Kyle McKiernan, Marketing, Class of 2020, was in Dr. JC Blewitt’s FYE (now HCE) class when he arrived on campus in the fall of 2016. Now more than five years from that class and a year and a half after Kyle’s graduation, the two are now co-authors in an academic journal.

Their work, “Imagery Usage in Non-Profit Advertisements: A Case for Millennial Consumers” is published in the most recent issue of The International Journal of Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The project examines preference for ad-imagery using regulatory focus theory, suggesting that Millennial consumers are more promotion-focused and default to ads with more positive imagery than negative. The topic was inspired by how certain non-profits historically “guilted” their audiences into making donations by illustrating the struggles of a specific groups (think starving children, un-adopted dogs, etc.). McKiernan and Blewitt’s research suggests that it is actually in the non-profit’s best interest to shift away from this paradigm and market positive brand imagery should Millennials be a target market.

McKiernan was a recipient of the McGowan Ethics Center's Student-Faculty Research Grant in 2018, when the project commenced. That summer and ensuing fall, the two collaborated on the process of doing academic research, building and distributing a survey, and presenting empirical data in a campus forum organized and hosted by the McGowan Center. The co-authors then submitted and presented their work to the URC (Undergraduate Research Conference) at Butler University in the Spring of 2019. Revisions of the work continued through the early pandemic and into 2021, when the two started looking for outlets for publication. And now, Kyle and JC have reached the ultimate finish line of the research process with their names in print as published authors.