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Around the Columns

Group finds effective ads


Journalism major Hyejin Kim of Cheongju, South Korea, uses research to build a better public service announcement. Photo by Rob Hill

Hyejin Kim, a senior journalism major from Cheongju, South Korea, loves commercials. “I like all kinds of advertising,” Kim says. “I thought it would be great to learn how to create powerful advertising, instead of just watching it.”

Kim says successful advertising is not magic. If advertisers have a better understanding of how people respond to an ad, they can get their message across more efficiently. In Paul Bolls’ psychology of advertising class, Kim increased her understanding of advertising by conducting a research project.

Kim’s group examined how public service announcements warn against binge drinking and how gain vs. loss framing affects the success of an ad. In this case, the gain-frame messages show the positive effects of not binge drinking, and loss-frame ads show the negative effects of binge drinking. The group investigated anti-binge drinking PSAs and found that they were all loss-frame ads. So they created new ones (using both frames) based on research, showed them to sample groups and measured their effectiveness using a questionnaire.

Kim, who plans to continue her study of advertising and marketing in graduate school, says the opportunity to conduct research as an undergraduate helped prepare her for future academic endeavors. “I learned how to conduct an experiment and broaden my advertising insight through science,” she says. She also gained a valuable lesson in patience.

“I found out from the research that the first idea is not always the best idea. While our team was creating the PSAs, we experienced hundreds of redos. But we finally made it!”