Price of Values

The purpose of this study is to inform advertisers, designers and consumers of our individual values, collective values and ethical standards.

Shruthi Manjula Balakrishna
Graduate student
Vermont College of Fine Arts

When stopped to consider the culture of the 21st century: Each morning, we hear a half dozen ads on the radio before our feet touch the floor. Staggering out of bed, we pass brand logos on our clothing and in our bathrooms. By the end of the day, hundreds – perhaps thousands of marketing messages would have targeted us, and yet so little is understood about how marketing affects our lives, our society, our world and most importantly, our personal values.

This research paper takes a hard look at the dangerous side effects of advertising – especially for women. The paper reviews how us women, who are biologically more vulnerable to alcohol than men, and who often suffer from depression and eating disorders, are more likely to seek connection to alcohol, food, and cigarettes, partly as a response to disconnection in our human relationships. The paper proposes that this disconnection is a sense of emptiness, and people who feel empty make great consumers. The text ponders on how this emptiness makes us turn to products, especially potentially addictive products, to fill us up, to make us feel whole.

Additionally, the paper deliberates the importance of responsible and empathetic design to make real, world changing, culture defining, values shaping difference. It discusses how every one of us designers in the advertising industry have an important role to play, and since the advertising industry played a part in building and setting in motion the wagon of consumerism and capitalism that is now diving us to the edge of the cliff, we should help solve these worldwide problems in a responsible and engaging way.

To demonstrate the observations, research, and opinions discussed in the paper, posters were designed in pop-art style because pop-art is not only drawn form mass media and popular culture, but is also “coolly” ambivalent. Whether that suggests an acceptance of the popular world or a shocked withdrawal is viewer interpretation – all with a sprinkle of parody.

The purpose of this study is to inform advertisers, designers and consumers that our individual values, collective values and ethical standards define us both as individuals and as people.

African Americans in Advertising: Images, Stereotypes, and Symbolism

Dissecting social, cultural and historical meanings in images is to explore the dynamics of social power and ideology that produced them.

Omari Souza
Assistant Professor
Texas State University

Through advertising, designers play a vital role in crafting a product’s identity. These identities construct cultural “myths” and morality of products, teams, political affiliations, and their respective consumers. A brand is a visual signifier of a lifestyle that imbues the consumer’s social status with the economic and social value of the products they use.  While this may have positive economic implications, the consumer’s subscription to various brand narratives can encourage tribalism in addition to negatively impact the understanding of others.

For example, the characteristics and symbols that have historically been used to represent blacks in advertising have forged permanent images of African Americans into the American psyche. These characteristics have exceeded the conventional boundaries of symbols and evolved into an icon. These icons have had detrimental impacts on African Americans who reside in western society. 

The work of dissecting social, cultural and historical meanings in images is to explore the dynamics of social power and ideology that produced them. This research examines the manifestation of widely shared social assumptions of African Americans in Advertisements of the Jim Crow South. The 1940s psychological experiment Doll Test will be used to contextualize the impact of these images and will conclude by drawing parallels between racist ads of the past and current Ads that echo similar motifs.

A Taste of Miami: Mentors, Creative Teams, Award Shows

John Delacruz
Associate Professor of Advertising
School of Journalism and Mass Communications 
San Jose State University

A mentor is a friendly guide who helps a less experienced person by demonstrating positive behaviors. To be effective, a mentor’s role is to be dependable, engaged, authentic, and tuned into the mentee’s needs and limitations. Mentoring is important because students learn from essential knowledge and skills from their mentors whilst also providing an understanding of workplace practices. This is certainly the case in the creative industries.

The creative industries rely on mentorship practices,  they require team-working skills and the ability to learn, support and help others in an increasingly inter-disciplinary environment.  Students at San Jose State University (SJSU) aiming to enter the creative industries have been working on a project with Miami Ad School in San Francisco. Miami Ad School, a portfolio school with campuses worldwide, intensively prepares students to enter the advertising industry as art directors and copywriters. In two years students develop approaches to problem-solving, they develop their craft and become confident communicators of ideas as they learn from experienced creatives at the top of their game. In fact, MAS is guided by an active teaching and learning model where the instructor can be seen as a mentor as much as a teacher.

SJSU students have been included in MAS creative teams on a course that focuses on award show student competition briefs. The aim is to better understand how mentoring can take place within a creative team where, through active learning, undergraduate students can develop new approaches to their own practice as a result of working alongside students immersed in different pedagogies. Will these undergraduates bring a new approach back to their SJSU classes and will their work improve as a result? Expectations and reflections gathered at both the start and end of the exercise will provide valuable insights.

Be Good to Me: How Advertising Students Made San Jose Think Twice About Illegal Dumping

John Delacruz
Professor of Advertising
School of Journalism and Mass Communications
San Jose State University

Creativity is a powerful driver for brand communications. Entertaining and engaging, we tell the world stories across media channels that encourage consumption and allow brands a central role in shaping identities, communities and history. The skills learnt by students on creative programs can be a force for good. As educators in the field of advertising and other creative industries we should be guiding our students to make ethically minded decisions, not just to continue the cycle of consumption of which we, as communicators, are integral spokes.

In this case study they learn the importance of empathy and how this becomes a strength in the communications process, they learn to respond to a real life client and a real life target group. They also learn about issues that impact the community, the environment, and become better informed citizens. Our students have grown up with social currency, they are a sharing generation, global citizens, media aware and ethically minded. They are already switched on to alternative futures and therefore open to guidance on how to use their creativity for good.

This case study will focus on one specific example of service learning from the advertising program at San Jose State University. Our client was the City of San Jose’s Environmental Services Division in collaboration with CommUniverCity. The brief was to inform citizens of San Jose about illegal dumping. Our students crafted a campaign that spoke of the relationships between our everyday stuff and ourselves, reminding us to treat our treasures with respect when the time comes to let them go. They worked in an agency team and learnt about issues affecting urban neighborhoods and the environment. The program offered them experience reflecting the world of work and the world around them, civic responsibility and storytelling. They have hopefully become informed, engaged and aware citizens as well as effective and creative communicators.

Teaching Design in the Age of Convergence

Robin Landa  
Distinguished Professor
Michael Graves College, Kean University  

To help people master Canon’s capabilities, 360i in partnership with Canon “set out to create a classroom experience in the field.” With Canon Photo Coach, 360i helped photo enthusiasts take the kind of photos they hoped for. 360i “used social listening to find New York City’s most photographed areas and then placed billboards right where people were taking those photos.” They created smart billboards—digital screens and trucks equipped with giant monitors that tapped into API data such as light, weather, time, traffic, location and events—giving real-time tips to photographers right when they needed them. This solution is neither conventional advertising nor graphic design.

Interactive public screens. Mobile design. Social media design. Environmental experiences. From any consumer’s point of view, brand experiences have been converging. However some design courses remain in pre-digital era silos.

Moira Cullen, Coca-Cola’s former design director, once said our profession could no longer tolerate thinking in silos. Yet we’re still divided in departments, in the classroom, and in our own brains. Contemporary visual communication problems demand new types of pedagogy.

To effectively address dealing with this convergence, I have been abolishing graphic design and advertising categories (and some conventions) in the classroom. Getting my students to think of visual communication as value-added experiences is my approach. I do this by asking students to consider the following questions when critiquing their own concepts.

  • What benefit does your concept offer people?
  • Is there any social good you can promote while promoting a brand?
  • Can a design or advertising solution be in the form of entertainment, a product, service, or utility?

As a result, my students have secured coveted internships and jobs with New York City agencies and studios. It’s time to embrace integrated ways to teach in the age of convergence.

 

Graphic Design in the Zone: Peak Performance in Picturing Sport

Jen Roos
Assistant Professor of Graphic Design
Computer Arts + Design
Mercy College
Founder and Principal
8 Point Studio

While much has been written about the significance of sport and graphic design in culture, there exists a gap in research examining their intersection. The cultural impact of sport and graphic design has increased and so has the importance of this growing body of design. The history of graphic design for sport reveals important cultural attitudes toward human movement, and contemporary design in this category depicts our shifting attitudes in the face of significant societal change. Contemporary designs for sport display an increasingly sophisticated and groundbreaking visual language for the poetics of movement through space. This modern translation of the experience of “flow”, or “being in the zone”, provides a heightened and visceral sense of great feats of modern physical prowess — albeit at a remove. Our current outsourcing of movement to visual and virtual realms and idolization of the promise of technology threaten to imperil our actual experience of physical movement and health on a global scale.

Individuals experience the seduction of motion more than ever by virtue of the rapidly evolving digital world and expanding global presence of sport. At the same time, health research indicates that we as a society are becoming dangerously sedentary. Given that we are increasingly detached from physical movement and real-life athletic experiences, we naturally seek visuals that represent the glories of the pinnacle of motion. We now need to ask if design and sport can work together to encourage — not just lionize — movement. Global entities such as Nike have begun to experiment with ways graphic design might inspire physical movement, an important mission that could have larger, positive implications for the role that graphic design can play in improving our future health across the world.