Writing an Advertising Thesis
WHEN I BECAME A JOURNALISM STUDENT in the fall of 2000, I knew I wanted to write a thesis. While the thought of a thesis overwhelmed me, it was an accomplishment I wanted to achieve during my time at Marshall University.
I became a grad student in 2005 with a concentration in Advertising, a minor in Women's Studies, and a new confidence and focus as a student. I was excited to learn and, although still nervous about the thesis, ready to tackle it. In class one day, Professor Dooley had each student choose an advertising related book to read. I chose Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, and Erastus: Blacks in Advertising Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow by Marilyn Kern-Foxworth. Not only was I blown away by the content of this book, I realized what my thesis would focus on Aunt Jemima, Betty Crocker, and how these icons, and other advertisements, influence public perceptions of women and race.
I read everything I could get my hands on, took lots of notes, printed tons of articles, and wrote several versions of the first chapter. Once my thesis committee was finalized, I presented my idea. Although the document was a very rough draft, my committee liked the idea and helped me develop it into a truly scholarly research paper. At times I wanted to give up, and wondered why I wanted to write a thesis in the first place. But I pushed through, and eventually, I was standing in Drinko Library printing copies of my completed 100 plus page thesis to present to my committee. Defending my thesis was scary, exciting, exhilarating, and very surreal. After a private meeting, my committee announced that I had passed! The feeling of accomplishment made all the tough times worth it. Months later when I received the hardcover printed copy of my thesis, I felt so proud. My experience writing a thesis taught me the importance of patience, perseverance, organization, and self-confidence. My advice to future thesis-track students would be to give yourself plenty of time, don't be afraid to make mistakes or change your mind, take breaks when needed, and keep track of every source you use. I realize how daunting writing a thesis can seem, but I highly encourage any student who is considering it to go for it!
My thesis, Ladies on the Label: A Meta-Analysis of Stereotypes in Advertising, examines the presence of female and racial stereotypes in advertising, and their influence on audience viewpoints through a meta-analysis of ten studies. The thesis includes a historical examination of advertising icons Aunt Jemima and Betty Crocker, and a discussion of how they have perpetuated both female and racial stereotypes for decades. It examines the treatment of these icons, their aesthetic development throughout the years, and how their stories parallel gender and race issues in society.
I received my Master's degree from Marshall University in 2007 and moved to the Charlotte, NC area shortly thereafter. Currently, I’m the Manager of Communications for the Association on Higher Education And Disability (AHEAD). I edit and layout brochures, books, and our scholarly journal, the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability; prepare all conference and workshop marketing materials; and learning how to plan and manage events. Every day at my job, I use skills that I learned during my time as a student at Marshall University. From editing and layout, to ethical questions about the content and presentation of certain topics. Each piece of my educational puzzle plays a role in my life today. Editing the Associations’s journal has allowed me to gain a strong grasp of APA style, a skill that will come in useful when I pursue my Ph.D. someday.