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GDF Project: Target Audience

November 27, 2009

Meet Alan and Janet, my target audience guinea pigs. Not a great deal of science involved here – they’re based upon my preconceptions of the “recently retired professional”. My parents are both recently retired, so I have the benefit of a bit of insider knowledge from them, but the exercise is more about emptying these pre-conceptions out of my head, and making room for some new ones based upon my research. Also to do something visual. The bulk of my work at the beginning of this project has been in the form of lists and notes, so this is a way of converting some of those ideas into visual symbols. For example, Janet’s divorce is represented by a pair of broken wedding rings, and the fact that Alan’s wife buys his clothes is represented by a pair of Y-fronts. Hmm.I’ve also been doing some research into Visual Communication theory, to better understand how to communicate effectively with my audience, and what sort of things might get in the way of that communication. Jonathan Baldwin and Lucienne Roberts’ book Visual Communication: From Theory to Practice is an accessible introduction to this area, with the inclusion of references to a range of theories by others in the field. According to the VALS system, my target audience of Recently Retired Professionals are “Actualisers”:

This modified version of Shannon and Weaver’s process model of communication suggests how a messages can be conveyed from client to target audience, via a team of Media Planners, Market Researchers, and Designers. However well conceived or constructed, the intermediary stages of Noise Source and Media Outlet have the potential to distort the message before it reaches the audience. For example, in the weeks following the 9/11, airlines withdrew advertising to avoid the risk of association with the terrorist attacks (a noise source). Just as an airline offering a premium business class service would be unlikely to advertise in the sports pages of the Sun – in this case the media outlet is inappropriate (does not reach the target audience) and would potentially harm public perception of the brand.
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