Meet the faculty: Hayoung “Sally” Lim, assistant professor of cultural diversity and brand responsibility

Sally Lim
Photo by Jeremy Parker.

Hometown: Seoul, South Korea

Primary Research Interests: Brand activism, CSR, brand crisis communication, consumer behavior and psychology on social media

Favorite Quote: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” –Leonardo da Vinci

Say “hello!”: Connect with her on LinkedIn and Facebook.

How often do you click the “skip ad” button when you watch a video? If you’re like most people, you probably fast-forward an advertisement whenever you get the chance.

The UO School of Journalism and Communication’s (SOJC) new assistant professor of cultural diversity and brand responsibility, Hayoung “Sally” Lim, is an exception. She always watches advertisements in full because she is innately passionate about the industry.

Lim graduated from Korea University in 2016, and although she always dreamed about working in an agency as a creative and lead account executive, she wanted to continue her studies. Upon finishing her undergrad, she moved to the United States to attend the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) to earn master’s and doctorate degrees in advertising.

Lim’s high productivity as a doctoral student is uncommon. She published 13 articles in peer-reviewed journals — 3 as the first author and 6 as the second author. Her research explores the interaction between organizations and consumers on social media in the context of a variety of social issues, including brand authenticity, privacy, information avoidance and crisis communication. Perhaps most important, she has examined the impact of these issues on marginalized communities and underrepresented groups.

We had the opportunity to talk with Lim about her research and future at the SOJC.

Why does the interaction between organizations and consumers on social media matter?

I understand social media as an important platform where organizations and consumers meet and interact as activists. People want the brands they support to take a stance on important social issues, and social media is the place for it. Hopefully, it can be a source of two-way communication, where organizations take a stance on an issue and consumers respond to that stance. Or consumers often ask organizations to take a stance on other issues and engage in solving them. Such interactions are based on listening to each other, and social media has enabled everyone, including marginalized communities and underrepresented groups, to speak out.

Your research suggests that brands and consumers can “walk the talk” while addressing social issues and contributing to a better society. What does it mean for an organization to “walk the talk?”

It includes any small interactions between brands and consumers, talking about a variety of sociopolitical issues and discussing how to make a better society. I understand brand responsibility and further activism as a continuous work of questioning, listening, and answering to work on the issues. As a researcher, I wish for a more constructive conversation between organizations and consumers on social media, by examining how brands can deliver their messages more effectively, how consumers would react to it, and how brands listen and respond to consumers in developing their brand responsibility communication.

How did you come to study brand responsibility?

My first advertising class was in consumer behavior and psychology, and it changed everything in my life in terms of interests, career pursuits and dreams. While expanding my research interests during my doctorate program, I started working with SOJC alum Erica Ciszek, who was studying LGBTQ communication. Since I’m interested in brand communication and brand activism, we combined our passions and skills into focusing on LGBTQ brand activism. Together, we have produced several publications and received a research grant for our work. Now, I’m expanding my research to other areas of brand responsibility in different sociopolitical issues as well as the role of advertising in delivering brand responsible messages and continuing the conversation with consumers and society.

What do you hope your students take away from your teaching?

I design my courses to teach hard skills that they can include in a resume, like Google Analytics or data visualization, but also soft skills they can use in developing advertising campaigns and brand storytelling. I put an emphasis on storytelling capabilities with dynamics of key elements in data, visuals, and narratives to transforming business problems to human solutions as well as solving the client’s problems. As my first advertising class changed my career and my life, I hope that my classes can also open the eyes of my students and influence them to pursue advertising. It would be a real honor for me.

Why did you decide to come to the SOJC?

One of the biggest reasons is that I’m interested in expanding my research in brand activism, and that my research resonates with the research direction the SOJC is currently pursuing. The SOJC pioneered creating and designing the Advertising and Brand Responsibility Master’s Program and I understand it as such a progressive and essential direction for both industry and academy. I feel lucky that I can start and develop my first career not only in the SOJC’s student-center, collegial environment but also their direction resonating with my research and interests.

What are you excited about your work at the SOJC?

I can’t wait to start my new career — everything is full of excitement! The SOJC has wonderful faculty members and I’m excited to build relationships with them and meet new students. Since research is certainly a passion of mine, I welcome undergraduate and graduate students who want to explore my interests. I have also worked for two years as an undergraduate Internship program coordinator in the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations at UT Austin, where I helped hundreds of students with from finding an internship to reviewing their work performance and successfully completing both coursework and internship. Based on my professional experience, I would love to help the SOJC students’ smooth transition from school to a professional world.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I’m excited about the weather and beautiful nature in Oregon. I may miss Texas’ warm winters, but I like four seasons and am eager to experience the wildlife here. I enjoy hiking with my dog, a 2-year-old Pyrenees and American Staffordshire Terrier mix. You can probably spot us in Alton Baker Park because she likes to play with the other dogs. I also like horseback riding and am trying to find a stable near me. 

—By Whitney Conaghan, class of ’23

Whitney Conaghan, class of ’23, is a public relations major and multimedia minor. She is currently working as a social media and writing intern for the SOJC’s Communication Team.