Monday, May 22, 2006

FAQ: WOMUnits, Topicality, and the WOMMA Terminology Framework

As students ask questions to me via e-mail that I think will be relevant to all students I will post the questions and my responses as part of the class blog. This will be a useful way to develop a public knowledge base and resource.

Here's a question I received about the WOMMA Terminology Framework and specifically the characteristic of Topicality.

In all the FAQ posts I will make the students' identity anonymous.
Dr. Carl,

As I'm working on our group's WOMM campaign paper, discussing the campaign in terms of the WOMMA terminology framework, I'm having trouble understanding the meaning of the word topicality (as it applies to WOMUnits). Quite frankly, I'm still not convinced that topicality (much like WOMUnit) is even a real word.

Could you please provide some clarification to the meaning of this word?? The definition in the WOMMA reading is unclear and the definitions don't do much to support it.

Thanks, XXXX
And here's my response:

While WOMUnit is clearly a "clunky" term (which refers to the message in a WOM episode), topicality is pretty straightforward once it's explained properly. Basically think about it as being a message that is "on topic." Of course, "on topic" is always in the context of a "desired" message relative to some person, group, or organization. So think about if there's a campaign where the marketer wants to get a message out about the health benefits of a product. If people end up talking about the health benefits then the WOMUnits, or messages, created by the Participants are "on topic" because they are consistent with the desired message the marketer wanted to get across originally.

What has high topicality to one group might have low topicality to another. Think about the Chevy Tahoe campaign we discussed in class. If people made videos about how cool the SUV was and all that it allowed people to do, those consumer generated videos would have high topicality from Chevy's perspective. However, many of the videos were "spoof" ads and talked about how the vehicles were anti-environment and gas-guzzlers. From Chevy's perspective the WOMUnits (the consumer generated videos) had low topicality, but from the creators' perspective that WOMUnit has high topicality because it's consistent with the message that person or group wants to get across.

I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any questions.

Dr. Carl

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