Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication

First Advisor

Su Jung Kim


Suspense has been used as a tool that helps to keep audiences’ attention during a course of a story. It has been studied in the context of a wide range of narrative genres. Attracting and maintaining attention is critical in advertising because of the abundance of audio-visual stimuli in the current media environment. Current research about suspenseful commercials is mainly focused on a combination of hope and fear emotional responses. However, there are very few studies showing how suspense is generated in commercials.

This study attempts to find out factors that create suspense in commercials by conducting a content analysis of suspenseful and non-suspenseful commercials and compares their characteristics. A total of 203 awards winning commercials of The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity under the category “Film” from 2012 to 2014 were chosen as the sample of this study. Two coders were trained and then coded these commercials independently from three main aspects: the structure and content of commercials, emotional appeals used in commercials, and the time of brand- or product-related information shown in commercials.

The results of this study show that suspenseful commercials tend to be non-or less verbal and use more number of emotional appeals than non-suspenseful commercials. Among four types of emotional appeals (fear, hope, humor, fantasy), humor and fantasy appeals are used more frequently. The results also show that suspenseful commercials tend to show less information of products or brands than non-suspenseful commercials.


Copyright Owner

Chen Liang



File Format


File Size

48 pages

Included in

Communication Commons