March 24, 2020 • By Xanat Hernandez
Connie (Cornelia) Pechmann, professor of marketing at the UCI Paul Merage School of Business, was honored with the inaugural Academic Senate Special Award for Impact on Society and also the first AMA-EBSCO Annual Responsible Research in Marketing Award presented by the American Marketing Association and EBSCO.
The UCI Faculty Senate Award recognizes Pechmann’s innovative Tweet2Quit study, an online peer support resource for adult smokers trying to quit tobacco use.
“I’ve always been highly motivated to study how to combat tobacco use because of its effects on my own relatives,” she said. “Tweet2Quit can reach smokers that are economically disadvantaged—some can barely pay their bills and others are homeless.”
The study, which is currently in its fifth and final year, has demonstrated significant success in reducing tobacco use among participants. Over 1,000 smokers trying to quit from across the country are split into peer support groups of 20 on Twitter. Pechmann created a bot to ask daily discussion questions and help keep members of the group active and accountable. Ultimately, Pechmann’s goal is to provide the program free of charge to all smokers who want to quit on the government’s smokefree.gov site.
Pechmann’s previous work with tobacco resulted in the California Department of Health Services persuading major movie studios to place anti-smoking ads before PG movies that feature smoking.
“I’m honored just to be a part of the amazing faculty at UCI,” said Pechmann. “To win this award when so many of my colleagues are producing amazing work—it’s just phenomenal and I’m deeply honored.”
The announcement that Pechmann had also won the AMA-EBSCO award came shortly after.
Pechmann and her team—Jesse R. Catlin of CSU Sacramento and Dr. Eric Brass of UCLA —were selected out of 70 nominated articles as “distinguished winners” and were awarded a $3,200 grant to support future work. The award honors research that “produces both credible and useful knowledge that can be applied to benefit society” and promotes “better marketing for a better world.”
Their study, “Dangerous Double Dosing: How Naive Beliefs Can Contribute to Unintentional Overdose with Over-the-Counter Drugs,” focused on the effects of marketing labels on over-the-counter drugs. They found that marketing labels were not clear enough—and could lead to a dangerous overdose of drugs like acetaminophen.
“Jesse used to be my PHD student,” Pechmann explained. “He was concerned by the number of emergency room visits from overdoses of over-the-counter drugs. We came up with a new warning that would explicitly call-out the overdose risk instead of a more subtle approach that merely highlighted the acetaminophen content.”
Their research was published in the Journal of Public Research & Marketing in 2015. Pechmann and her team will be invited to present their findings at a marketing conference in San Francisco in August.
“Much of Connie’s career has been devoted to benefiting not just business but also society as a whole,” said Eric Spangenberg, dean of The Paul Merage School of Business. “Her innovative marketing research, dedicated to the public’s well-being, is worthy of the highest recognition and reflects the values of our School."