Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business (Research)


School of Business

First Advisor

Mr. Michael Walsh

Second Advisor

Dr. John Murphy


This study investigates the influences of postmodernism in advertising. The postmodern culture is characterised by irony, paradox, playfulness and anarchy. Consequently advertisements that are influenced by postmodernism embrace the unusual, the unconventional, the abstract and the ambiguous. This thesis set out to determine if there is a consensus among advertisers as to the meaning of postmodernism, to identify the reasons for the evolution of postmodern advertising and to assess its effectiveness and future potential.

Indications of the impact of postmodern advertising can be derived through qualitative methods, but quantitative methods can also be employed. Primary research was undertaken in the form of interviews and questionnaires. Twelve experts were interviewed and their ideas on postmodernism were explored and investigated. 150 questionnaires were sent to advertising practitioners and academics throughout the country, and advertisements of various companies were observed.

The research concludes that there exists no one definition of postmodernism and consequently postmodern advertising. However, there is a recognition of a definite move towards the more unusual in advertising, where indirect, unconventional, unusual and ironic means are used to transmit a message.

This form of advertising is more appropriate when targeting professionals and young people and is more suited to luxury products, cosmetics, fashion and cigarettes. Postmodern advertising is also more suited to strongly branded products where building or sustaining a brand image is vital.

The reasons why postmodern advertising evolved are many, and include the absence of a single, dominant fashion trend and the need for a Unique Selling Personality.

The effectiveness of postmodern advertising can be measured using qualitative methods, but its true effectiveness has yet to be determined.

The future of postmodern advertising is uncertain. The internet and digital television is likely to affect its use, but they will not usurp the role of traditional media provided that the advertisements continue to entertain, challenge, amuse and embrace the postmodern characteristics where appropriate.

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