An exploration of creative managers' perspectives on digital creativity: the impact of viral campaigns on creative processes, appeals and creative teams in UK advertising agencies

Raghubansie, Antonius D. (2016) An exploration of creative managers' perspectives on digital creativity: the impact of viral campaigns on creative processes, appeals and creative teams in UK advertising agencies. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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This research aims to develop conceptual insight into the practice and impact of a specific digital phenomenon

– “viral marketing” – on marketing communications agencies. Specifically, it explores the UK, one of the most important hubs in global advertising looking at agenciesr campaign design planning, the roles of creative teams and the management processes through three research objectives:

- To explicate, classify and explore the changes in advertising campaign planning processes and roles which digital phenomena such as virals have introduced

- To capture and codify the working models which creative managers employ and the messaging strategies considered and implemented in viral campaigns

- To develop theoretical models for understanding virals, agency campaign management, creative roles and develop extant frameworks

Prior Work:

Research into virals has grown rapidly over the last ten years but it is dominated by computing studies of online diffusion. The creative perspective has received little attention. Those studies which do address this viewpoint are principally focussed on the final advert. The voice of the producers of such campaigns – creative managers – is largely absent from the literature with a single study of campaign measurement. The roles of core teams/functions within the agencies, the criteria for viral creative concept evaluation, the campaign processes and working models are experiencing unprecedented change. Viral campaigns offer a bridge between the “old” and “new” worlds; it possesses the characteristics of TV and the Web. It is important because such viral campaigns have challenged the established models of advertising management and planning.


The study undertakes the first comprehensive evaluation of the exisiting research into viral marketing, locating gaps in the creative design and management. Qualitative methodology through semi-structured in-depth interviews with creative managers in a range of UK advertising agencies is used to represent their views and responses to viral phenomena as they conceived, designed and reflected on campaigns.

Contribution to Knowledge:

This is the first study of the pre-launch/pre-production phase of campaign development. It has clarified a plethora of terms, in so doing developing the SPEED framework to understand the biological metaphor underpinning the phenomena, and finally producing a more accurate and comprehensive definition of the phenomenon.
The paradigm funnel evaluation of prior research has tested and extended formal tools to arrive at a state of the art. The current research primarily consists of studies utilising secondary datasets, mainly quantitative – this study explores questions not just of what but of why, producing deeper insight than available before.

Theoretical contributions:

In the final model of viral creative management and design is an overarching conceptual contribution which for the first time represents creative roles, agency management and creative considerations at both pre and post-launch campaign phases. The thesis also develops theoretical constructs in specific areas – definition from practitioners, construct of campaign zones in viral design, a model of critical factors which facilitate virals, comparative theory of conventional and viral campaigns, characteristics of viral agencies, model of digital brand/agency relationships, a role construct for digital creatives among the main theoretical developments. These led into the final theoretical model.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: I would like to say thanks for the support of my Director of Studies, Dr. Chris Lewis who has stayed with me despite many changes in circumstances and difficult situations. I have been a distraction to his music lessons. To my Supervisor, Professor Hatem El-Gohary, you have always pushed me to a higher level. To my colleagues and now friends who have been there personally but also as professional critics, sounding boards and metholdological journeymen, on a continuum of calmness in the case of Christian, the passion of Nigel, to the other end with Jon who gave detailed, valuable and pedantic criticism: Dr. Christian Schnee, Dr. Jon Ivy, Dr. Nigel Walton. Dedication: This thesis is dedicated to my mother, Rattie Raghubansie. She has forever been a lighthouse in rough seas, as a single parent with three boys in tough circumstances. My wife, Chandrani who has been intelligent, loving and supportive all the time. And my boys, Devinda who was born into this study (and felt the loss of time) and Nadal whose first consistent sentence was, “Don’t do your work”. My in-laws, Karu and Rathna for their love and support for us and the boys, giving me space to study. To my brother, Rodney, my relatives and friends, my heartfelt thanks. In memory of Chris.
27 October 2016Completed
Uncontrolled Keywords: Digital creativity; virals; viral marketing; viral advertising; creative teams; creative management; creative process; digital creative; digital business model
Subjects: CAH17 - business and management > CAH17-01 - business and management > CAH17-01-02 - business studies
CAH17 - business and management > CAH17-01 - business and management > CAH17-01-03 - marketing
CAH24 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01-02 - publicity studies
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Kip Darling
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2019 13:09
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 16:15

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