Ad/Graph Thesis – Conducting Research

Last week, I explained that I was more or less settled on the topic of space exploration. After explaining this to the class last week, everyone seemed pretty intrigued in one form or another. Here are some of the major takeaways and initial reactions since then:

• A large portion of the class doesn't consider themselves well-versed in all things space, but many would be willing to learn a few interesting facts.

• Some people are not fond of space, most often due to its vastness, emptiness, and mysterious nature.

• A select few people are very interested in space, and are quick to talk about it in-depth.

A discussion with the class proved to be a great litmus test, but I'm still not certain about what I should highlight within the topic of space exploration.

One thing that I've been especially intrigued by this week, however, is the Voyager Record. Two copies of this gold-plated copper disc have been sent out into space aboard Voyager 1 and 2, with the former having officially left our solar system a few years ago. Should any intelligent life stumble across the records, they will find a variety of sound clips, greetings, songs, diagrams, and images of what we believe to encapsulate humanity. It definitely has me thinking about what the people of today (myself included) would want to send out. It's a communication challenge in the truest sense, and that's what I find most interesting. Below is an image of the record, along with some the media stored inside.

I've also been fascinated by the space-related milestones that humanity have made, as well as what lies ahead. The Voyager probes are billions of miles away, Rosetta landed on a comet in the fall, and NASA has recently announced plans to explore the icy moon of Europa (which might have subsurface oceans). It could very well be that my thesis project finds ways to share interesting facts like these, in an attempt to provoke and celebrate human curiosity. If many of the people attending the show in April are fearful of space, a human element could certainly make things more accessible.

Europa, Jupiter's icy moon

As I've said, there are countless elements to space exploration, and it's hard narrowing things down. Perhaps it's worth conducting a survey by next week, so I can determine what people might find interesting.

I've also begun creating a short list of people that I'd like to try and contact for additional research, including Richard Bentham (an exhibition designer from the National Air & Space Museum), Edward C. Stone (the chief scientist of the Voyager missions), and maybe a public figure like Neil deGrasse Tyson or Michio Kaku. Some of these people are long shots, but we'll see what happens. Within the next week, I'll hopefully begin talking with people on the subject.

As difficult as the initial stages can be, I'm excited about what will happen in the next couple of weeks.

Ad/Graph Thesis – Pursuing a Topic

Last week, I explained that I wasn't certain what topic I'd explore for the thesis project. I was hoping that by this point, I'd begin generating ideas, and possibly gravitate towards one.

Some of areas of interest that I've considered:

Space Exploration
The accomplishments that mankind has made have always filled me with wonder and awe. From Voyager 1 leaving the solar system to Rosetta landing on a comet, we've gone farther and discovered more than many would first believe, and I think that's worth showcasing.

LEGO
This was a large and formative part of my youth, and I love its endless applications, from functional appliances to artistic works. This might be better suited as a medium than as a topic, however.

Found Objects
I've always had a strange obsession with collecting random objects that I find, like bottle caps, miscellaneous electronics, broken car parts, and much more. With concepts like upcycling, DIY, and giving value back to something, I think a project on found objects would be very interesting to explore.

Voice Acting
This area has always intrigued me, too, especially since I've lent my voice on a number of occasions to other students' projects. Much like LEGO, however, I don't know how well this area lends itself to the objectives of the thesis project.

I'm gravitating toward Space Exploration (no pun intended), and I've already checked out several books on the subject. By next week, I plan to conduct a great deal of research, and hopefully start reaching out to others for additional advice, opinions, and knowledge.

The Voyager 1 probe. Source: NASA

The Voyager 1 probe. Source: NASA

Ron Miller's artistic visualization of a 75 million mile wide planetary ring system 430 light years away, discovered Monday. Source: TIME

Ron Miller's artistic visualization of a 75 million mile wide planetary ring system 430 light years away, discovered Monday. Source: TIME

Big Brand Project – Selecting a Brand and Beginning Research

Getting Started

Last week, we formally began our project for the "Big Brand" project, which requires us to explore a single product/service for the remainder of the semester. Since then, we've needed to select our client and commence our research.

In short, I've selected Swedish Fish as my brand. I've been familiar with it for several years, and have been surprised at its overall lack of branding and advertising prowess despite its many years on shelves. I also chose it because I think it might be the kind of project that would allow me to explore illustrative design more, especially as it pertains to packaging and motion graphics pieces, which are areas of intense interest to me.

swedishfish

Secondary Research

I've been a little surprised that I haven't found volumes of information on Swedish Fish, but I've gathered a few facts nonetheless.

Swedish Fish is often classified as a gummy candy, but it's more specifically a wine gum candy, which is slightly firmer and contains slightly different ingredients. Its lack of gelatin is probably the most noteworthy aspect, making Swedish Fish vegetarian-friendly.

It was first introduced in 1957 by Malaco, a Swedish confectionary company and subsidiary of Cloetta (formerly known as Leaf). In the following decades, the candy found its way to candy store shelves and movie theaters, and is still widely considered to be one of those "old-timey" confections.


Competition:

Sour Patch Kids – A soft, sugar-coated gummy candy manufactured by British company Maynards. There have been many different flavors over the decades. (Based on what I see people my age buy, I think this will be one of the biggest competitors.)

Jelly Babies – British gummy candy created by Bassett's, whose parent company is Cadbury-Schweppes. Since 2007, the brand has switched over to using natural ingredients (but continues to use gelatin).

Jujubes – A genericized brand of gummies that, at least in America, are made by the Ferrara Candy Company. Their texture and consistency differs from country to country, but they're often a firmer gummy. Despite this, they contain gelatin, and don't necessarily qualify as wine gum candy.

Dots – American gum drops that were first introduced by Tootsie Roll Industries in 1945. According to PETA, they qualify as vegan, and Tootsie Roll Industries states that they are gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, and kosher. Many flavors and varieties have since been produced, including seasonal, sour, and licorice flavored ones.

Twizzlers – American licorice brand created by Y&S Candies, Inc. in 1845, and owned by the Hershey Company since 1977. Its cherry flavored SKU is one of the oldest confections in the United States.

There are many others, but these are just a few. In theory, chocolates, sour candies, gum, lollipops, and many other kinds of sweets could be competition as well.


Target Audience

Adults aged 18-35 that have an interest in sweets, as well as novelties, other cultures, and new experiences. If given the chance to circumvent the run-of-the-mill lifestyle, they'll seize it.
 

Primary Research Questions

I've also begun putting together focus group questions that could aid me in qualitative research. Here are just a few of the areas I'd like to cover when talking with people:

• What is your name and favorite candy? Why?
• What kind of value do you place on candy that's harder to obtain?
• Do you have special candies that are reserved for special occasions? What is that like?
• How much candy do you own at any given time? Where do you keep it? How long will you have it?
• How likely are you to share candy with others? Why?
• How much would you consider yourself to be a kid at heart?
• How much would you consider yourself to be nostalgic?
• How health-conscious are you?
• If the following candies were at a party, what would they be doing?

- Skittles
- Twizzlers
- Tootsie Pops
- Jelly Belly Jelly Beans
- Sour Patch Kids
- Mike and Ike
- Jelly Babies
- Nik-L-Nip Wax Bottles
- Swedish Fish
- Circus Peanuts
- Haribo Gummy Bears (Specifically non-sugarfree)
- Trolli Gummy Worms
- Jolly Ranchers
- Dots
 

Looking Ahead

Within this next week, I plan to produce 100 logo sketches and set up a few focus groups. Busy? Maybe.

Causes I Care About Campaign – Research and Strategy

Last week, I explained a few of the causes that I was considering for this project, with my top pick being Franklinton Gardens. Although much has happened recently, I'll keep these developments somewhat brief:

Description and Problems

Franklinton Gardens is a local nonprofit that operates a network of community gardens. With the support of donations and volunteers, they grow fresh, organic produce in an area that's devoid of access to such food. The vegetables are then sold on-site and at farmers' markets, or donated to food pantries. In short, their work includes growing healthy food, renewing urban spaces, and promoting an interest in gardening/community involvement.

Although the organization has continued to grow, few people outside of Franklinton know about their work, prompting a need for greater awareness and engagement. There's also a slightly negative perception of Franklinton as a community, so placing greater emphasis on programs like this is crucial.

Target and Strategy

I plan on targeting middle-class individuals that fall under the "reformer" archetype. These people live within the Columbus limits, support local establishments, participate in city events, and search for new ways to be closer to their community. By appealing to their sense of collective "ownership" of the city they admire, I hope to demonstrate that a garden can do so much more than simply grow vegetables; it can strengthen a community, make everything feel a little closer to home, and renew urban spaces. Here are my 3 strategies:


1 – “Local In Every Way”

The cause is local in every sense: the gardens, the volunteers, the produce that’s grown, and the beneficiaries (including the targets themselves).

2 – “More Than Produce”
The community gardens don’t just grow vegetables; they promote healthy, sustainable living, renew neglected urban spaces, and bring people closer together.

3 – “No Green Thumb Required”
Not everyone may be a professional gardener, but that doesn’t mean they can’t learn or donate.

Visual Inspiration and Sketches

Within this strategy, I intend to explore several visual concepts:

1 – An approach that places emphasis on the human elements behind the cause. A pleasant, more subdued with more earthy colors and handmade lettering and illustrations that emphasize the hands that go into the gardens, as well as the organic produce that comes as a result. These would all serve as accents to the photography/video in the campaign. Stylistically, this is probably the most "down-to-earth" tactic:

inspirationboard1
TDunbar_Causes_Sketch_01.jpg

 

2 – A series that utilize textured, graphic illustrations of produce, gardening tools, hands, and faces, striking a balance between the hands-on aspect of the cause and the contemporary appeal towards the target demographic in question. Unlike the first campaign idea, these illustrations would serve as the dominant visuals, with any photography/video serving as a secondary element. This direction might be the most lighthearted and playful of the three:

inspirationboard2

 

3 – A bold, colorful, and more contemporary campaign that reinforces the local, approachable nature of the organization, coupled with photography and video. Illustration is almost nonexistent here, with real-world footage doing most of the "talking." This concept would arguably have the slickest, most professional look:

inspirationboard3

 

Visiting the Gardens

I also took the opportunity to visit the gardens a few days ago, giving me the chance to speak with a few volunteers. When I asked them about their experiences, they were quick to mention the amount of knowledge gained and camaraderie formed from working in the gardens, Apparently, the gardens have received such strong support from the community that many neighbors have been inspired to start gardens of their very own, a trend that excites the volunteers. As far as improvements go, the cause has been meaning to work on promoting its mission through more than simply word-of-mouth, which is exactly what this project is intended to do.

Moving Forward

Simply put, hearing from people with firsthand experience was incredibly helpful, and they've given me a handful of upcoming events that could be great photography/filming opportunities. I've pulled inspiration and will soon sketch out several concepts. By next week, I should begin producing content for the different deliverables, such as photography, illustrations, and storyboards.