The Themes of Memes: Dissertation – 66%

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dissertationAbstract

Social networks have contributed to the birth of a digital culture, an age where information sharing is as simple as pressing a button. This has presented significant implications for the word-of-mouth (WOM) advertising technique. Currently, consumers are not just end users of online advertising, they can play a key role in the distribution of messages. Branded communication on the Internet has the potential to offer unparalleled reach in terms of scale and cost efficiency. Previous academic research has examined the content of various forms of spreadable media, including online ads and Internet memes. This study adopted a novel approach, applying the theory of semiotics for analysis of the content of Internet memes. The research explored 16-24 year old’s assessment of six viral meme’s in relation to seven semiotic themes with the goal of determining the most strongly associated attributes. The themes of Humour, ‘Relatability’ and Simplicity exhibited the most widespread association. Whereas, Nostalgia, Sarcasm, Representing Pop Culture and Use of Colloquialism/Slang displayed fragmented and weak correlation. Surmised from these findings, Humour, ‘Relatability’ and Simplicity may represent essential components of a viral meme. This study provides potentially useful insights concerning the cultural phenomenon of the Internet meme and supplies practical knowledge towards better understanding how to increase WOM engagement of branded content promoted on social media.

The journey undertaken in creating this research project has provided many opportunities of learning and growth. It started towards the end of my second year at university. I was given the option to choose between a research project and a substitute unit. The decision was a simple one, I had looked forward to the freedom of exploring a subject, of my choosing, in greater depth than in any past assignment. I had initially desired to attend a placement year but for unavoidable circumstances I did not obtain this experience. I purposely chose to design my research project in relation to the area of advertising I endeavour to pursue employment (at the time). Namely, to be a ‘creative’ in a marketing agency. My tutor, Ian Mitchell shared the caveat that nowadays, agencies are looking for creatives who ‘get’ digital. This guided my choice to look at the social phenomenon of online memes. The semiotic perspective seemed to materialise naturally, originating from my early attraction towards the theory from first year.

I recognised the implications of examining a topic area in greater depth than in any past assignment. From this, I consulted the advice of tutors Cathy Bakewell, Javier Lloveras and Griff Round, towards the close of my second year. Each of them provided me with guidance and confidence towards the choice of this subject area and perspective. They impressed upon me the challenges I would face, with regard to exploring a relatively new field of research and by applying a fairly complex system of analysis, in semiotic theory. However, they each gave me reassurance that as long as I conducted a thoroughly comprehensive review of the available literature and managed my time well, the project was achievable.

The literature review was perhaps the most challenging aspect of the project. The sheer mass of information was tricky to get my head around. Presenting the literature in a fashion that did not resemble a shopping basket was something I had to overcome. I employed valuable advice given by my supervisor Bex Lewis, along with various YouTube videos to circumvent this obstacle. I was very pleased with how my lit’ review turned out.

I used a pragmatic mixed-method approach to gather data. Firstly, I conducted a focus group, which provided me with seven tangible semiotic themes. Then, I explored these themes further by way of an online survey, which was distributed to a larger audience. For data analysis, I utilised a variety of functions from Microsoft Excel. A series of graphical representations allowed me to spot trends and associations within my data. This provided me with my findings and conclusions.

This piece of work is very different to all others. Its more personal. From the array of advice I sought early on, one may appreciate how much this project meant to me. I was determined to do as well as possible. A great deal of thought, reading and exploration went into planning this project. I must have printed out and read close to a hundred papers. This work reflects my personality. I strongly appreciate all my tutors’ help in motivating me to take on something challenging, do something different and creative. And, although I did not achieve a first for this work, the feeling of creating a 16K word, 76-page report, in a fashion that has never been done before, is all the more satisfying and rewarding.

This dissertation represents me and I am very proud of it.


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

LinkedIn: Yehudah Cummings

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Consumer Behaviour & Culture – The National Lottery Award

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cbc

This post marks the first piece of work from the second year of my Advertising and Brand Management honours degree. The focus moved away from generalised marketing theory to more specific advertising and branding perspectives during my second year. Additionally, rather than simply regurgitating theory, the tasks demanded more practical application of concepts.

This shift is ideally represented in the assignment I am showcasing today. In what was referred to as a ‘live’ brief, I was tasked to aid The National Lottery in its attempt to engage young adults (16-24 year olds) in order to encourage participation of the bi-weekly lotto.

Myself and a partner conducted primary research, consisting of both an online questionnaire and a focus group, drawing upon theories of brand personality and values to try and establish what The National Lottery could do differently to increase involvement of young adults. We revealed our results in a 15 minute presentation.

An added incentive for this assignment revolved around a partnership MMU has with The National Lottery, where representatives of the company were to generously come to the University to listen to the top 3 presentations.

My partner and I were gratefully awarded to be one of the 3. The experience to present our humble findings to industry professionals was exhilarating. Insights drawn from the executives were very beneficial. Overall, the opportunity offered me invaluable experience, which I am extremely proud and thankful to have gained so early into my career.

Below is a letter I received from Nick Bonney, Head of Insight at The National Lottery, confirming the award.

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Email: hudacummings@gmail.com

LinkedIn: Yehudah Cummings

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