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

LinkedIn: Yehudah Cummings

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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

LinkedIn: Yehudah Cummings

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Marketing Communications Theory and Practice

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picture1For this unit, an open-book exam comprised 50% of the overall unit grade. An approach I welcomed, as the eradication of guesswork allowed for a much more focused learning experience.

The first question involved a semiotic analysis of a poster by Whiskas cat food (image above.)

I was to consider all elements in order to extract and interpret what messages the advertisers were trying to convey to their audience.

Charles Sanders Peirce’s theory of semiotics provided the framework by which I could highlight the key symbolism, while justifying these points in relation to Whiskas’ brand, product and market development.

The open-book nature enabled myself to essentially write up the piece prior to the exam. Click on the image above or follow this link to view a sample from my answer. I received a first in this exam.

From a creative perspective, I greatly enjoyed the subject of semiotics. As Alastair Crompton impressed upon me in his book ‘The Craft of Copywriting’, the question why? is of paramount importance in marketing.

I believe the level of analysis applied in this task, along with arduous attention to detail have granted me invaluable skills toward my professional development.


Email: hudacummings@gmail.com

LinkedIn: Yehudah Cummings

Twitter: Yehudah Cummings

Facebook: Yehudah Cummings

Click to view my CV.