Research Essay Assignment
• To provide an opportunity to critically analyze a specific advertising campaign.
• To practice the skills of academic scholarship. This includes doing research, writing a thesis statement, providing evidence to prove your argument.
• To demonstrate an ability to make sense of advertising using the types of theoretical frames that have been developed in the course.
Purpose of Assignment
The purpose of this assignment is to write a critical analysis of a specific issue that is part of a current advertising campaign (or series of campaigns). Use a current advertising campaign (after the year 2000) as a starting point and as site of your own analysis in your essay. You will want to refer to specific ads as an example to help make your point in your essay. You can use the campaign you spoofed if you like (or not).
Please ensure that your level of analysis is critical, reflective, and appropriate for a third year level.
Make sure that you choose a specific narrow site of study that allows for a depth of analysis as opposed to a wide broad topic that offers little opportunity for an in depth critique.
Content of Assignment
Start with a specific issue you are interested in critiquing in advertising. Below are potential starting points for your analysis
• Start by asking critical questions as to why advertising is portraying something in a particular way,
o it could be a particular identity; i.e. gender, age, race, class, sexuality, able/disabled bodies
o it could be a particular issue or topic; i.e. education, family, religion, science, aging, celebrity, politics, motherhood
o it could be a particular type of product/activity i.e. smoking, cars, alcohol, gambling, condoms, organic food, children’s food
What is happening socially, culturally, politically or economically that would warrant such a portrayal? What does this portrayal reveal about contemporary society. You may want to ask how such a portrayal reinforces or contests particular ideologies?
• Note: DO NOT write an essay about the effects of advertising. You do not have the resources to be able to adequately assess how a particular advertising campaign “affects” a population. Also effects based research is really, really problematic.
Choose a specific advertising campaign as your own research. Find out about the campaign by consulting trade journals. (see moodle Doing Research for more information). You can reference the ads, reflect on them, comment on them. Make sure you have a paragraph at the beginning of your paper (after the introduction) that outlines the campaign, or gives relevant background material on the campaign (i.e.) Who is the target market, what is the idea behind the creative execution, where was the ad shown, the cost of the campaign, etc).
The sources used for this, do not count as academic refereed sources, they are part of your own research. You should have at least 3-4 sources for this but of course more would be helpful.
You will also need to do more research beyond the course text. You must consult at least 8 scholarly sources (at least 2 of these must be refereed articles and 2 scholarly books) beyond the course material.
On top of these 8 sources you also MUST refer to at least one reading from the course syllabus.
Use what other scholars have stated on different topics, to make sense of your own topic. This is good scholarship.
In doing your scholarly research you most likely will not find academic work that deals directly with your topic. Instead you will need to apply what has been argued in relation to other subjects to your own topic. This is the basic premise of good academic papers. Use your secondary research to make sense of the primary.
Your research paper must include
a) a proper title page (with a good title that reflects the essay)
b) a properly formatted essay that includes:
? An introduction
? A proper thesis statement
? A paragraph that gives a background on the campaign
? 3 sections (consisting of multiple paragraphs) that prove your thesis statement. You need to reference both the primary and secondary resources to do this.
? References to the ad campaign as a site of our own research
? Analysis of your findings by using secondary sources (use both direct quotes and paraphrasing)
? A conclusion.
c) a proper bibliography of at least 8 refereed sources and 3-4 non-academic sources, and 1 source from the course readings.
d) the ads themselves, you may wish to include them in your paper or as an appendix.
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