323 Gregory Hall



  • PhD in Communications, 1997, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 
  • MA in Journalism and Mass Communication, 1991, University of Wisconsin-Madison 
  • BS in English, 1989, University of Wisconsin-Madison


  • Associate Professor Advertising 
  • Institute of Communications Research 
  • European Union Center (Affiliate) 
  • Family Resiliency Center (Affiliate)

Course Specialties

  • Qualitative Research in Advertising 
  • Global Advertising 
  • Audience Analysis

Nelson’s research, professional marketing communication experience and teaching focus primarily on international advertising and consumer behavior. She has conducted research, taught or worked in Austria, Denmark and England. Nelson has published more than 50 book chapters and articles in leading journals such as Journal of Advertising, International Journal of Advertising, Journal of Advertising Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology and Journal of Public Relations Research. In addition to 15 years of teaching, Nelson also brings professional experience in nonprofit, trade and high-tech organizations.

Research/Creative Endeavor
Nelson’s early research examined individual differences with respect to persuasion and consumer behavior (e.g., gender, culture). However, she is probably best known for her research on brands in entertainment (e.g., games, movies) and information content (e.g., video news releases). While investigating the prevalence and response to branded messages, Nelson became interested in consumers’ literacy or persuasion knowledge about these so-called hidden brand techniques. As a result, Nelson’s current research and public engagement endeavors focus on advertising and persuasion literacy. For example, Nelson is pursuing longitudinal ethnographic work with parents and pre-school children to understand the development of consumer literacy. At the same time, Nelson is interested in assessing advertising/consumer literacy among adults and understanding how literacy influences the persuasion process and marketplace behaviors.

Nelson is also pursuing research related to using advertising techniques to “sell” healthier behaviors.

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