Research Paper #2

Research Paper #2: Advertising Analysis

DESCRIPTION: For this assignment, you’ll select a print advertisement. We highly recommend full-page advertisements in print magazines, but other print ads can work as well. (Don’t use an online ad.)

Your task is to assess the effectiveness of the advertisement, paying close attention to its likely purpose, its context (the media product it appears in), its content, and its likely target market.

You should make a case about what the aim of the ad was, and whether it achieved that aim.

One challenge of advertisement analysis today is that advertising campaigns are spread over a variety of media. Consider looking at the broader context of the campaign of which your ad was a part; you might mention how your ad was like, or unlike, others in the campaign in your essay.

In your analysis, use at least two outside, authoritative sources in the development of your argument. (Apart from lectures and required readings, especially from Week 11, which you’ll also use.)  In choosing the articles to help you analyze this ad, remember: you don’t have to agree with the authors of the articles you use, but you have to show that you understand how those authors would interpret the advertisement you’ve chosen. For help finding journal articles, please see our Writing Resources page.


  • 1400-1600 words
  • Times New Roman, 12pt font, double-spaced
  • A title
  • A clearly stated thesis that is underlined in your text
  • Evidence to support your thesis
  • APA style for in-text citations and reference list
  • Include the ad you’ve selected as an appendix to your paper. You can scan it, take a photo, use an app like Turboscan to digitize it, or search for a digital version. If color plays an important part in the ad, make sure your TA has a color version.
  • At least two outside, authoritative sources (outside, meaning in addition to readings and lectures from class; authoritative, meaning scholarly, so a media kit isn’t one of your two — see our Writing Resources page for help with this)
  • A heading that is formatted like this at the top-left of your paper and has all the same components:

Annie McStudent
J201 – Section 307
February 22, 2018
Word Count: 1565

DEADLINES: First draft is due to Turnitin and to your peer reviewers by email on Thursday, April 12 by midnight. (Depending on the size of your section, these will be different peers than those you had for your first research paper. Your TA will assign them sometime before April 12.)

Final draft is due to Turnitin on Thursday, April 26 by midnight.

DETAILS: To make your case, consider these questions:

  •  What was the ad’s intended function? Why do you think this?
    • This will require a little bit of detective work: consider thinking about the nature of the product being advertised, and whom the marketers might be trying to reach.
  • How well does the ad perform that function? What is your evidence for this?
  • Where was it placed? Why was it placed there? (To learn about the magazine the ad appeared in, look for the magazine’s media kit, which will contain information about the audience of the magazine.)
  • What principles of persuasion were utilized in the ad? What might be the effects on the audience? (Be sure to use lecture content from April 6).
  • Would you say that this ad addresses some of the challenges that strategic communicators and marketing professionals are facing today? (Professor Douglas McLeod’s guest lecture on April 2 might be very relevant here)

HONORS STUDENTS: If you are taking this course for honors (you’d know if you were and you’ve already completed library training), you have a different assignment sheet that you got via email from me and that we discussed. Don’t do this assignment!