Strategic Communications and Advertising Planning – Assignment 2 – 88%

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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.

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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

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Strategic Marketing Management: Report – 74%

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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

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

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

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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

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Advertising Management: Poster – 74%

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poster-official-16- completedFollowing on from the first assignment in this unit, the 30-second video advert for Met Munch, in relation to the Sport brief. The second task involved two parts. The first, was to evaluate the advert. This warranted for a piece of primary research to be conducted. Students from MMU were interviewed regarding the effectiveness of the advertisement in terms of target audience, creativity, audience reach, resonance to society/target audience, message and brand. I showcased my findings in a presentation. For task two, I created a poster that addressed the issues identified from the key research outcomes.

Key findings were:

  • Make ‘fun’ and ‘sustainable’ qualities more prevalent in the poster.
  • Include female characters in the poster.
  • More emphasise on humour from – fonts, colours & characters.
  • More emphasise on tone of voice to inspire students.
  • More food featured on the poster.

I created the poster using Adobe Photoshop. As I created the poster from scratch, I was to demonstrate my semiotic thinking behind the design of the poster. Semiotics was one of my favourite topics from first year, which meant I found engaging in this practice very enjoyable. Here is a brief overview, regarding making the quality of ‘fun’ stand out more, I brainstormed, when do we have the most fun eating food? Obviously, when we were all infants. The menus on the table diverge from the infant characters. The mortar boards relate to the target audience of students and contrast to the young boy’s hat on the far right. The tone of voice regarding ‘level up’ was to further engage with the target audience. The colour scheme reflected the ‘sustainable’ quality of Met Munch. The hashtag was to inspire all genders.

This assignment wrapped up one of my favourite units of second year. Conducting primary research for the video advert and then formulating a poster based on the findings was a highly practical and valuable task. It gave me an experience of what it may be like in the advertising industry. Engaging with one of my favourite concepts, semiotics, in creation of an original poster was extremely rewarding. I am very proud of this work and was grateful to receive a first in this assignment.


Email: hudacummings@gmail.com

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Advertising Management: Creating and Starring in a 30-Second Advert

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videoFor the first assignment of my 2nd year Advertising Management unit, as part of a team, I was tasked to create and star in a 30-second video advert. This was to raise awareness of MetMUnch, a student-led group that promotes eating SMART: Sustainable, Multi-cultural, Affordable, Realistic and Tasty. The ad was to be constructed in accord of one of five creative briefs. My group chose the Sport brief, it went as follows:

Brief Two – MMU Sport

  • Using natural connections between Sport and MetMUnch (nutrition, healthy eating) to devise cross-polination marketing opportunities between the two
  • Audience: All students (not necessarily those already interested or involved in sport), encouraging active, healthy lifestyle choices
  • Looking for content for social that can be shared and retweeted by @MMUSport and @MetMUnch, e.g. Twitter / Instagram friendly pics; punchy text images in style of below. Stuff that will make people stop scrolling through their feed and take notice!

The ad was uploaded to YouTube, it can be viewed here. For each of the five creative briefs, one winner was chosen. My group was privileged to be chosen winners for the Sport brief category.

This highly practical assignment was very enjoyable to take part in. Brainstorming ideas, making these ideas come to life and starring in the video, all in a team environment with a bunch of friends was a true highlight of the year. Winning the award put the icing on the cake.


Email: hudacummings@gmail.com

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