Essay topic

Discuss why and in what ways the Facebook brand has lost trust and endured a number of crises since the Cambridge Analytica ‘scandal’. Back up your account by reference to news accounts across a range of trade papers and news outlets, Ensure you also draw on some academic scholarship, especially on branding, in answering this question.


1.2 What is an essay about?

Writing an essay provides you with opportunity to:

  • demonstrate what you have learnt over the term;
  • research and explore a topic in more depth;
  • develop a range of skills, including presenting the views and concepts of those you have read with clarity, offering your own argument based on  analysis of material you have gathered, and working with the ideas from authors;
  • develop the clarity and fluency of your writing.

The specific Learning Outcomes are:

  • Identify and evaluate key academic debates about the place and status of advertising in contemporary society;
  • Explain and deploy relevant theoretical frameworks and concepts to understand particular facets of advertising;
  • Demonstrate skills of presentation, synthesis of ideas, analysis and argumentation in written communication.

1.3 Essentials for this essay:

  • Every essay must have a small ‘case study’ or ‘research focus’, i.e. you discuss your chosen essay question in relation to a particular set of materials that you have gathered (ie. you should not only discuss ads that other authors have considered or just discuss reading). You need to test out ideas on your own
  • All essay questions are about ‘opening up’ discussion on your selected topic.

2          How to proceed

  • Look closely at a few possible questions: what do you think they are suggesting you should/could focus on? Discuss with fellow students to start with and then your tutor. It’s a good idea to speak with your tutor sooner rather than later! They can also help you with the following:
    • How to focus your essay.
    • What reading from the module you can draw on to engage with this essay question, before you start looking for further reading.
    • What case study or research material to gather and discuss in your essay. This may often be ads themselves, contemporary or historical, online/offline, commercial/charity/political. It may be ads in their media context whether online or offline; comment and discourses about advertising in the trade press, news, blogs, or by consumers on social media. It could be interviews.

3          Essay plan

  • An essay plan is your road map of how to get from A (introduction) to Z (conclusion). It should be developed through several stages from ideas you write down initially to something more worked out and linear in which you detail what will be included in each section or group of paragraphs.
  • Initially, so that your tutor can better support your essay writing, try to do the following (using the template headings at the end of this document, p.6):
  • List one (or two essay titles) you’re interested in.
  • Indicate what you think the title is asking you to do
  • Indicate at least 2 core readings you think might be relevant to each title and explain why you think their argument/ideas or content are relevant.
  • Highlight what case study/research material you think you could collect and focus on in order to engage with each of these questions.
  • Any worries or concerns or questions you have at this point?

4          Essay content

  • Roughly half of your essay (the first half) will draw on and discuss the reading you have done.
  • Your account of the case study/research material, when written up, constitutes at least 30-40% of your essay and it may be up to 50% of the essay,
  • A strong essay will use reading to help contextualize, understand and analyze your case study/ research material.
  • Your essay will need an introduction explaining how you are tackling the essay question (don’t assume the title speaks for itself) and pointing to the case study/research material you are gathering/engaging with.
  • It will also need a conclusion. Remember a conclusion does not have to be definitive and close off discussion. It can summarise and highlight what you have found out and what you have argued. It can also raise further questions, unsettling what you might have initially thought was a simple or clear cut debate.
  • You may use some sub-headings in your essay in order to provide structure and signposting. But limit to 6 maximum, including Introduction and Conclusion; ; otherwise the essay is likely to become ‘bitty’ with argument not developed in a sustained way.

5          Essay structure

  • Introduction: This needs to address how you are approaching the essay title. It may include explaining and/or historically contextualizing your topic. (250 words, maybe longer if includes latter).
  • A section highlighting and discussing ideas you are drawing on from core (and other) reading and (if relevant) how other scholars might have approached the topic you are pursuing (approx 800-1000 words).
  • In the second half, it may be appropriate (depending on your Intro to essay) to provide a description of your case study/research material (approx 250 words).
  • You may then perhaps have two sections (with sub-headings) looking at your material in two slightly different ways. You will be using some ideas from the first half of the essay but also other authors to engage with, analyse, understand your material  and develop your arguments  (approx 800-1000 words)
  • Conclusion (approx 150-200 words)
  • Appendices (optional). These – an example might be the ASA regulation on alcohol advertising, and bibliography do not count as part of your word length.
  • List of visual material you have used (if any) providing web links and date you accessed if retrieved electronically. If you have taken photos or retrieved material from magazines etc, then give source, again including date. Keep this separate from:
  • Bibliography, listed alphabetically by author/editor’s last name. MFM usually advise the Harvard method (author, year, title, place of publication, publisher) but so long as you are consistent any method is acceptable.

6          Presentation of essay

– Double space (as in this paragraph)

– Use a font which is at least 11 point, preferably 12 point

– If including copies of print ads/screen shots of video/social media pages, ensure that the images are big enough to see everything that you comment on and any copy (ie. words) can easily be read without the marker having to zoom in (and then out again). This may mean they need to fill a page.  Integrate images into the essay rather than put at the end; they will better contribute to your essay (and ease  electronic marking).

– Provide a caption and label images, Figure 1, 2 etc and refer to them in your essay as you make a point  ‘In the BMW ad (see Figure 1)…’

Indicate what you think each title is asking you to do

Indicate at least 2 core readings you think might be relevant to each essay title

Indicate why you think the argument/ideas or content in these two readings are relevant (selecting a few relevant  quotes from these articles  would be a good way of tackling this)

Highlight what case study/research material you think you could collect and focus on in order to engage with each of these questions.

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