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Recent Emory College graduate wins national essay contest on advertising and society

Emory Report | May 31, 2016

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Maddie Clifton (pictured) and her senior thesis adviser, Kim Loudermilk, will travel to New York City in June for Clifton to receive the Alfred J. Seaman Award for Best Undergraduate Essay on Advertising and Society from the Advertising Educational Foundation.

Recent Emory College of Arts and Sciences graduate Maddie Clifton has won the Alfred J. Seaman Award for Best Undergraduate Essay on Advertising and Society from the Advertising Educational Foundation (AEF).

Clifton, a double major in political science and interdisciplinary studies, won the award for her essay, “There Certainly is More to Fear Than Fear Itself.” Her work compared the infamous “Daisy” television ad from the 1964 presidential campaign to the 2004 attack ad, “Swiftboat Veterans for Truth.”

Kim Loudermilk, a senior lecturer in the Institute of the Liberal Arts and Clifton’s adviser, says both spots aired when the country was at war and there was significant political polarization, delivering messages that played on fear.

“Her contention is that certain time periods make for a more fearful electorate and make people more susceptible to fear-based advertising,” Loudermilk says.

Clifton’s research became the centerpiece of her senior thesis studying the role political advertising has had on political polarization, as well as advertising’s reaction to that trend.

Clifton, who begins working in Emory’s Office of Undergraduate Admission on June 1, won $1,000 for her work. Her paper is now under consideration for publication in the AEF journal, Advertising and Society Review.

Both she and Loudermilk will travel to New York City for the foundation’s Honors Night event on June 14.

The AEF is a non-profit organization that provides and distributes educational content to enrich the understanding of advertising and its role in society, culture and the economy.  The Seaman award is presented for an original paper that focuses on the role of advertising in culture and society.