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UW-Eau Claire senior is author on two Super Bowl research papers

RELEASED: April 14, 2011

Ashley Hofer
Ashley Hofer

EAU CLAIRE — A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire senior from Osseo is among the authors of two articles that will be published this spring in prestigious marketing journals.

Since her freshman year, Ashley Hofer, a communications major and marketing minor, has been part of a faculty-student team that has done extensive research relating to Super Bowl advertising. The research team recently had confirmations from two journals that articles relating to their Super Bowl research will be published.

"Super Bowl Ads Linked to Firm Value Enhancement" will be published in the Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness and "Super Bowl Ad Likeability: Enduring and Emerging Predictors" will be published in the Journal of Marketing Communications.

"There cannot be many marketing undergraduates around the world with two journal publications set to be printed before they graduate," said Dr. Chuck Tomkovick, a marketing professor who worked with Hofer on the research. "The key to Ashley's productivity was jumping on a research project her freshman year and staying with it. This is a testament to Ashley's hard work and scholarly dedication."

Work on manuscripts for professional journals takes years to complete, said Dr. Rama Yelkur, a marketing professor who is part of the research team. In academe, authors go through a review, submission, revision and acceptance process before seeing their work in print, she said.

"These are not generally outlets for undergraduate student work so it's impressive that Ashley was dedicated enough to see these projects to completion and publication," Yelkur said.

Hofer's work included data analysis and manuscript development, Yelkur said, noting that she also wrote a significant amount of the two articles. Hofer also completed a literature review that yielded articles the researchers integrated into their theory construction, she said.

"One of my favorite aspects of working with the projects was just how involved the professors let me get with the research," Hofer said. "I'd heard stories of how younger students are often assigned to necessary but mundane tasks in their first year of research. It was a different situation for me. I started out coding Super Bowl ads, hunting for relevant past research articles and even writing portions of the literature review. It was interesting to be so involved with the projects and be a part of the entire research process, from the hypotheses to the finished articles."

UW-Eau Claire's commitment to undergraduate student research made it possible for Hofer to participate so completely in the research, Tomkovick said, noting that Hofer became involved in the project as a Blugold Fellow, a UW-Eau Claire program that brings freshman with an interest in research together with a faculty mentor for two years.

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs provided additional funding and encouragement, which allowed Hofer to participate in the research for more than three years, including during several summers, Tomkovick said.

"I was hesitant about joining the Blugold Fellows at first because I wasn't sure how the collegiate research process worked and as a freshman it seemed a little intimidating," Hofer said. "However, joining the research team has been one of the best decisions I have ever made."

A sports fan, Hofer said she quickly became interested in Tomkovick and Yelkur's work on Super Bowl advertising.

"While there was much more to it, I always joked with my friends that my 'homework' was to watch Super Bowl commercials," Hofer said. "It's always more interesting to work with something you love, and for me, sports marketing research was a perfect fit."

The Super Bowl advertisements are an especially interesting niche within the sports marketing field, Hofer said.

"These ads run for just 30 seconds on Super Bowl Sunday, but they have a huge impact," Hofer said. "This project opened my eyes to all the elements of an ad. It was fascinating to analyze the commercials and their resulting influence on the companies."

The research experience will likely help her as she launches her career after she graduates in December, Hofer said.

"My dream has been to work in the communications or marketing department of a professional sports team or league," Hofer said. "It's a very competitive field, but I've worked hard throughout my college career to achieve this goal. This sports marketing research obviously ties in with my career path. In addition to boosting my resume, I learned a lot about key concepts and techniques related to successful campaigns. This knowledge could come into play in my future career. Also, I gained a lot of confidence by working with this research."

The JMDC article focuses on financial gains for firms that participate in Super Bowl advertising. Researchers found that Super Bowl stocks outperformed the S&P 500 by more than 1.0 percentage point. They concluded that advertising during the Super Bowl may be a tradable event independent of actual ad content, ad popularity or industry category.

The JMC article is a replication and extension of Tomkovick and Yelkur's 2001 study, which identified five predictors of ad likability. In their new study, researchers found that humor, animals and product category were enduring predictors of ad likeability, while product information and the presence of children were emerging predictors of ad likeability. The team also determined that the amount of product information provided in Super Bowl commercials was inversely related to ad likeability.

"It's still a little hard to believe because of how quickly everything happened," Hofer said of having both articles published while she is still an undergraduate. "It seems we were just celebrating the publishing of the stock price project when we received the acceptance letter for publication of the ad likeability article. I knew from the get-go that the ultimate goal for these projects was publication, but the weight, and the importance, of accomplishing these goals really sunk in just recently. I feel thankful to have been a part of these projects. From the submission process, I learned how difficult it is to get manuscripts ready for publication, so I feel doubly blessed to have been a contributor on two articles by my third year of college."

Hofer, Tomkovick, Yelkur and Daniel Rozumalski, a 2010 marketing graduate who now lives in De Pere, are listed as authors on both articles. Cory Coulombe, a business graduate student, also is an author on one of the articles to be published.

For more information, contact Dr. Chuck Tomkovick at 715-836-2529 or tomkovcl@uwec.edu; Dr. Rama Yelkur at 715-836-4674 or yelkurr@uwec.edu; or Ashley Hofer at hoferan@uwec.edu.

-30-

JB/DW

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