In Advertising

Convocation for the College of Fine Arts and Communications will take place at 11 a.m. on August 17

After a short time as a psychology major, advertising senior Dallin Adams realized two things — the psychology major was not for him and he loved the idea of how and why people they think the way they do. Knowing that he also loved design, Adams knew he could utilize his passions and his skills and thrive in communications.

“I’m not in the advertising creative track,” said Adams, “I’m more involved in the research aspect. I like doing the researching behind advertising in order to see what kind of differences can be made. I love being able to take that research and apply it into a medium that reaches everyone.” 

One of the ads Adams and his teammates created. Photo courtesy of Dallin Adams.

As he reflects on his academic career, Adams said he is most proud of a “Driving Under the Influence (DUI)” prevention campaign he completed as part of an account management class. The class teamed up with R&R Partners, an ad agency headquartered here in Utah, to create ads for the Utah Department of Public Safety and Utah Highway Patrol.

The objective of the campaign was to shift gears on how DUI campaigns are run. Adams explained that most DUI campaigns focus on intimidating language such as, ‘This is what could happen if you drive drunk — you could kill someone, end up in the hospital, receive a lot of fines etc.’

“I took issue with that,” said Adams. “I wanted to do something positive with the messaging of this DUI campaign. We decided we’d turn it on its head a little bit. We didn’t want to say, ‘You’ll be in trouble if you drive drunk,’ we wanted to say, ‘We want you to get home safely. There are people who care about you who want you to get home safely. Don’t drive drunk because we want you to be okay.’

“I believe changing that type of messaging can ultimately change behavior. Negative messaging or threats can temporarily change attitudes, but we want a lasting behavioral shift. We thought this positive route was a good way to help eliminate drunk drinking.”

The head of media at the Utah Highway Patrol came to their class, watched each team present and ultimately loved Adams and his teammates’ campaign the best and decided it deserved to win. They are hoping to see the ads around Utah over the next few years.

Adams said his dream is to use the media as a positive outlet. In an allusion to Mad Men, communications Professor Pat Doyle once told Adams, “We are here at BYU to learn how to be Mormon Mad Men and Women. You’re meant to go out and influence the world for good. There’s so much filth in the media right now and we don’t need more of that. We’re here to combat that.”

Those words have resonated with Adams and he wants to remind fellow advertising students that “their focus as they move forward in the industry is to combat the negative messaging out in the world and to make a positive difference through their skills. I would also encourage them to take a moment and shut out what everyone else thinks and figure out where he or she individually wants to go.”

Since September 2015, Adams has worked at the BYU Biometrics Lab, formerly known as the eye-tracking lab. He said serving in a managerial capacity for the last two years has been a great opportunity to conduct research and observe how to influence media with research.

At the lab, Adams and his co-workers observe people as they look at computer screens. They are able to see where on the screen an individual is looking and receive deeper insights into what people are thinking and feeling, as well as what kind of media they’re consuming.

Adams said, “We also have other instruments like facial recognition devices that tell us what people are feeling as they look at things, and galvanic skin response devices that tell us the intensity of emotions. When we combine those different instruments, we get a better idea of how people feel about media and what we can do to change and be better when it comes to the media we create.”

Adams with his mentor, Professor Kevin John. Photo courtesy of Dallin Adams.

The Biometrics Lab also conducts research on domestic abuse. Adams shared that they are trying to figure out what kind of messages in PSAs are the most effective. They want to know what will get victims the help they need. He said the goal is “not simply being good at what we do, but being good while we do what we do.”

Adams names Professors Mark Callister and Kevin John as examples of those who taught him the significance of being good. He is grateful for these professors’ examples and the influence they have had on him in his decision to continue with school and earn master’s and doctorate degrees.

“Kevin John is my mentor,” said Adams. “He has always looked out for me. He’s the director of the lab and has taught two of my classes. I have a really close relationship with him. He’s helping me as I further my education. He’s been helping me all along the way and has been a real big influence.”

This fall, Adams will start the Mass Communications master’s program here at BYU. “Ultimately, I want to teach. It’ll allow me to continue to do research, which is what I’m enjoying right now. By continuing on and getting a master’s degree and PhD, I can continue to research and do the things I enjoy with communications.”


What did you want to be when you grew up? 

Adams and his wife, Holly. Photo courtesy of Dallin Adams.

“When I was little, I wanted to be a firefighter but I didn’t know they were fire fighters. I thought they were fighter fighters, which is a much cooler name. I knew that they fought fires but to me, the name was still fighter fighter.”

Where do you find inspiration?

“I think I’m still trying to figure that out in some ways. I’m trying to figure out where I find my inspiration. My wife is awesome. She helps me a lot. Also, good friends and family; spending time with good people is a big factor.”

What was the hardest challenge you had to overcome at BYU?

“Getting out of a singles ward and getting married.” 

What is your favorite snack to eat?

“My snacks tend to be big, so they’re more like a meal but my favorite is mac and cheese. If I were a food I’d be mac and cheese — warm, cheesy and comforting.”

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