I have attended a number of webinars on how to use a PhD, and the skills involved in completing a PhD, in future work and academic interviews. The top tips will be updated soon, but in the meantime I have recorded key resources that may be useful to PhD students looking for employment.
A blog post on how to use a PhD in future work options for arts and humanities: https://phd-careers.co.uk/2022/05/03/how-can-you-use-your-phd-in-your-future-work-options-for-arts-humanities-phds/.
Please also watch the video below to learn about how to communicate the value of a postgraduate degree:
Samantha Ford, researcher, explains in a blog post for Big Cat Agency how creative testing revealed the balance of creative and figurative communication to encourage people from the West Midlands to take up cycling (or return to it). The campaign applied multiple behavioural biases and heuristics in its design.
Samantha says: "It is so rewarding to see the culmination of collaborative efforts with Big Cat Agency in our creative testing for West Midlands Cycle. We found that while sometimes simplicity is best, clarity can still be creative. The balanced use of figurative communication in the 'Yes I Wheel' cycling campaign encourages people to take up cycling in the West Midlands region of the UK."
On 31st May 2022, I attended a webinar on how to design posters, particularly for academic conferences. The webinar was delivered by Dr Zen Faulkes, founder of Better Posters blog.
The key tips taken from the webinar will be updated soon, but in the meantime please take a look at Dr Faulkes' blog on how to design better posters for more information.
Dr Faulkes has also published a book on this topic, which is affordable to purchase. View here.
I presented in the panel session: Health & Wellbeing: Reimagining community mental health provisions.
Taking responsibility: The power of figurative communication in sports advertising and its role in tackling social issues of equality and mental health
Over the course of the Coronavirus pandemic, our mental and physical health, and the intrinsic link between them, has become critical (Global Web Index, 2020; Shakespeare, 2020). Yet despite national lockdowns, people have taken up sport from home (Ford, 2020; Shakespeare, 2020; Wells & Ford, 2020). Increasingly, people are investing in a brand culture they trust and that shares their values, which means that popular sports brands have the power to advocate and advance the improvement of social issues including gender equality, and health and wellbeing in society. However, many brands still seem to perpetuate stereotypes that can be very damaging, especially to minority groups.
Advertisers frequently use figurative communication, such as metaphor, to directly engage and implicitly persuade audiences (Ford et al., 2021; Pérez-Sobrino et al., 2021). Metaphor can convey messages indirectly by comparing something to something else in a way that is vibrant and creative, but also poignant and thought-provoking (e.g. Ford et al., 2021; PérezSobrino, 2016). Depending on how sports brands use figurative communication in their advertising, they can help or hinder the betterment of societal health. Thus, sports brands need to carefully consider what they communicate in their advertising and how they do so, and to take responsibility over their contribution to public attitudes toward social issues in sport.
In this talk, I will observe what values and attitudes sports brands are advocating in their TV commercials and how they use figurative communication to convey their message, and evaluate whether their approach is improving or hindering attitudes toward social issues. I analysed 20 commercials sampled from the adforum.com's (2021) archive of award-winning campaigns from the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity between the years 2015 and 2021.
Preliminary analysis of 17 commercials has identified some common themes are community, equality in sport (increasing the representation of women), and the challenge and fulfilment of doing sport (improving mental health). Metaphor is used to represent these values and relate them to sport, framing sport as art, a supernatural power, or a religion. Commercials released during 2020 and 2021 used figurative communication to refer to the pandemic indirectly and what sport can do for people during this time. Experiential metaphors were often used; for example, the experience of training or losing a match was compared to other experiences, such as ‘fighting’ inequality in sport and COVID19 restrictions. Further insights from this study will inform how we might use commercial advertising to tackle social issues to the benefit of all, as well as just business.
adforum.com. (2021). Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity Winners. Adforum. https://www.adforum.com/award-organization/6650183/showcase/winners
Ford, S. (2020). Identifying the behavioural habits of gym-goers to inform an emotional ‘hook’ in advertising. University of Birmingham and Big Cat Limited. https://www.creativebrief.com/agency/big-cat/insights/identifying-behaviouralhabits-gym-goers-inform-emotional-hook-advertising
Ford, S., Littlemore, J., & Houghton, D. (2021). "Got a Spark with Brook? Engaging Consumers in a Sexual Health Campaign through the Use of Creative (Metaphorical) Double Entendres. Metaphor and Symbol, 36(4), pp. 207-228.
Global Web Index. (2020). Coronavirus Research (Series 8: Health).
Pérez-Sobrino, P. (2016). “Shockvertising”: Conceptual interaction patterns as constraints on advertising creativity. Círculo de Lingüística Aplicada a La Comunicación, 65(0), 257– 290. https://doi.org/10.5209/rev_CLAC.2016.v65.51988
Pérez-Sobrino, P., Littlemore, J., & Ford, S. (2021). Unpacking Creativity: The Power of Figurative Communication in Advertising. Cambridge University Press.
Shakespeare, S. (2020). Changing consumer landscape: Sports, dieting and exercise. YouGov. URL.
Wells, A., & Ford, S. (2020). Understanding and reacting to changing consumer behaviour for health and fitness brands (p. 18) [Insight]. Big Cat Agency. https://www.samanthaford.com/blog/health-and-fitness-insight-white-paper-2-published-with-big-catagency
Ford, S. (2022). Taking responsibility: The power of figurative communication in sports advertising and its role in tackling social issues of equality and mental health. Forum for Global Challenges, University of Birmingham, UK, 3rd-5th May 2022. Oral presentation.
What drives emotion and physiological arousal in adverts? The critical role of figurative operations
Houghton, D., Littlemore, J., Ford, S., Harfield, C. and Marder, B. (in press 2022). What drives emotion and physiological arousal in adverts? The critical role of figurative operations, In A. Athanasiadou and H. Colston, Figurativity and Human Ecology. Figurative Language and Thought Series, Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
The inclusion of figurative operations in marketing videos has the potential to improve the effectiveness of marketing campaigns due to their reported ability to trigger emotional responses, thus making the campaigns resonate more strongly with the viewer. This study explored the relationship between the presence of three figurative operations (hyperbole, metaphor and metonymy) in campaign videos and the levels of physiological arousal and emotion that were triggered by those videos. Seven videos were coded for these three embedded figurative operations. Participants watched the videos in laboratory conditions, where their levels of electrodermal activity and self-report emotional responses were recorded. The ability of these figurative operations to trigger physiological arousal was compared to that of two other features that have been shown to promote arousal (the presence of humour and unmarked contrast). The presence of hyperbole led to higher levels of arousal than humour and unmarked contrast, the presence of metaphor led to higher levels of arousal than humour, and the presence of metonymy led to higher levels of arousal than humour, but lower levels than unmarked contrast. Associations between these arousal levels and the reported emotions are discussed, and collectively provide insights into the optimal use of figurative operations in marketing campaign videos. Our findings contribute to a deeper theoretical understanding of the relationship between figurative operations and arousal, and provide practitioners with information regarding which figurative operations are likely to evoke a stronger emotional response when used in marketing videos.
As a part of my teaching in 2022, I undertook multiple modules in the Introduction to Teaching and Learning course to inform, improve, and reflect upon my own teaching practice. Completing a total of 5 modules of this course awards the HEFi Horzion Award.
The modules I have completed are:
ITL001 - Introduction to Teaching and Learning
ITL003 - Small Group Teaching (Seminars)
ITL004 - Principals of Assessment and Feedback
ITL006 - Inclusive Teaching*
ITL009 - Teaching International Students (in progress)
*As a part of ITL006, I was awarded a badge to certify my commitment to the University of Birmingham Inclusive Educator initiative. It confirms that the badge holder has reflected on the definition and qualities of the UoB Inclusive Educator. They have identified and reflected on an example of their current inclusive practice.
Exploring the impact of figurative communication and advertising: Reflections on a collaboration between linguistics researchers and a Midlands-based marketing agency
Ford, S. & Littlemore, J. (2022, in print). Exploring the impact of figurative communication and advertising: Reflections on a collaboration between linguistics researchers and a Midlands-based marketing agency. In Communicating Linguistics: Language, Community and Public Engagement. Routledge.
Preprint open access via ResearchGate.
In this chapter, we talk about our collaboration with Big Cat Agency, a marketing agency based in Birmingham, UK, which we set up to explore the impact and effectiveness of figurative language in advertising. We discuss some of the benefits, opportunities, and challenges we have faced during this collaborative partnership. We include a case study of our work with Big Cat in which we helped them to maximise the effectiveness of figurative double-entendres in a sexual health campaign that they developed for Umbrella Health, a UK National Health Service (NHS) Trust that runs sexual health clinics across Birmingham and Solihull in the UK, and distributes kits which test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). We use this case study to illustrate some of the outcomes that can be achieved through collaborative partnership with an advertising agency and a healthcare client. The reflections on our experiences may of interest to linguists who are considering working collaboratively with non-linguistic partner organisations or creative practitioners.
On 17th December I passed an exam in PRINCE2® Project Management Foundation Level, run by People Cert, and funded by Midlands4Cities Arts and Humanities Research Council.
The PRINCE2® Foundation Certification is suitable for individuals who want to demonstrate they have sufficient understanding of the PRINCE2® methodology and can work effectively as part of a team or with a project management team within a PRINCE2® supporting environment. See my certification below.
The course included 15 hours of online learning, 3 days virtual course with a PRINCE2® Representative, and a PRINCE2® Method workbook and textbook, all of which were completed and revised by the candidate.
This training will support me during the remainder of my PhD and in my future career - be that academia or as a linguistic consultant.
Here's an article I wrote recently with Paula P Sobrino and Jeannette Littlemore on the power of negative advertising that subverts the typical use of figurative communication as positive persuasive devices. The article was published by Cambridge University Press.