Monday, 31 October 2011

The “Earcon”

I have recently been reading ‘The Brand Gap’ by Marty Neumeier. It’s an interesting book and what makes it even better is that it’s an easy read. Neumeier gets to the point quickly and backs his statements up with advert examples and diagrams.

There’s a section in the book where he discusses the ‘Earcon’ I’d never heard this term used before. An ‘earcon’ is the auditory counterpart of a company’s icon; this is when a company is recognised by its sound or song. When you see a company’s icon you will instantly know who they are, the ‘earcon’ works in the same way but when you hear a song you immediately think of the company it is connected with.

As soon as I hear the song“Here come the girls!” all I think of is ‘Boots’ for me that song has no other meaning it just belongs to ‘Boots’.

 Here are some other songs that I found make people think of a brand straight away:

Justin Timberlake, ‘I’m Loving It’ = McDonalds

Elena Kats-Chernin, ‘Eliza’s Aria’ = Lloyds TSB

The New Seekers, ‘I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing, In Perfect Harmony’ makes my parents think of Coca-Cola. But is it the fizzing sound you get when you open a can/bottle of Coke that’s Coke’s real ‘earcon’? I always find when I hear someone opening a can of Coke I want to buy one…

A brands trademark nowadays has to be multi dimensional. It’s no longer just about the logo but about their sound, service, the experience they create, the interior of their store… The company tries to interact with all the senses of the customer to form an emotional unforgettable bond that will result in brand loyalty. 

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Ad Regulation. A fine line between right and wrong?

With so many different opinions today about what’s right and wrong it’s no surprise that some people are offended by adverts they see on television.

Advertising regulations have changed dramatically over the years. Today the regulations for broadcasting adverts are a mixture of self regulation and statutory laws created by parliament. Self regulation comprises of three different areas.
1. The Committee of Advertising Practice draws up the British codes of advertising, sales promotions and direct marketing. 
2. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) applies these codes and ensures adverts don’t breach them.
3. The ASA have staff that promote the self regulatory system and investigate complaints made.

Even although there is a regulation system in place there are still times when rules will be broken and adverts will have to be banned and pulled from broadcast. Some adverts may not have been created to offend but the advertisers got it wrong, others may be deliberately designed to shock, as they say “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” A banned advert will usually generate more publicity than other ads and they will always be found on the internet attached to a news article about it long after the event. Therefore some companies see it as a good thing that their advert is noticed and talked about even if it’s for the wrong reasons.

 This NHS advert was designed to be shocking however a lot of people thought the ad was disturbing and offensive. The advertisers perhaps misjudged public reaction and this ad was banned.

Ryan Air is a repeat offender getting adverts banned time and time again. Maybe this shows that they like to be a little controversial and feel that being remembered this way doesn’t hinder but helps their business.

In my opinion there seems to be a very thin line about what adverts are and are not acceptable even with rules in place. In our last lecture we were shown a series of adverts that were controversial and were asked to guess whether or not they’d been banned.

Here is an example we discussed and my opinion.

The Wonder bra 'Hello Boy’s' ad. Vs. Diesel 'Be Stupid' ad.

Both adverts were complained about but only the Diesel ad was banned. In the case of the Hello Boys ad people were offended by the nudity and the provocative slogan. It was justified as being humorous and not intended to cause harm therefore wasn’t banned. The Diesel ad which also shows a half naked woman was banned as it was said to be a bad influence condoning illegal behaviour. However I think both ads were intended to be funny and not taken seriously, it can be read in their tag lines. It’s a tricky situation to determine what’s right and wrong especially with advertising companies pushing the rules to their limit. Does this make the rules consistent? Is it fair that an advert isn’t always banned even if it offends people? Maybe stricter rules should be in place to rid the industry of this grey area to ensure the public won’t have to see images they don’t want to. But I’m sure that would take away the fun of it all. Sometimes we want the boundaries pushed a little if not would all ads not be the same, a little boring and perhaps not very memorable. The worst, most offensive ads are the most memorable after all.

Here are a couple of adverts I currently find offensive. (Dislike!)

Go Compare! That man. That song….irritating!! Why does it stay in my head all day!!

The Heinz soup ad. I just hate people blowing on their food it's disgusting. I find this worse than the most complained about ad. (KFC women singing with their mouth full)

Obviously this is just my opinion and they aren’t controversial like the other ads showing nudity and illegal behaviour. But I just don’t like them and would be quite happy if they were banned!

Below is the most complained about advert. People said that it should be banned as it encouraged bad manners to children. It wasn't banned. They argued that manners are generated over time this advert wouldn't affect how a child behaves. What’s your opinion of it? 

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Ludic Qualities and AIDA.

AIDA is an acronym for a list of events companies aim to fulfil when marketing a product.

A-    Attention
I-       Interest
D- Desire
A- Action

Firstly they grab the customer’s attention through their advert.

By pushing the irrational benefits of the product and demonstrating these they gain customer interest.

They must then create a desire for the product make the customer think the product will fulfil their needs and improve their life.

Action is where a customer is led in someway to purchase the product. In the book ‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell this was know as ‘the golden box theory’ when people participated with the advert sales would go up.

The company ‘Graze’ which sells healthy snack products is example of AIDA being used. 
By advertising in magazines such as ‘Grazia’ and ‘Mens Health’ they targeted the market segment they wanted and grabbed their attention. I would describe the market segment to be both male and female between the ages of 25 and 40, with disposable income, health conscious and living a busy lifestyle.

An alternative to biscuits, having a healthy lifestyle, snacking but not in a harmful way, naturally active ingredients, more consistent energy, getting your five a day, are all benefits that are pushed to create customer interest.

The desire is then generated through these benefits. By buying this product I can snack throughout the day but not feel guilty and become a healthier more alert person. The product is also delivered direct to my door so will fit in with my hectic lifestyle.

‘Graze’ then encourage these people to buy the product by giving them a promotional code to get their first box free the second half price. Most people love a freebie so would sign up for this. Whilst doing so they need to enter payment details this is because after they have received their free box ‘Graze’ will continue to send the box but charge the customer for it if they have not cancelled their account. This has a number of advantages for the company. Once a customer has tried the free box they may find out how much they like it and continue to buy from them. If a customer forgets or can’t be bothered to cancel their account the company will still gain by selling more boxes.

Another technique used by advertisers to grab a customer’s attention is to create adverts with a ludic quality. This can be an ad that’s slightly puzzling, that has a hidden message or a pun, or an ad that’s funny or ridiculous. These ads will make people feel good about themselves; if you work out the puzzle you’ll feel proud. If they feel good about themselves they’ll feel good about the product.
If an ad is funny or completely ridiculous the idea is to get people talking about it. Having the ad and the product talked about and constantly on people’s minds will result in people eventually buying the product. Sneaky, sneaky!

A couple of ads I thought of that had this ludic quality are; the ‘Gu’ ad and the ‘Evian’ babies ad. Maybe it was just me that found the ‘Gu’ ad particularly puzzling... have a look! 

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

24 Hour Brief. My Thoughts.

This was our first “real” brief where we worked in bigger groups and created an advert together, through stages of research, brainstorming, producing an idea wall, a final outcome and pitching it.

As a whole I really enjoyed the day. Using the experience from previous weeks I went into the city centre armed with questionnaires coming back with information that was relevant and helpful to the subject. From past lectures I’ve learned that people respond well to an advert that creates an emotional connection I think this is why I agreed on the advert we eventually chose. Generating ideas and sketching was the part I liked the most although next time I would like to do this before and after researching the topic. I felt that after we had researched my ideas became a little restricted to what we found. Perhaps sketching before would help ideas flow freely even if they were irrelevant they could be taken down at a later stage.

Perhaps the groups were a little too big. Starting on the brief a large group is helpful as a lot of areas can be researched at the same time however nearing the end of the day once the idea had been selected there didn’t seem to be enough for everyone to do.  I do think that a large group is better for generating ideas. Sometimes in a small group ideas can be stuck but with more people they keep going for longer and help with inspiration on my own thoughts.

I would definitely try to think differently next time. After hearing the other groups I felt like we could have come up with a better campaign instead of just an advert. I did really like our idea however adding to our poster; flyers, pop up shops, free key rings… flash mobs! These are just examples but could turn a poster ad into something a lot bigger and more memorable.

24 Hour Brief.

As a group we were asked to create an advertising campaign to encourage young adult males to visit their GPs through targeting women.

The majority of men tend to ignore symptoms that could potentially lead to a serious illness. “Taking risks and thinking nothing will happen is seen as being part of the parcel of being a man.” The advert should address this problem and make men go to their doctor before it’s too late.

Before we started sketching and discussing ideas we decided it would be valuable to spend the first hour doing research. Our team leader split us into groups, each group focusing on a different task.

 Background Research was carried out by looking into articles about men’s health, gathering statistics on the subject and finding current or past adverts that related to the issue.

 Brainstorming was used to generate ideas about ‘the risks men take in their daily lives’ and ‘how women look at the subject of men’s health’.

Two groups went out on the street; one with a questionnaire to ask couples about their relationship. Another to find out what stage of an illness a man would go to the doctor.

After the research was gathered we re-grouped to discuss our findings. Ideas were then sketched and pinned up. Once the sketching died down we voted for the most popular ideas.  These ideas were worked on for a little longer until we decided it was time to make a decision and choose the final ad.

The advert chosen targets women whilst drawing attention to the fact that men could have an underlying problem yet ignore the symptoms and don’t go to their GP. By highlighting this we are hoping women can make a difference and not brush this issue aside. From our research we found that men tend to wait until the problem is unavoidable. Shockingly one man stated he would not visit his GP even if he found a lump on his testicle! With the encouragement of women perhaps men will not feel that going to the GP is a sign of weakness. Asking couples, siblings and friends about their relationships we discovered how influential women are to men.

The advert created by the team shows a man suffering in some way while the woman brushes  his pain aside saying for example “You just have man flu!” while the tag line reads “Or is it?”. This is to target women emotionally; hopefully they will feel connected, stop and think. It may be something they say to their friend or husband so they will realise they should perhaps look at the situation in a serious way instead. Underneath the tagline there is a short explanation and the NHS24 website for further information. Bus stops, supermarkets, doctor’s waiting rooms or a newspaper would be ideal locations for where this ad should be placed.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Playful Architecture.

Whilst researching my current studio project I came across a few playful designs that just made me smile. So I thought I’d share!

Reversible Density Lofts by Arakawa & Gins. Tokyo, Japan.

These lofts were designed as part of ‘Architecture against Death.’ The interior is designed in a way to keep people active it “makes people use their bodies in unexpected ways to maintain equilibrium, and that will stimulate their immune systems”.  Every loft comes with a set of directions for use. Inside there are uneven floors, oddly positioned power switches, transparent shower rooms, a sunken kitchen and many more oddly positioned items to keep occupants on their toes. The occupants will be more alert and the designers believe this will extend their life by making them feel younger.

 Shanghai Park Pavilions. Taranta Creations.

These pavilions are colourful sculptures in the park and have been describe as looking like pieces of candy. However as well as looking beautiful they also serve a purpose. They’ve been built to support and house typical Chinese activities such as tai chi, karaoke, drinking tea and playing mah-jong. Powered by wind turbines the colourful structures are built on poles to remind people about the threat of flooding and for fear that the Hangpu River that they line will flood.

I love the fun of these designs. Whilst trying to address serious issues the designers have managed to make their buildings interesting, unique and playful.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Last week was all about ‘Smash’. At Wednesdays lecture we were given a booklet of information about the product, this included detail of where it could be bought, its competitors and a SWOT analysis. As a group we were then to create personas using information we would collect the following day. These personas would help us direct our thoughts of possible advertisements, who to aim them at and how to get them interested in the product.

What is a Persona?

A persona is created using peoples personal information. This information is grouped into similar categories to create fictional characters to represent different user groups. Personas can help guide decision making for the product or service. For example what should the website look like?  A persona could be used to show what type of web design would appeal to a particular group.

Example of 'Yahoo' personas. (Details obscured to protect proprietary info.)

Thursday morning we decided to split the group into two teams, team one would head into the town centre and the other to the university campus. Both teams would find out people’s name, age and occupation then ask a couple of questions. The first team would stop people in the city centre and ask them to draw their favourite meal and what makes them happy. The second team asked ‘what’s your favourite meal?’ and ‘if it was a person what would it be like?’


Together we asked a range of people with different ages and backgrounds. Using the information we came up with 3 personas.


Name: Ben Clark

Age: 20

Occupation: Student (Studying Business)

Likes: Sports and socialising with friends. Being on the go.

General Info.: It’s his first time living away from home. At the weekends he sometimes goes home for a visit and to get a home cooked meal. He’s starting to cook for himself and learning each time. Usually doesn’t have much money. He juggles his work, uni and his social life. He’s learning to become more independent.


Name: Betty Blair.

Age: 70

Occupation: Retired.

Likes: Day time TV. Spending her time with her grandchildren. Bingo.

General Info.: Betty gets tired easily so doesn’t leave the house much. She sees her family once a week and goes to church coffee mornings regularly. She had a pet cat and cares for her elderly husband.


Name: Helen Fields

Age: 32

Occupation: Part time worker at a supermarket.

Likes: Catching up and having a chat with the neighbours. Relaxing when she gets a minute to herself.

General Info.: Helen has 3 young children; a son Jack who’s 8 years old and twins that are 2years old. She works part time at the local supermarket and in between working and looking after the kids she’s studying from home to become a nurse. Her husband works away a lot but is home at the weekends. She’s not got much of a social like and is too busy too spend time on herself.

Using these personas I had a few ideas of possible adverts for the product ‘Smash’.

  1. An advert where a student has his/her parents visiting and makes them dinner. Mother says, ‘this is delicious when did you learn to cook?’ The advert then shows how the boy/girl quickly made a proper meal giving the viewer tips on the types of meals that can be made easily and cheaply with smash for example; fishcakes or Sheppard’s pie. The supermarkets can give away recipe cards when someone buys ‘Smash’.

  1. An elderly couple sitting down to a meal in their cosy kitchen having bangers and smash. The tag line may be “Classic meals. Even better than you remembered with Smash”

  1. This advert would perhaps show a dishevelled looking mother rushing in from work tidying up after the kids then serving up a healthy looking meal in time for her husband returning from work. Children and parents sit happily around the table digging into food and chatting. Tag line could read “If only other things in life were as easy as Smash”.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Values and Lifestyles.

The Values and Lifestyles (VALS) tool group’s people who share similar aspirations and interests, it looks at people’s status and income.

VALS2 is slightly different categorising people depending on their moral stance and they way they relate to the world around them. Below is the VALS 2 table.

My team got together to try to change the message for several products and services according to the Social Value groups we’d chosen. Here’s what we came up with…

Mortgage Service

  • An advert showing them how their life could be when they’re older. A retired couple enjoying their well kept home could be a possible ad.
  • Someone in a cosy, safe house having friends over.

Esteem Seekers:
  • An image of the perfect family should be created for this group. A big house nice car, family standing outside house. The neighbours would be peering over the fencing showing that this family is envied by others.

Contented Conformers:
  • This picture would show everyone on the street being the same. Houses all in a row exactly the same, grass cut, similar cars pulling up to the houses with similar happy families getting out and going into their home.

Savings Account

  • A savings account that would help them reach the financial targets they need so they can buy that new exciting first time product/holiday/extreme sport.

  • For people who will be saving long term. An elderly couple enjoying their retirement holidaying in the sun.

Self Actualisers:
  • This group will be saving for fun with friends. Showing them enjoying holidays with friends, going out for expensive meals and generally having good times with other fun people.

Online Grocery Store

Self Actualisers:
  • Too busy with life to go to the supermarket so show this is the ideal site for them. Perhaps an advert where they are hanging out with friends when the door bell rings. They don’t hear the door but as their friends are leaving in the early hours of the morning they notice a box of groceries at the door and the customer is happy.

  • Show that they don’t have to leave the house. They don’t have to deal with the crowds at the supermarket, or bumping into people they don’t want to. They can order their shopping from the tranquillity of their own home.

An Election

  • Show them why they should vote.

  • Voting will help make the changes needed to help your country be first and be the best.


Contented Conformers:
  • See that their neighbour recycles they will then recycle too. Methods to get the whole street to recycle will ensure the contented conformer will join in.

  • Show that they will be first to make the difference. New techniques or websites for recycling may get them interested.

Self Actualiser:
  • Recycling could be a social activity that they can be involved in. They may be impressed by the creative products that can be achieved through the use of recycled items.

A Lift Share Service

Self Actualisers:
  • They’ll meet new people it’s a social event.

Esteem Seekers:        
  • Lift sharing would be a chance for them to show off to their peers. They will have a set time to brag, show others their new car or sample how good their colleague’s car is in comparison.

A Museum

Self Actualisers:
  • Enjoying a day out with friends at a museum. Make the social aspects of the museum attract them such as the cafes, the shop and the fact that you can meet people there.

  • The quiet, relaxing, informative side to the museum will appeal to the disconnected group. Also letting them know that it’s a place where you can be comfortable being alone.


  • The new technology will attract them as well as telling them they will be first and fastest.

Self Actualisers:
  • They will want this for social networking with ease and connecting with friends and family all over the world.

Neighbourhood Watch

Contented Conformers:
  • All the neighbours come together to create a safer neighbourhood. Together they will all be watching.

  • They will do this to keep their neighbourhood the same and make sure there is nothing or no-one standing out wildly.

International Flights

Self Actualisers:
  • Flying to see friends and family in exotic places. It’s the experience that matters not the price of the flight.

  • Trying new foods, taking new things home should entice this group to buy an international flight to be the first to visit a far off land.

Evening Classes

  • Learn new but traditional skills.

  • Keep skills alive. Relive the past.

A Local Newspaper

  • Keep up with local news and local social events.

Keep them up to date with outside world with out having to leave the house.

We Buy Benefits.

Successful businesses are those that advertise the benefits of their products. Instead of just stating what the product does they sell it to you on an emotional level by creating situations you can relate to. They do this by defining the rational and irrational decisions people will make before they buy specific products. They then combine the rational and irrational in their advert.

In this GHD advert the rational decision would be I need to use this product to straighten my hair. The irrational is that every one will be looking at me, I’ll look different, be envied by others. Therefore if you buy these GHDs you will be able to straighten your hair and be more beautiful.

Taking every day objects I will point out the rational and irrational decisions that could be made by the customer.

Flip Flops


Grey rubber flip flops. Shoes to wear during summer.

  • Protect feet.
  • Keep feet cool.
  • Quick to put on.
  • Comfortable.

  • Memories of summer.
  • Reminder of holidays and the beach.
  • Lazy days.
  • Fashionable.
  • Co-ordinates with certain outfits e.g. shorts.



Black plastic pen.

  • Used to write with.
  • Black professional colour for form filling.

  • Can use to write letters to loved ones.
  • Doodling.
  • Jotting down quick notes.

Drawing Pin.


Yellow drawing pin.

  • Used to pin items down or to a wall.
  • Hang things from.

  • Can display photos of holidays or special occasions.
  • Pin up art work or posters in bedroom.
  • Mark on a map places to visit.

Combining the rational and the rational decisions in an advert makes people want to buy.