding that happens between students and also with the faculty member and students. Since people are together every day and for long periods of time, you really become a team in learning the material and working together while almost having a family like feeling. The latter point is further conducive to learning the material while enjoying the time spent learning.

For students unsure about how they would do in a course or nervous about the content, a short semester course is a great option. The average grade when I teach has typically been a little higher than the class average in a regular 17 week long semester because students learn the material better with few outside distractions. Students who sometimes struggle in a bigger class or during a 17 week semester, often find more opportunities within the class to clarify concepts and certainly outside of class time with the opportunity of seeing the professor every day.  In many cases, a MayTerm or JanTerm course is smaller during these off semester learning opportunities, which again allows for deeper learning and richer dialogue in the classroom.

On this last point, the smaller and more intensive structure allows for interesting projects to arise that may not always be possible during a longer session or with a larger class size. One year, my MayTerm ethics in advertising course undertook a volunteer opportunity to help clean up a nearby park. In the process, they learned about the park and the neighborhood in order to create a marketing plan for how to engage the community in using and taking care of the park. This past MayTerm (2018) we tackled the issue of Mental Health and students developed proposals for matching brands with different facets of Mental Health with the goal of bringing awareness to the issues and to help normalize the conversation.

Please consider a short-semester course in your future. The Temerlin Advertising Institute often offers courses in Ethics, Production, Advertising in Dallas or Advertising in NYC as well as Campaigns. Check out your course catalogue online to see what might be available for you.

By Carrie La Ferle, Ph.D.
Distinguished Teaching Professor
Temerlin Advertising Institute

Step Away From the Google Doc: Fostering True Collaboration

Step Away From the Google Doc
Fostering True Collaboration
by TAI Professor Amber Benson

 

Today, Jeff Bridges will deliver the final talk in the SMU Tate Distinguished Lecture series. Most college students know Jeff Bridges for his role as The Dude in the cult movie The Big Lebowski. Your film professors would probably remind you that he is also a seven-time Academy Award nominee, with a win in 2010 for his starring role as a down-on-his-luck musician in Crazy Heart.

But my first memory of Jeff Bridges was seeing him in a quirky science fiction movie called TRON. In it, Jeff Bridges plays Kevin Flynn, a computer hacker that gets digitized–by a laser, no less–and trapped inside a mainframe computer. While there, he partners with other programs to break free and keep himself from de-rezzing (or dying). The special effects, which look like a bad 80s nightclub to a modern-day viewer, were groundbreaking. Although Disney updated the franchise (and Bridges reprised his role) in 2010, it’s worth checking out the original.

Or you could just visit one of my classes. Because I think the ghosts of TRON haunts the halls of Umphrey Lee.

Recently, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. Whenever I encourage my students to work in groups, I watch as they circle up their desks, fire up their laptops and then go radio silent. They are sitting right next to one another, yet they are miles apart. And I know exactly what’s going on.

They are trapped in a Google Doc.

As a professor of digital advertising, I encourage my students to use technology to their advantage. I just wonder if that confab of multi-colored cursors in your browser is helping you achieve your goals. Sure, you are creating a document together, but are you actually creating value?

Value creation is at the heart of the advertising industry. As advertisers we create that value by turning insights into ideas. And to do that, we need to bring various perspectives to bear on the challenges our clients give us. And that requires more than mere collaboration. It requires dialogue.

The word dialogue has Greek origins, its roots are “dia,” which means “through” and “logos” which means “speech.” Dialogue literally means to “pass through speech.” It is the literal exchange of words that propels ideas forward.

Imagine that I give you a small piece of moldable clay and tell you to create a bust of Abraham Lincoln. You could try to do it yourself. You could make your best attempt and then give it to someone else to revise or edit. In the end, you might achieve your goal, but a linear, sequential process leaves little room for inspiration or optimization.

Alternatively, by working collaboratively, gathering team members and talking through the challenge, you are far more likely to achieve your goal and to do it in a shorter amount of time. Why? Like atoms bouncing off of one another, insights create energy when they are combined.  And once you hit on the perfect combination, that clarity provides momentum. When everyone fully “gets” the concept, then you delegate tasks without losing cohesion.

At one point in TRON, Kevin Flynn says, “On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy.” Collaboration software, such as Google Docs and Slack, can be useful tools in coordinating team member contributions, but they cannot think for you. And that focus on finishing the assignment rather than solving the problem is “de-rezzing” your grades.

So, next time you get a group assignment, step away from the Google doc and toward a white board. Grab a pack of Post-Its and a Sharpie. Visualize your data. Start a dialogue.

Escape the machine.

TAI professor Amber Benson is a results-driven marketing executive and consultant with over 15 years of varied and progressive experience in strategy development, digital marketing, e-commerce and corporate communications. Benson is dedicated to building successful brands through design thinking, strategic intuition and relentless innovation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SMU-TAI’s Ad Team Brings Two Trophies Back to Temerlin

The 2018 SMU-TAI’s Ad Team, led by advisor Professor Amber Benson, competed with universities from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, in the AAF District 10 Convention, ADVENTION, in Corpus Christi, Texas on April 15, 2018. They placed third overall and took home a Special Judges Award for Best Market Segmentation in this year’s National Student Advertising Competition. Additionally, TAI students Avery Lewis and Alissa Llort were awarded AAF Tenth District Scholarships. All-in-all a great weekend!

Third Place and Special Judges Award for Best Market Segmentation

TAI student Harrison Fiveash said he could have not been more excited with the outcome in Corpus Christi. “Not only placing third, but receiving the Special Judges Award for Best Market Segmentation is a true testament to how hard and cohesively our team operated,” he said.

Strategy Development and Research

Ad Team members had been working hard since the beginning of the Spring 2018 semester when they began doing research and strategy development for Ocean Spray, this year’s national client. The challenge was to drive relevancy of the brand for older millennials across both food and beverages.

With the concept BREAK OUT OF THE BOG, the team created a memorable campaign designed to give older millennials, aged 25-34, new reasons to purchase Ocean Spray throughout the year, by leveraging the health benefits, and highlighting Ocean Spray’s responsibility to the environment and to their farmers.

The team was asked to target older millennials, but they broke it down a little further to reveal a sweet spot in the millennial market that would provide Ocean Spray the highest lifetime customer value. How? by introducing the HENRYs. A HENRY is a “High Earner that is Not Rich Yet.” They view the brands they buy as a reflection of themselves, and improve their personal brand equity by buying from brands that they have a positive relationship with. Since HENRYs are both early adopters and social influencers, investing in them would create a halo effect that would influence the rest of the 44 million older millennial target.

After harvesting research insights, the team came to the conclusion that when it comes to the HENRYs, the brand is bogged down. These millennials tend to buy Ocean Spray products during the fall-winter holiday season, are unaware of Ocean Spray’s extensive product line, are skeptical about health claims, and don’t know about all the amazing things Ocean Spray does as a company.

The team decided to build on the existing brand equity of Ocean Spray’s highly popular “Straight from the Bog” campaign by breaking the Bog Guys, Justin and Henry, out of the bog and placing them in scenarios which align with the interests and values of the target market. All they needed to do, was to BREAK OUT OF THE BOG.

Four team members, Amy Cooley, Harrison Fiveash, Alex Mackillop and Sara Jane Stephens presented the team’s work to a panel of industry judges at the competition, with the goal of leveraging Ocean Spray’s social responsibility and their healthier and celebration-worthy products; showing that Ocean Spray could become more than just a Thanksgiving staple, a sugar-filled juice cocktail, and another corporate name.

Presenting Team: Harrison, Sara Jane, Alex and Amy.

Going to Corpus Christi to compete in the National Student Advertising Competition was an incredible experience for Ad Team Leader Sara Jane Stephens. “It was so wonderful to see the team’s handwork pay off. Our presentation went really well, and Harrison, Amy, Alex and I had so much fun presenting our campaign to the judges and the audience,” she said. “I am really proud of the team and very grateful to Dr. Edwards and Professor Benson for their guidance and hard work.”

Ad Team Leader Amy Cooley believes the hard work and late nights that the team put into the entire campaign and presentation were validated by the awards received. “I could not be more excited to have received two awards at NSAC this year,” she said. “This experience more than anything has prepared me for the real world in advertising, and I’m so thankful to have been able to be a part of it all.”

Advertising majors are required to complete ADV 4399 Advertising Campaigns as part of their curriculum. This class combines major advertising theories with practice, allowing students to develop and present an advertising campaign to a real client based on current advertising challenges that the client is facing. Students that take Advertising Campaigns during the Spring semester have the opportunity to participate in the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC). Recent NSAC clients include Tai Pei Frozen Foods (2017) Snapple (2016) Pizza Hut (2015) Mary Kay (2014) Glidden Paint (2013) and Nissan (2012).

TAI Brand Management Student, Alissa Llort, said that being a member of SMU’s Ad Team was her most rewarding college experience. “I just loved the experience and would do it all over again,” she said. “Being part of the SMU Ad Team this semester allowed me to immerse into the actual process of building a campaign and experience the real advertising life!”

Ad Team Members in Corpus Christi, TX: Rita de Obarrio, Anne-Marie Geisler, Alex Mackillop, Harrison Fiveash, Sara Jane Stephens, Amy Cooley, Alissa Llort and Frank Zhang.
TAI Students and Faculty at the Awards Presentation in Corpus Christi, TX.

Please join the Temerlin Advertising Institute in congratulating this year’s SMU-TAI’s NSAC team on their outstanding work and accomplishments!

Members of the 2018 SMU-TAI’s NSAC team are: Hayley Banas, Myla Borden, Mary Charles Byers, Amy Cooley, Rita de Obarrio, Harrison Fiveash, Anne-Marie Geisler, Conrad Li, Alissa Llort, Alex Mackillop, London Mercer, Shelby Pointer, Juan Reyes, Sara Jane Stephens, Sara Ann Whiteley and Frank Zhang.

 

SMU-TAI’s Ad Team: Expectations for the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC)

Now that the campaign for Ocean Spray has been created, SMU-TAI’s Ad Team has begun to get their final presentation ready for the AAF District 10 competition in Corpus Christi, TX. The members that were selected to present the team’s work to a panel of judges shared their expectations for the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC).

Amy Cooley– Advertising major on the Strategic Brand Management and Spanish major. 

“This is my second year on Ad Team, so it feels good to know what to expect going into the competition. I think that our campaign strategy is really strong, and we have an incredible team of presenters (if I do say so myself) so I’m excited to see how all of our hard work is going to pay off!”

Alex MacKillop – Advertising major on the Strategic Brand Management track with minors in Business and International Studies.

“We have all worked extremely hard for this moment, so I think it will be very satisfying to see all our work come together in the final presentation. Everyone on the team contributed so much to this campaign and we are all very excited to see it through. “ 

Harrison Fiveash – Advertising major on the Strategic Brand Management track with minors in Communications and Arts Entrepreneurship.

“I cannot wait for all of our hard work to come to fruition. Amy and SJ have been great leaders throughout this process, leading the charge in both coordination and execution. Professor Benson has also been extremely helpful in balancing a hands-off approach with corrective guiding. While there may just be four of us presenting, it took a small army for everything to come together. I hope to win and eventually move on to Chicago, but if not at least we gained a lot of experience and felt the real pressures of a hypothetical campaign.”

Sara Jane Stephens – Advertising major on the Strategic Brand Management track with a minor in Spanish.

“I’m extremely excited for the upcoming NSAC competition in Corpus Christi. Amy, Harrison, Alex and I have a lot of energy, charisma, and chemistry on stage, which makes our presentation memorable. Not to mention, our campaign strategy is really thorough and definitely makes us a strong contender in the competition. We’ve put in a lot of long nights and hard work into this, and I know that will be clear during the presentation!”

SMU-TAI’s Presenting Team: Harrison, Sara Jane, Amy and Alex.

The team will present their integrated campaign at the AAF District 10 Convention, ADVENTION, on April 15, in Corpus Christi, Texas. The winning team(s) from each district will advance to the 2018 semi-finals, which will take place over two days, on May 2–3, 2018. Between 16 and 20 teams will compete for one of eight spots in the finals. Eight finalists will then compete for the national title at the annual ADMERICA conference, which will take place in Chicago, Illinois in early June.

TAI is confident in Ad Team’s effort, abilities and talent. We wish them the best of luck at the NSAC district competition this weekend!

For more information about NSAC please visit the competition website.

 

SMU Students Skip Spring Break. Swarm South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive

Spring break at SXSW Interactive in Austin. A group of Temerlin Advertising Institute and SMU MA/MBA students launched into conference sessions including:

The SXSW Interactive Festival spotlights speakers at the developing edge of technology and those using technology in innovative ways. Dr. Steven Edwards, Director of the Institute and program leader at SXSW said, “We are here to explore how new tech and related issues are impacting the field of advertising and marketing communications.”

Temerlin Advertising Institute Students SXSW
Temerlin Advertising Institute Group in Austin at SXSW 2018
  • Students spend five intensive days exploring keynotes, panel sessions, speakers, and networking events to apply interactive technologies to advertising issues.
  • Students will interview key executives about issues in advertising at the intersection of new technologies.
  • In addition, students will maintain daily accounts and analysis of activities and meetings, contribute to a class blog, and will produce a paper on an assigned topic.

The 2018 conference breaks sessions into tracks on: Brands & Marketing, Design, Development & Code, Experiential Storytelling, VR/AR, and the Intelligent Future. There are also tracks focused on Government, Health, the Tech Industry, Style, Workplace, Food, Journalism, Social Impact, and Sports.

TAI faculty and staff are attending and are offering opportunities for meet-ups at the conference.

Students complete the experience by integrating knowledge from the conference with readings on Digital Disruption to produce a final paper solving a problem at work, identifying an emerging use for the technology explored, or researching a related topic in more depth.

Exposure to cutting edge technology, interacting with industry visionaries, and application of creative ideas across disciplines positions our students as unique in their fields. Bringing these ideas to work in current or new positions creates a point of differentiation that employers value.

As of hour three, Hannah Tymochko, Digital Media Strategy senior already believes, “It’s been amazing to see such a diverse group of people coming from all over the world to experience SXSW!”

Meet New TAI Professor Dr. Yan Huang

Dr. Yan Huang

What made you want to become a professor?

I am curious. I always want to figure out a few things. I collect information to feed my curiosity. When I meet people with the same questions, I feel excited to share what I have learned with them. The whole process makes me happy. Luckily, these are exactly what professors do.

What class are you teaching this semester?

I am teaching ADV2301 Consumer Behavior this semester. In this class, we discuss theories and concepts of psychology and persuasion as they relate to how and why consumers make certain judgments and decisions. To me, the purpose of the class is two-fold. First, I hope to motivate students to think about the applications of these theories and concepts in advertising/marketing communications. Second, I hope students themselves can become better consumers and make informed decisions with knowledge gained from this class.

What is your area of expertise?

Broadly speaking, my background and expertise are in the area of strategic communication. My research gives special attention to the effects and mechanisms of strategic media messages and technologies in shaping consumer psychology, especially as they relate to health and socially responsible advertising. I am a quantitative researcher. I explore my research questions mostly by doing experiments, surveys, and meta-analyses.

What has been your favorite memory from teaching for TAI so far?

I’ve already had many good experiences with SMU students. Every week I gain something new. It is hard to choose…but if I have to…the favorite memory is when a group of five students came to my office on a Friday afternoon to talk about the different ways to approach their group project. I remember seeing the spark of curiosity and enthusiasm in their eyes.

What is your favorite part about being a professor?

My favorite part is that I get to meet different students every semester, know their stories, share what I’ve learned with them, and help them when they are in need. I hope I can make a valuable contribution to knowledge with my research and use the knowledge to cultivate young minds.

Have you taught before? 

I had taught at Penn State for two years before I came to SMU. I taught a research method class for advertising/public relations majors and also an online course on research analytics in strategic communication.

Are you currently doing any research? 

Yes, I have a few ongoing projects. One important theme is about the effectiveness of narrative advertising. While past research focuses on the immediate impact of stories, my research has revealed that messages telling stories are also more persuasive than argument-based messages in the long term. This is because narrative exposure can trigger more self-related thoughts on the advocated issue by engaging individuals experientially. Moreover, individuals who have read narrative messages will show greater resistance to counterarguments they encounter at a later time.

What is one interesting fact about you?

I used to play a video game named BombSquad with my husband. We had kept the doubles world record for quite a while.

To find out more about Dr. Huang, check out her page on the TAI website.

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.”