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MA Advertising student recognised for Final Major Project by global creative consultancy, Genius Steals

A collage of swans, flowers and blue skies.
A collage of swans, flowers and blue skies.
Emma's event concept featuring Augmented Reality swans. Image credit: Emma Lynch.
Written by
Chloe Murphy
Published date
17 July 2020

Emma Lynch was commended for her work which explores the ways in which immersive theatre principles can be used to improve experiential advertising.

The MA Advertising course at London College of Communication (LCC) runs its Final Major Project (FMP) with Genius Steals, a creative consultancy which explores areas including branding, strategy and the broader advertising industry.

Each year, the Genius Steals team Skype-in from wherever they are in the world to present a series of topics based around some of the key challenges reported by their clients. With the support of course supervisors, students are then tasked with developing a relevant research project in response to a particular topic or issue.

The best FMP is selected by the Genius Steals founders, Faris and Rosie Yakob, with the winner awarded a prize which includes the chance to guest-curate their newsletter for an audience of over 11,000 senior advertising professionals across the globe.

Faris and Rosie selected Emma Lynch as their winner for 2019 in recognition of her highly original, creative approach to the project: a website for a prototype research company, Immerse 101, which connects the worlds of advertising and immersive theatre.

Alongside exploration of mission statements, industry understanding, company analysis and research methods, Emma used the website to showcase a number of suggested immersive concepts for major brands including:

Emma attends a 1920s-style immersive theatre experience.
As part of the research stage of her FMP, Emma attended a number of immersive theatre experiences. Image credit: RIFT Theatre

“It looked towards the future and how communication may develop alongside new technologies”

We chatted to Emma about the inspiration behind her work, her passion for immersive experiences, and the highlights of her time at LCC.

How did you first become interested in the world of advertising?

My undergraduate degree was in set and costume design for stage, and I worked as a designer on fringe theatre shows for 4 years. However, I found that my creative practice was stagnating and I wasn’t getting much personal satisfaction, so I thought that doing a Master’s would help me to re-engage and to develop my work further.

I knew that I wanted to study a subject where creative problem-solving and innovative thinking were at the forefront of the work as these were two skills that I felt were not being pushed by my work as a theatre designer. Theatre is all about communicating an idea to an audience, and I knew that I wanted to learn more about the dialogue between the work you create and the people receiving it, especially if it meant reaching more people.

I also wanted to do my Master’s at a leading and globally recognised university which automatically put UAL on the list of potential places to apply for. I looked in detail at loads of the MA courses on offer at UAL, but LCC's MA Advertising really stood out for me as it offered everything that I wanted to learn about. It looked towards the future and how communication may develop alongside new technologies.

How did you get involved with the Genius Steals Prize?

Everything was arranged by our tutor, Dr Paul Caplan. I believe that he reached out to Genius Steals because they’re incredibly cutting-edge with their thinking and in the ways that they engage with brands.

Responding to current industry problems was great as it meant that everyone’s projects became finding solutions to issues that companies need to solve now, so our completed work could put us in a really good place professionally after graduation.

A screenshot of the 'Definition' page from Emma's website.
Definition, Immerse 101. Image credit: Emma Lynch.

“A great way to build industry connections”

What inspired your Final Major Project, and what was your creative process?

For my Final Major Project, I looked at what the oversaturated experience economy could learn from immersive theatre. Dr Caplan recommended that we use our undergraduate knowledge and past experiences to enrich our research as we would have more knowledge to draw on. One thing I noticed during MA Advertising is that despite many brands creating experiences and events, there is very little overlap between the experience sector and immersive theatre even though they’re similar fields.

My creative process involved going to immersive theatre shows and hanging out with immersive theatre makers in theatre bars which was a lot of fun and didn’t really feel like work. A lot of this was about defining the immersive theatre principles so that they could be applied to creating a branded experience, which led to me creating several unrealised experiences and then analysing them. We were encouraged to present our work in a creative way and not as an essay, so I turned my project into an immersive experience for the reader by designing it as a research company called IMMERSE 101.

During the first term of the MA, we took a module called ‘Innovative Methods’, where we spent a lot of time learning how to conduct research in unusual ways to find insights. We learnt how to analyse our findings, and how these findings could relate to a product or service. This was a really important base for the Final Major Project as it made it a lot easier for me to figure out how to generate reliable data that was unique to my research.

Tell us about what happened after being chosen for the Genius Steals Prize.

After choosing my Final Major Project as the 2019 winner, the Genius Steals team posted ten books from their recommended reading list to me, all of which share new ways of thinking and interpreting the world.

I also got to guest-edit the May 2020 edition of their newsletter, Genius Strands, where I was asked to choose three articles and write a short introduction to them. It was quite challenging as I had to read a wide variety of sources and be really on top of new articles that were coming out while creatively connecting them back to the communications sector.

It was a really great opportunity because a lot of readers emailed to ask about my Final Major Project so that they could read my research, which has been a great way to build industry connections.

A screenshot of the 'Projections' page from Emma's website.
Projections, Immerse 101. Image credit: Emma Lynch.

“Convey an idea concisely and with clarity”

What were the highlights of your time on the MA Advertising course?

My Final Major Project was particularly important as it’s enabled me to become a specialist in immersive experiences for brands, and I now have plans to pursue work in the experience sector. Exploring different ways of collecting qualitative data on the ‘Innovative Methods’ module provided me with alternative ways of finding and developing insights to inform my ideas and make my work stand out.

Aside from winning the Genius Steals Prize, I was also part of a creative team that got to present a strategy we’d developed for the learning platform AWLEARN at Advertising Week Europe. This was really scary as it was in front of industry professionals on a big stage, but it also was a great opportunity to showcase our work. It was really amazing that we got to go to Advertising Week Europe for free to attend any talks that we wanted and access them digitally afterwards - a really fun and exciting experience.

We also did a lot of pitching throughout the course, and learnt how to convey an idea both concisely and with clarity. This is really important if you want to be successful in the communications sector, and really is a must-have skill.

A collage of swans, flowers and blue skies.
Emma's event concept featuring Augmented Reality swans. Image credit: Emma Lynch.

A testament to our focus on the industry and its future”

Dr Paul Caplan, Course Leader for MA Advertising, highlighted the significance of LCC’s partnership with a major creative consultancy like Genius Steals.

“The fact that a famous global business like Genius Steals chose to partner with MA Advertising is testament to our focus on the industry and its future. The fact that they wanted to read our students’ work and then offer a prize is testament to the innovative nature and quality of the final projects that our students produce.

As Rosie Yakob, one of the founders, urged Genius Steals’ clients: ‘Ask Emma to share her paper on immersive experiences. It’s impressive, and you’re guaranteed to learn something new.’”

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