Through her research, Rhoda Olaleye seeks to spur increased awareness and better targeted advertising of sunscreen products to people of color. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)
Ph.D. Profile: Rhoda Olaleye
Rhoda Olaleye is a third-year Ph.D. student focusing on advertising methods in emerging and existing communication spaces, more specifically social media. Her research explores the impact of social media advertising on consumer behavior as well as the outcomes of consumer interaction with social media influencers and personalities. Her current research examines the effectiveness of skinfluencer advertising through source credibility on the attitudes and behavioral intentions of people of color and has relevance in both health and science communication.
Prior to Grady, Olaleye worked at a media print house in Houston, Texas, where she gained experience in graphic design, content creation and content writing.
Following is a brief interview with Olaleye.
GC: What made you decide to pursue your Ph.D.?
RO: The need for more knowledge in my chosen area of specialty. I’m currently a third-year Mass Communications major with a focus in Advertising and an idea of what I want, careerwise, after graduation. But, I wasn’t always that sure of my career direction. Although I loved communications, I never had an “aha” moment that helped decide what area of communications I wanted to specialize in until I took an advertising class close to the completion of my master’s program. After graduation, I finally figured out my desired niche in advertising but felt like I wasn’t well equipped to move forward with the little I knew. I decided to pursue a Ph.D. because the program offered a structured avenue for me to learn more about a plethora of advertising approaches and elevate my already existing knowledge in the field with experienced and advanced educators.
GC: What do you hope to do once you get your degree?
RO: I hope to work in the advertising industry once I get my degree. My interests have been deeply entrenched in strategic communications as well as brand management, and I believe that my enrollment in this program has provided me with the advanced capability to synthesize complex problems while delivering visible solutions, which is an asset in the industry.
GC: What made you decide to come to Grady College?
RO: The program as well as the testimonial of current students. The University of Georgia is known for its high educational quality, and Grady College can be identified as one of the contributors to its prestige. Based on my online research, Grady College was described as a place where career preparation and student involvement were taken seriously. As my goals were career driven, my application was a no brainer.
GC: Please provide a brief explanation of your thesis topic and why it’s important to you.
RO: My dissertation is titled “Race and Sunrays: effects of skinfluencer credibility on consumer attitudes and behavioral intentions of people of color towards sunscreen.”
With the understanding that sunrays are an equal opportunity offender with no regard to ethnicity or race, this study intends to discover existing myths and beliefs that influence the use and purchase of sunscreens by people of color. It also intends to examine the effectiveness of influencer advertising through source credibility on the attitudes and behavioral intentions of people of color. Due to the idea that melanin provides certain protection from sun exposure, there has been a gap in the education of people of color in regards to their susceptibility to skin conditions such as melanoma, hyperpigmentation, etc.
This study is important to me because I hope it’s completion will spur a need for higher awareness and better targeted advertising of sunscreen products to people of color and assist in reducing their risk to various skin conditions connected with sun exposure.
GC: What other projects (research, teaching or otherwise) have you been involved with as a doctoral student?
RO: From my first year until now, I have worked as a research assistant on a humor-focused NSF research project under Dr. Michael Cacciatore. Although this research has strong roots in health and science communications, I find myself learning immensely from my experience.
GC: What has been the highlight of your doctoral education to date?
RO: The highlight of my doctoral education has to be the unending access to like-minded individuals. With my time spent in Grady, I truly believe that there are individuals always willing to assist and answer questions. In my opinion, this makes the entire academic journey much more pleasurable.