Semester

Spring

Date of Graduation

2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Type

MS

College

Reed College of Media

Department

Reed College of Media

Committtee Chair

Steve Urbanski

Committee Co-Chair

James Ebel

Committee Member

Jensen Moore

Committee Member

Tom Stewart

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the differences in symbolic content of Super Bowl commercials during recession and non-recession years. Another aim was to find out if humorous commercials were more common in recession year commercials as opposed to non-recession year commercials. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were applied. The study examined the topic through both content analysis and semiotic analysis. For the content analysis, commercials were viewed and coded to address the question of whether commercials change based on economic conditions. For the semiotic analysis, one commercial from each of the four selected years was chosen to be analyzed. The principle conclusion was that although the results are not significant, the findings are indeed significant. . It found that neither tone, product references, symbols, celebrity inclusion, or product type were affected by the economic climate. This indicates that the ads agencies are not adjusting sales strategies based on the economy.

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