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Carl W. Jones

MPhil work

Transforming Advertising

American writer Susan Sontang stated in a 1970 paper that posters in Cuba 'advertise culture in a society that seeks not to treat culture as an ensemble of commodities' (206). Her observation on how advertising can exist in a non-capitalist economy sets the framework for asking the questions: Can advertising as a practice be removed from its merger with capitalism? Is advertising propaganda, or is propaganda advertising?

This research sets out to redefine the concept of advertising by divorcing it from a specific ideology. Transforming it from a capitalist tool used to persuade consumers, into one that can be appropriated to design for the human good. This research intends to provide evidence that the theories and methods of advertising can be re-defined and re-deployed to benefit society.

Advertising within a capitalist system communicates a relativistic truth through persuasion, a brand's own version of the truth, a branded myth, rather than an objective truth. How does advertising create a truth? This thesis sets out to argue that the principals of advertising can be extracted from its capitalist context, and used effectively in more socially appropriate contexts. What are the tools and methods used to persuade? Can advertising tools and techniques be used to communicate messages without having a commercial agenda? 

The analysis draws on research from communication theory, cultural studies, advertising theory, graphic design theory, and recent social design theories.  Revealing that advertising informs and influences other visual and oral practices. If graphic design and advertising are considered communication, is what separates them called persuasion?

‘Research through art’ is applied to a visual communication campaign broadcast within the nation state of Mexico. The campaign will be designed based on the results uncovered by the literary research including ‘advertising re-defined,’ and advertising ‘tools and techniques.’  The ‘advertising message creation’ applies social design methods such as open ‘co-design process’ and ‘expert design.’ This investigation into exploring various design methods of encoding 2D media helps us understand how the essence of advertising can be used as a positive construct, without being influenced by an 'ism' such as capitalism, communism, or socialism.

The conclusion proposes that ‘advertising redefined’ can achieve responsible and independent visual communication. It is intended that this research by practice project will demonstrate that in a post truth world ‘advertising tools and techniques’ can be used for the human good.


  • Carl W. Jones
  • MPhil


    School of Communication


    Visual Communication, 2016–

  • Carl W. Jones is a bilingual, multicultural 'tradigital' communications professional, and a research student at the Royal College of Art. His content creation for clients has generated millions of dollars in earned media. From 1995–2010 he was the most awarded Art Director in the Mexican advertising industry, and in 2012 Carl was selected as one of the Top 20 Canadian Creative Directors by Strategy Magazine. In total, he has won over 500 awards and recognitions.

    At the Royal College of Art, Jones’s MPhil/PhD research on 'Transitioning Advertising' sets out to redefine the concept of advertising by divorcing it from a specific ideology: transforming it from a capitalist tool used to persuade consumers, into one that can be appropriated to design for the human good. This research intends to provide evidence that the theories and methods of advertising can be re-defined and re-deployed to benefit society.

    Carl currently teaches PR & Advertising BA Honors at the University of Westminster in London (UOW), and is a research member at UOW’s Centre For Research And Education in Arts and Media ‘CREAM’, one of the UK's leading centres for research in visual and media arts, design and music.

    In 2014 Jones contributed to the book Hacker, Maker, Teacher, Thief: Advertising's Next Generation, published by Creative Social, and presented and published a marketing paper on the Mr. Clean Brand at the 12th World Congress of Semiotics 2015, and on Racism & Classism in Mexican Advertising at the Semiosis in Communication world conference in Bucharest 2016. He is recognised globally as an authority on advertising, being invited to give seminars in 10 countries such as Clio’s Asia, Circulo Creativo Mexico City, Marketing Magazine Toronto, and recently at Syracuse University USA, and Edgehill University UK.

  • Degrees

  • MA Communication & Culture, Ryerson University & York University (ioint degree), Toronto, Canada, 2016; BDes Advertising & Design, Ontario College of Art and Design University, Toronto, Canada, 2012
  • Experience

  • Senior lecturer, PR & Advertising BA, School of Media, Art & Design, University of Westminster, London, 2015–present.; Assistant professor, OCAD University, Faculty of Design, Advertising Program, Toronto, Canada, 2012–15.; Vice President Executive General Creative Director, Grey Canada, Toronto, 2009–11; Vice President General Creative Director, Y&R Mexico, Mexico City, 2006–09; Senior Vice President Creative Director, BBDO Mexico, Mexico City, 1995–2005
  • Exhibitions

  • 'Pirate Exhibition: Phase 1', Casa de la Cultura San Rafael, Mexico City, 2016; ' Imagines para ver-te' Racism in Mexico, Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico.Mexico City, 2016 (Group Show); 'El Crayolas Project 2005–2013', La Quinonera, Mexico, 2013; 'Ads for People: Selling Ethics in the Digital Age', OCADU Gallery, Toronto, 2013 (Group Show); Canada’s largest 3D wall mapping projection against Union Train Station, Nuit Blanche (Unofficial), Toronto, 2010 (Carl W. Jones); 'Best in American, Canadian, and Mexican Advertising', Museo Casa Jaime Sabinas, Mexico City, 2001 (Curated); 'Best in Mexican Advertising', Design Exchange DX. Toronto, 2000 (Curated and arranged show); Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, 'ADCC 50th Anniversary Show'. 50 year retrospective on best advertising in Canada. Selected work for McDonald's Adv, 1999 (Art Director); Poster ‘Vuelve a la vida’ placed in museum’s permanent collection, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, 1998 (Creative Director)
  • Awards

  • 1985–present. Over 500 awards and recognitions to date: Cannes, London International Advertising Festival LIAA, New York Festival NYF, Effies, Clio’s and One Show etc.; Nominee, Excellence in Teaching Award, OCAD University, 2015; Top 20 Canadian Creative Director, Strategy Magazine, 2012; Most awarded Art Director in Mexico, 1995–2012; Mexican Creative of the Year, Creativa Magazine, Mexico City, 2006; Judge, Cannes, CLIOs, NYF, London LIAA, and Effies, 1994–2016
  • Conferences

  • (2016) 'Racism and Classism in Mexican Advertising' at Semiosis in Communication, Bucharest, Romania; (2014) Chair of panel 'Advertising Theory: interception between practice and scholarship. 'Introducing Ad Theory'UAAC Annual Conference, Toronto; (2014) 'Advertising tools & techniques applied to the brand Mr. Clean.' SEMIO 12th World Congress on Semiotics, New Bulgarian University, Sofia
  • Publications

  • (2016) 'Advertising tools & techniques applied to the brand Mr. Clean.' Proceedings of 12th World Congress of Semiotics. Between Tradition and Innovation. Mouton De Gruyter.; (2014) 'Ads Send Out More Than the Client’s Message.' in Creative Social (eds) Hacker, Maker, Teacher, Thief: Advertising's Next Generation. London:, pp 121–128; (2013) Proyecto El Crayolas Project 2005–2013. US: