Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Research Methodology

In this methodology, I have chosen to take a qualitative strategy in order to have more in-depth answers to questions. Focus shall be particularly made on three methods of collecting data namely; email interviews, one-to-one interviews and observations. As so-called, qualitative research shall focus on gathering relevant data for a specific use rather than collecting mere figures or a 'yes/no' answer.

This collected data shall be verified and transformed into information that shall be subsequently answered and argued if alternative methods of automobile advertisement are more effective and/or viable than traditional channels of advertisement.

The first qualitative phase of this study will focus on the outcome of recent alternative campaigns that international automobile companies have set up. Through the email interviews I intend to compare the traditional marketing strategies and how such advertisement methods have evolved into sophisticated and interactive advertisements, to see their effectiveness on their target markets and the impact that such promotional strategies have left on people. This phase will address the following research questions:

1. What is the customer response to interactive advertisements, as opposed to traditional?
2. To what extent do your interactive advertisements affect your sales?

The limitation for this method of research stands whether such automobile companies would reply to any of the emails. A study by Lokman I. Meho (2006) concludes that while a diverse mode interviewing strategy should be considered when possible, e-mail interviewing can be in many cases a feasible alternative to face-to-face and telephone interviewing.

The second qualitative phase whill emphasis on one-to-one interviews with local automobile marketing managers, Ivan Grech for Mercedes Benz, Symira Bianchi for BMW, Jonathan Cremona for Toyota and managing director Carolyn Zammit for Gasan Zammit Ltd. According to Peter Woods (2006) an excessive distribution of qualitative material derives from talking with people whether it is through formal interviews or casual conversations. Furthermore, Peter Woods emphasises that it is essential for the researchers to develop empathy with interviewees and win their confidence and also to be unobtrusive, in order not to impose one's own influence on the interviewee. There are also a number of techniques researchers uses in the natural course of the discussion to aid clarity, depth and validity, such as searching for opinions, asking for clarifications and explanations while also presenting alternatives, seeking comparisons and also aiming for comprehensiveness. These, amongst many others are procedures that will result in a successful interview. Through the interviews I will gather the relevant information regarding traditional strategies versus alternative methods of automobile advertisement in Malta. I shall also address how the psychology of automobile consumer buying behaviour works. The research questions will vary from one section to another, starting with the automobile consumer buying behaviour, followed by discussing traditional advertising. In order to explain what is meant by alternative methods, recent automobile campaign videos will be shown to the interviewee. Questions regarding alternative methods will then be discussed. The outcome will determine how the aforementioned issues are treated in Malta. Furthermore, this research method together with the final project will define a certain aspect towards the thesis questions.

The third and final phase of the research methodology will be the case study that will consist of an observation strategy between two methods of advertising to promote a motorcycle company in Malta called SYM. The company is at a very early stage; therefore this method will determine which advertising method is most effective. The first advertising method will be a traditional flyer while the second advertising method will be an interactive motorcycle installation. Both methods shall be presented during a 4-day period and through observations I will conclude which method will attract most people.
Marshall and Rossman (1989) describe observation as "The systematic description of events, behaviours and artefacts in the social setting chosen for study" (p.79). In addition, observation enables the researcher to describe existing situations and to learn about the activities of the people under study in the natural setting through observing and participating in those activities. Schmuch (1997) explains that obseration methods are useful since they provide researchers with ways to check for nonverbal expressions of feelings.

Literature Review

This is just part of the literature review where I have research a brief history of how automobile consumer buying behaviour and advertisement changed throughout the years. 

(the detailed version)

Automobiles have always been a cultural icon, the essence of modernity and a work of art. Automobile advertising techniques had to be particularly persuasive due to the financial commitments incurred by the potential customer.

The first twenty years of the 20th century saw a shift in the aesthetics and techniques of advertising. Automobile were luxury items that were changing from a curious invention played with by the wealthy, to an aesthetic passenger vehicle. Advertising tended to be reassuring, emphasising technical merits and reliability, presenting a simple side-on illustration or photography of the car with columns of fine print listing mechanical features. Henry Ford changed the face of automobile industry and made cars more affordable and available. He believed that the future lay in making affordable motorcars for masses. Ten years after the Ford Motor Company was creating, it was making half the cars in America.

In 1915, the Cadillac's revolutionary advertisement "The Penalty of Leadership" (Figure 1.1) marked a change in advertisement style and attitude. It was a huge success that helped restore its reputation.

(Figure 1.1)

Vehicle style and appearance had later on developed into the craze for 'streamlining' were cars started to look longer, lower and rounder in advertising illustrations while manufacturers were introducing new and original model names every year. Surveys taken during the 1930's revealed that car consumers were easily seduced by the 'look' of a car and tended not to respond rationally when it came to purchasing it. The car was quickly becoming a statement of status and taste.

Advertisement was also targeting women, emphasising on the style and image of the car, rather than any economic or technologic advantage, thus also demonstrating the simplicity and safety of the product (Figure 1.2).

(Figure 1.2)

After the Second World War, companies were keen to give the impression of looking to the future and promising a new beginning. By the end of the decade, the sales of new cars reached an all-time record of just under five million a year. In advertisements, cars depicted driving on newly built bridges, dams and motorways. In 1956, car manufacturers were putting their efforts into the design production of smaller and more economical cars. The Volkswagen Beetle made a hit when it became the top-selling foreign car in the U.S due to the revolutionary advertising campaign created by Bill Bernbach. Many consider this campaign to have ushered in the era of modern advertising, a 'creative revolution' by using techniques that challenged, surprised and engaged the viewer. "Think Small" (Figure 1.3) showed honesty and self-effacing advertising that addressed the viewer with respect and intelligence.

(Figure 1.3)

The 1960s saw the stirrings of a creative revolution in style and affluent advertising techniques. The car was becoming a universal purchase and customers would not ask themselves 'do we need a car', but 'which car shall we buy?'

Surprisingly, car producers in Britain did not take advantage of the new opportunities of television advertising, as they feared that the rising costs and associated risks of committing to expensive and untested methods. However this had finally changed in the 1970s when Datsun started a major television advertising campaign. In addition, more sophisticated photographic techniques and colour photography were being used more commonly in advertisements. Automobile advertisement led its way towards safety, efficiency, cleaner emissions and a general reduction in car size due the huge increase in traffic, rise in oil prices and general awareness of environmental issues. Volvo and Rover emphasised safety in their advertising campaigns (Figure 1.4); one's that have been developed imaginatively and very successfully over the years.

(Figure 1.4)

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Design Process

I am also creating a design structure / branding for the whole installation project. This involves an illustrative (vector) style image including a ladybird and motorcycle skid marks, thus representing the whole installation. I shall be implementing this design throughout the whole process. 

These are some ideas which I developed through previous brainstorming sessions

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Installation Sketching

Advertising a company / product through an interactive installation is not enough if the overall project set-up is not visually appealing and interesting. I've been working out some sketches of what can be done to create an affecting environment and attract passers-by.