Lu Zheng, University of Florida – Narrative Advertising

Ads that use storytelling can be the most persuasive in getting you to pony up your dollars.

Lu Zheng, Assistant Professor in the Department of Advertising, College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida, examines one’s psychological transportation in advergaming.

Dr. Lu Zheng is an Assistant Professor of Advertising at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. Dr. Zheng teaches both undergraduate and graduate-level courses on Media Planning, Media Math and Research, Advertising Research, Advanced Media Planning, and Advertising Theory. Dr. Zheng has won two national awards for her research on narrative persuasion, including the 2010 Doctoral Research Grant Competitions from the American Academy of Advertising and the 2011 Best Conference Paper Award from the American Academy of Advertising’s Annual Conference. Dr. Zheng’s research interests include construction of persuasion model, persuasion via narrative advertising, advergaming, media psychology, OTC advertising, entertainment studies and cross-cultural studies. Her work has been published in Advertising Theory, Advances in International Marketing, International Journal of Advertising, Asian Journal of Communication, Journal of Radio and Audio Media, among others. Dr. Zheng earned her Ph.D. in Mass Communication with a cognate in Statistics from the University of Alabama. Before enrolling in graduate school, Dr. Zheng was a news reporter with Xinhua News Agency in Beijing, China. During the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Dr. Zheng worked as a trilingual (English, French, and Chinese) news reporter and photographer for Village Life, the official daily publication circulated inside the Olympic Village. She was also a reporter and photographer for China Daily,, and a columnist for 21st Century during the 2008 Olympics. She was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation by the U.S. Olympic Committee for her journalistic work. Dr. Zheng was accepted in the Advertising Educational Foundation’s (AEF) 2016 Visiting Professor Program (VPP) as one of the 16 nationally selected professors to participate in a two-week fellowship for professors of advertising, marketing, communications and liberal arts.

Narrative Advertising


Human brains are naturally wired to grasp and retain information in a story format. And storytelling constitutes one of the most fundamental methods for human beings to pass and disseminate knowledge from one generation to the next.

I am particularly intrigued by the psychological process that one undertakes in narrative advertising across media. Narrative advertising refers to advertising messages that use stories rather than arguments to persuade people. Empirical research has consistently found that narrative advertising tends to be more persuasive than argument advertising in eliciting more favorable brand attitude and stronger purchase intent.

My long term research goal is to develop a potent statistical model that explains and predicts narrative persuasion. The completion of the model entails continued research to identify all the potential factors that may influence the processing of narrative advertising in different media.  An exploration of narrative persuasion in digital media, advergames in particular, is also part of the research.

In my current advergaming study, the game story is purposely crafted to market the brand. The study also assesses the impacts of background music and different types of advergames on the user’s processing of information and ensuing belief changes.

The research findings will have theoretical and practical implications. Theoretically, we hope to better understand the effect of narrative persuasion in advergames. Practically, the research findings will help marketers increase ROI by crafting more engaging and persuasive content.


  1. Wan Xin
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