Strategic Communications and Advertising Planning – Assignment 2 – 88%

Standard

Untitled-1The second assignment of this unit was one of the most unique and intriguing tasks from third year. The assignment had two parts, first of which involved,

  a critical review of past campaigns that had received complaints on the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) website relating to harmful   and offensive advertising, while assessing whether the voluntary codes that operate within the UK are working.

I was given the freedom to chose either a particular company, industry or time period for investigation. Initially, selecting campaigns proved difficult, as the vast majority of complaints derived from misleading ads, not harmful and offensive ones. After significant examination of the ASA website, bearing in mind part two of this task, which warranted for a variety of communication tools to be featured in a campaign. I decided to focus on the first ever e-cigarette ads.

E-cigarettes were first promoted in 2013 by brands VIP and E-Lites (Buchanan, 2014; Sweney, 2013). The methods used to achieve brand awareness received a multitude of complaints regarding harmful and offensive advertising, raising attention from the ASA. As a result, the first two e-cigarette ads were banned in some form. I analysed the creative appeals of the ads and suggested parallels between traditional tactics used to promote cigarettes.

The ASA’s judgement of the two ads appeared to be a catalyst in bringing to light the social damage unregulated e-cigarette advertising could cause. Whether the brands intentionally took advantage of an unregulated environment in order to most effectively achieve their goal of brand awareness, remains debatable. Regardless, following extensive public consultation, the ASA proactively introduced new sections to the CAP and BCAP codes, directly regulating e-cigarettes, in November 2014 (Asa.org.uk, 2014b).

The ASA’s initial negligence placed consumers in a vulnerable positon, giving power to the ad industry and enabling marketers to create content which potentially caused detriment to society. However, through recent complaint analysis, the ASA’s relatively fast reaction to implement new rules, had been judged to have effectively protected consumers and society. Perhaps exemplifying this shift, E-Lites had recently rebranded to be called Logic (Logicvapes.com, 2017). In analysing a key time period for the ad industry, my report demonstrated the need for fast and dynamic action from the ASA, yet, positively supported the organisation in being an effective method for regulating the UK ad industry.

network-782707_960_720

The second part of this task asked me to,

 critically review how you would monitor and evaluate whether this was a successful      campaign or not.

I chose to focus on E-Lites’ campaign, which consisted of: a radio ad, TV ad, Internet banner ad, poster at a bus-stop and display ad on the side of a bus. This broad spectrum enabled me to explore a wide variety of monitoring and evaluation methods.

A key theme of this essay derived from the opportunities digital technology can provide. However, I began by highlighting some more traditional techniques such as, pre-testing and publicity tracking. These can be effective tools, yet do have limitations that digital technology can overcome quite well. Historically, ‘marketing’ has been unable to confidently claim with a credible degree of accuracy that a particular campaign resulted in ‘x’ number of sales. This is due to a plethora of external factors influencing consumer behaviour. The Internet, however, has provided unparalleled tracking potential. E-Lites’ banner ad offers the ability to accurately determine how effective the ad was in making a sale, the click-through and bought rate (Chaffey and Smith, 2013). This is but one example, numerous others featured in the essay.

Despite acknowledgement of the monitoring and evaluation potential of the Internet, I had to relate the various challenges of this new technology. Computer software partly helps the process of converting data into useful information, but turning the information into tangible business decisions is a complex practice needing highly skilled strategic analysts. Stemming from this, misinterpretation of data is common. A company may choose to monitor so called vanity metrics (Chaffey and Smith, 2013), for example, page views and number of followers, in relation to its objective of increasing brand awareness. However, this key performance indicator (KPI) presents flawed relevance to the number of people actually trying a product. This misinterpretation can distort the overall evaluation of a campaign and lead to misinformed future objectives.

Challenges will need to be overcome involving: speed, cost, dynamism and transparency. Ironically, these challenges with the technology are identical to the opportunities it will offer.

I greatly enjoyed writing these two essays and was extremely grateful to be awarded 88%. This unit was a favourite from third year, largely due to committed, passionate and engaging tutelage from award-winning blogger Jeff McCarthy. I was overjoyed to achieve an average of 86%, a grade I didn’t expected to attain in a unit from third year.


Email: hudacummings@gmail.com

LinkedIn: Yehudah Cummings

Twitter: Yehudah Cummings

Facebook: Yehudah Cummings

Click to view my CV.

Advertisements

CORPORATE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT: EXAM – 76%

Standard

image-20160921-21701-1s45a8j

By achieving 76%, this exam resulted in an unexpected personal milestone of progression. Throughout the majority of tasks in third year, I was instructed to analyse a firm’s current situation and with this information, suggest a strategy for the future of the company. One can find the challenges initially faced in my other blog posts. However, I believe my success in this exam exhibits the progression I have made in efficiently applying this practice.

The exam was slightly unique, in that it was open-book and that I was asked to prepare a two-page analysis of the case-study organisation, Sports Direct, to be included in the exam. The open-book nature and the prior knowledge of the case study meant I was able to gather useful information, allowing me to construct highly detailed and specific answers.

The exam had three questions. The first was previously informed to be either CSR or Ethics. The other two were a raffle between ten topics. Commonly with exams, advice from tutors involved; out of the ten topic areas, choose four or five to cover in depth, increasing the likelihood of two of them coming up.

Sports Direct was specifically chosen because of the damage its reputation had received from various stakeholders. Through rigorous research of Sports Direct, looking at the historical timeline of negative media coverage and the manner in which Sports Direct handled the situation. I was able to see the links between the company’s failure and the theory covered in the unit.

The extent to which I achieved this was extremely surprising. When one has prepared specific questions for an exam, the anticipation of whether they are going to come up is immense. This is intensified even more where, instead of covering four-to-five topics, I had gambled with only preparing three. Time was a major influencing factor of this but I was also quietly confident that these were by far the most important issues. Despite my confidence, I was absolutely stunned when I opened the paper and saw, the three questions I had prepared for the second part all featured in the exam in the exact way I had written them. I was able to answer three out of the four question (although only two were needed) and essentially write down my answers word-for-word.

At the time I brazenly thought, I couldn’t have gotten luckier if I had written the exam myself. However, on further reflection, I found a great deal of pride in managing to analyse a company’s situation and prioritise the most important actions, to the extent that I had reached the same conclusions as my tutors through their choice of questioning. I believe this grade showcases the ultimate progression I have made through repeatedly engaging with this analytical practice and gives me great confidence for my future work and career.


Email: hudacummings@gmail.com

LinkedIn: Yehudah Cummings

Twitter: Yehudah Cummings

Facebook: Yehudah Cummings

Click to view my CV.

Strategic Marketing Management: Report – 74%

Standard

sostac_plan_long_2This unit introduced me to the top-level of marketing and was one of the most enjoyable and challenging parts of third year. It had a significant impression on my affinity towards advertising and widened my future employment perspectives.

In the past I had been fairly sceptical of academic models in relation to their relevance in practice. Whereas, through applying PR Smith’s SOSTAC® framework and various other analysis tools in this unit, I found my opinions of theory to favourably change.

In a group of three, my task was to fully apply SOSTAC® to Nestle, specifically its baby food division. We first conducted a situation analysis and then using this information, justly proposed objectives, creative targeted actions and controlling measures.

The initial situation analysis process required logical, problem-solving thinking. We needed to weigh up: which market, product and consumer would provide the most value in targeting. While taking into account extenuating circumstances involving boycott actions against Nestle.

Through extremely comprehensive analysis, my group was able to use data to justify almost all of our decisions. The only bias decision was the choice of the UK market, which admittedly, was chosen due to the favourable amount of data available regarding this market.

The thorough analysis set us up very well for the more creative stage of SOSTAC®, the actions. We were able to brainstorm innovative marketing tactics that took full advantage of the market and consumer trends in the UK, while conforming to the regulations associated with baby food advertising and the impact of the boycott.

The main challenge my group encountered when formulating this report, was the sheer vastness of data we had gathered. Being introduced to a wide array of models, coupled with my tutor granting great freedom through the choice of any market or product we could justify, meant the process of narrowing our work down to fit the 10-page limit was extremely challenging. This is highlighted by the report’s word count, just under 12,000 words. Admittedly, this was an excessive amount to squeeze onto 10 pages and possibly hindered our mark.

However, the challenges of this task provided me with a valuable learning experience. Good research is largely useless if the uncovered bits of gold are not communicated to managers effectively. Communication is at the heart of advertising. If the marketers themselves are unable to communicate internally, what hope do they have of engaging externally.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed conducting such a comprehensive assignment. Using logical thinking in determining which pathway to create ideas around was extremely satisfying. In second year, I had been fairly one-track-minded in believing my goal was to be a ‘creative’ in an agency, however, this unit opened my eyes to the affinity I have towards analytical research and widened my scope in considering these roles as well.

My group and I received 74% for this assignment.


Email: hudacummings@gmail.com

LinkedIn: Yehudah Cummings

Twitter: Yehudah Cummings

Facebook: Yehudah Cummings

Click to view my CV.


SOSTAC® is a registered trade mark of PR Smith. For more information on SOSTAC® Planning & becoming a SOSTAC® Certified Planner visit www.SOSTAC.org .

Corporate Reputation Management: Report – 85%

Standard

1472226299301

This assignment asked myself and a partner to create a report with the plans for a corporate communication campaign designed to enhance corporate reputation. Like previous assignments, we were given the freedom to choose our own firm to examine and were tasked with conducting a situation analysis. However, the analysis was much shorter, just four pages long, meaning it had to be prioritised much more rigidly than the ten-page VW analysis. We chose to study Kellogg’s, which presented unique challenges that had to be overcome.

My partner and I used the analysis to decide on one issue to focus our communication campaign on. We proposed six SMART objectives: three business-orientated and three communications and created a campaign message. Using Mitchel et al. (1997) framework, we conducted in-depth stakeholder analysis, which enabled our target publics to be accurately and justly determined. We focused on consumers, media and shareholders.

For consumers we proposed three initiatives:

  • An interactive sporting event at England’s first game of the 6 Nations, themed around the 1990s hit UK TV show Gladiators.
  • A social media competition in partnership with FitBit: #BeatTheBadges.
  • Local community development in collaboration with the This Girl Can sports-orientated initiative.

Our activities strategically targeted the consumer behaviour trends identified from the situation analysis, while staying inline with Kellogg’s corporate image, enabling the enhancement of its reputation.

We used a variety of media tools to communicate with our target publics:

  • A national media press conference
  • A host of press releases, including: national, local, specialist and social media.
  • A press day at the Manchester Factory
  • Bloggers and other online influencers.

The media channel complimented the activity it attached to, such as social media press releases for the Fitbit competition, in order to create a streamlined integrated campaign.

This assignment presented unique challenges and in overcoming, I believe to have learnt more about the process of analysing a company’s situation and weighing up the most important aspects to take action upon. When we discovered Kellogg’s impressive reputation, my partner and I rationalised, the ideal action did not lie with outlandish PR stunts but rather with engaging activities that compliment the brand and help bolster its reputation.

We approached with a considerable amount of respect towards Kellogg’s, being mindful of conserving its reputation over other more extreme tactics. This assignment impressed upon me, that just because the task gives unbridled freedom to choose any communication tactics, there are some instances where erring on the side of caution is the most favourable strategy for sustaining reputation and long-term success.

My partner and I received 85% for this task, a grade I’m very proud of, given the obstacles we overcame.


Email: hudacummings@gmail.com

LinkedIn: Yehudah Cummings

Twitter: Yehudah Cummings

Facebook: Yehudah Cummings

Click to view my CV.

Strategic Communications & Advertising Planning: Part 2 – Poster Pitch – 78%

Standard

IMG_20170607_144021894

Following on from the situation analysis undertaken in Part 1, my team and I were then tasked to brainstorm a campaign in order to attain one of the suggested marketing communication objectives. We showcased our ideas in a 10-minute pitch, facilitated by an A0 poster, designed collaboratively using Adobe Photoshop.

We focussed on the Golf GTE, hybrid/electric car and utilised the car-purchasing-journey, adapted from Mintel, as a framework for our pull/profile strategy. SEO and a TV ad were strategically applied for the ‘initial search’ stage. We dreamt up a promotional event, VW Volt, intended to engage with the public and inform of VW’s commitment to sustainability. To aid potential customers’ ‘choice evaluation’ a partnership with Zipcar was tactically proposed, allowing the public to test-drive VW cars, encourage purchasing and ultimately, achieve return-on-investment. We divulged a budget and schedule for the campaign by way of a Gantt chart.

It was empowering to have the freedom to innovate my own extensive campaign on this assignment. Working as group of five, bouncing ideas off each other, while using the car-purchasing-journey as a guideline, made producing this comprehensive campaign seamless, fun, and creatively satisfying. The tricky part was keeping our presentation down to just 10 minutes long. However, practice helped achieved this and my previous experience with pitching helped the delivery to be confident and precise.

My team and I received 78% for the second part of this assignment, giving myself an overall average unit grade of 84%.


Email: hudacummings@gmail.com

LinkedIn: Yehudah Cummings

Twitter: Yehudah Cummings

Facebook: Yehudah Cummings

Click to view my CV.

Digital Media and Marketing Platforms: “The Digital Agency Project”

Standard

captureThe first assignment in this unit involved an interactive venture which gave me my first taste of what it would be like working at a marketing agency.

This assignment was a group task which made the project all the more engaging. Each team member was to choose their own specifically-defined role in the agency. If you’ve explored the rest of my blog you wont be surprised that I wasted no time in choosing the role of creative director for myself. The group decided upon the name Zenith Advertising for our agency.

The team was to produce two appraisals relating to the wide variety of services available on an array of digital platforms.

My partner and I focused upon mobile marketing strategies, highlighting opportunities (and some pitfalls) with technologies such as near field communication, proximity marketing using wireless, app development and QR codes. (Click on the image above to be taken to the blog post.)

Along with the more formal appraisals, the team utilised the blog in a typical fashion by showcasing external creations, commenting on current events and posting other pieces of research.

Overall, working in a flexible collaborative manner enabled a much more enjoyable creative approach to something which at first glance sounded quite dry – writing an appraisal. The freedom to brainstorm, design and create a blog website while researching the unit’s topics offered a dynamic and multi-faceted learning experience.

You can view the group’s work at https://zenithadz.wordpress.com/


Email: hudacummings@gmail.com

LinkedIn: Yehudah Cummings

Twitter: Yehudah Cummings

Facebook: Yehudah Cummings

Click to view my CV.