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Mr Dale’s MEST1 Section A Exemplar for 2013 ‘Embrace Life’ viral ad.


Media Institutions – How does the institution take an original and positive approach to road safety advertising?

Unlike previous and more traditional road safety adverts, Sussex Safer Roads Partnership have chosen to avoid shock tactics that emphasis the violence and brutality of road deaths with a positive narrative structure that suggests that simply wearing a seatbelt can protect the driver and family life. This is embodied in the slogan of the campaign, ‘Embrace Life,’ which has no explicit connection with road safety as such and suggests a positive ideological philosophy to life in general. In conjunction with this idea, the institution engages the audience with an idealised image of family life that is still preserved at the resolution and the narrative begins and ends in life-affirming equilibrium with the threat of tragic disequilibrium averted by the actions of the wife and daughter in forming a human seatbelt.

The institution creates a scenario where family values and the preservation of the nuclear family are the key ideological factors, reflected in the innocent and inclusive play acting of the whole family, which provides the opportunity to express the narrative with the more theatrical tradition of physical theatre to represent the dangers of not wearing a seatbelt. This rather idyllic picture of family life under threat is further communicated by the use of slow motion to capture the emotional reactions of the parents and child and the stirring effect of the non-diegetic classical music.


Media Forms – How does mise-en-scène contribute to the impact of the film?

 The mise-en-scene of this advert is rather unusual and unexpected for the genre, as it does not represent a dangerous, typical road but the safer, protective setting of the everyday family home, which creates positive memories and associations for members of the target audience, rather than seeking to create a tragic road crash scenario. Indeed, the entire mise-en-scene is used to depict an ordinary, well-furnished, middle-class home environment where the family can play-act road safety rather than experience a tragic, life-changing narrative resolution. This is embodied in the use of the table and glitter as key iconographic props to represent the shattering glass of a violent road crash, which are dramatically hurled across the room at the imagined moment of impact, only for the glitter to take on the positive connotations of celebration as the life of the father is preserved by his human seatbelt.

The parents are dressed in casual but stylish clothing, suggesting aspirational middle-class values and reflecting the warmth and security of a happy, relaxed home, but the naked feet of the father also suggests vulnerability at the lack of basic protection as he becomes involved in an imaginary accident. It is at this moment that the dress code for the daughter becomes more significant. Initially, her playful wearing of fairy wings seems typical of a gender stereotype and the denotes the innocent fantasy of a young child’s pleasure in fairtytales and dressing up, but, as she takes action to protect her father, this has connotations with the guardian angel/fairy godmother stereotype in an inversion of the traditional family roles.


Media Representations – How is family represented in the film?

 In many ways, the family in the advert are depicted as a stereotypical, aspirational, white, middle-class characters. The family lives in a typical, modern, well-furnished suburban home and they parents are played by young actors who depict fashionable, relaxed, confident and reasonably affluent characters, with the father as the centre of the activity and implied threat, in accordance with patriarchal values. In many ways, this is a rather clichéd depiction of the dominant ideology of the ideal nuclear family. The characters are portrayed by anonymous character actors who convey a sense of authentic, ordinary, everyday family life and, while they are attractive, neither parent is depicted as glamorous or extraordinary in any way, reflecting the nature and composition of the intended target audience.

The parents are depicted as caring and gentle, and obviously value the family time playing with their young daughter, who, in turn, is respectful and appreciative of her parents. The close emotional bonds between the characters are established by the shared family play time and the happy smiling faces and knowing looks between all three characters, with the mother and daughter perhaps rather indulging the father showing off his play-acting skills, which parallel his driving skills as the head of the household. This emotional closeness is emphasised by the use of close-ups to capture the facial expressions of concern and body language in response to the impending accident, with the scared helplessness of the father contrasted with the expressions of horror the determination on the faces of his wife and daughter. There is some inversion in the traditional family roles as the wife and daughter take affirmative action to protect the father, with close-ups on the significant linking of their hands as they form a human seatbelt and he is able to fall back, quite literally, into the loving arms of his smiling, relieved family as tragedy is averted.


 Media Audiences – Why does the film appeal to such a wide audience?

 The film appeals to a wide audience on several levels. Firstly, the very nature of the viral advert platform means that audiences can share it on social media sites, primarily Twitter and Facebook, so that they can pass on their comments and discuss opinions in social interactions, as well as taking pleasure in a shared sense of discovery as they can promote a film that is not available in the mainstream media of TV advertising and does not follow the usual genre conventions of shocking content and negative resolution.

The film is also very playful and innovative in the techniques used to convey the road safety message and will not alienate an overly sensitive younger or older audience, and has a sense of inclusivity reflected by the central role played by the daughter in regaining equilibrium and protecting her father. This appeal to a family audience is reinforced by the emotional aspects of the content, with fears and feelings that can be shared by any member of the target audience, linked to personal experiences of safety issues that affect and resonate with everyone viewing the film.

The film employs a very simple, easily understood visual metaphor to represent the threat to family happiness and the universal message is conveyed in a brief running time without any distracting dialogue or ambiguity, with the emotive music playing an immediately engaging and key narrative role, affirming the importance of the nuclear family as a close, loving unit in which each member plays an essential role. It is a simple, emotive idea that will engage the empathy of most of the target audience in an immediate and accessible manner.



MEST1 Previous Exam Papers, Source Texts, Marks Schemes and Examiners’ Reports

January 2009


June 2009


MEST1 June 2009 Mark Scheme

MEST1 June 2009 Examiners Report

January 2010


MEST1 Jan 2010 Mark Scheme

MEST1 Jan 2010 Examiners Report

June 2010




January 2011




June 2011




January 2012





June 2012




January 2013




June 2013


AQA-MEST1-W-MS-Jun13 (1)




MEST 1 Examination AQA ‘B’ Grade exemplars and Section B exemplars

B Grade Response 1

B Grade Response 2

Section B – good answers 2010


MEST1 Examination (Thursday 22nd May) Section B Essay – Key Concepts, Theories, Debates



Overall Assessment Objectives for MEST1 Section B


  • knowledge and understanding of the question
  • use of a range of examples from all three platforms
  • clear and appropriate communication with use of media terminology
  • understanding of media issues/theories/debates



Make links across all three platforms – moving image, print and e-media


Include different examples from each platform and each film


Impact of digital media – interactive audiences as media producers


How awareness of institutions adapting to new technology and communicating with audiences, but still using traditional marketing media


Media Language (denotative/connotative meanings) – includes key images, designs, logos, symbols used across all three platforms.


Representations – challenging countertypes or re-enforcing stereotypes?Implicit Personality Theory, Mulvey/feminist or gender perspective?


Narrative – how is film narrative conveyed by the productions? Enigma/action codes. Equilibrium/disequilibrium/ narrative complications? Is it typical of the genre?


Identify any inter-textuality across platforms and with other genre texts


What are the key genre codes and conventions of the films being marketed?


Production values?


What is the nature of the nstitutional sources- mainstream or independent?


What are the audience gratifications (U & G)?


Is there potential for greater audience interaction – challenges and puzzles, enigma codes?


Can you apply the hypodermic syringe theory – direct unmediated message?


Two step flow – opinion leaders (critics and any UGC from audiences)?


Are there any possible preferred, negotiated, oppositional readings? Could be expressed via Twitter Facebook, YouTube, texts, e-mails or any other social media.




MEST1 Examination (Thursday 22nd May) Section A Questions 1-4 Key Reminders

Overall Assessment Objectives


  • knowledge and understanding of relevant media concepts
  • references to the product
  • use of formal media terminology

Media Forms – Media Language

  • camera shots and angles/positioning
  • framing and composition
  • mise-en-scene
  • use of colour
  • low key/high key lighting and sources
  • focus/depth of field
  • visual effects/special effects/CGI
  • diegetic/non-diegetic sound (including music, dialogue, sound effects and narration)
  • denotative, connotative meanings and associations
  • Cross-reference with Genre and/or Narrative



Media Forms – Genre


  • iconographic codes and conventions
  • sole or cross-genre?
  • stock characters
  • recognisable classic narrative structure?
  • conform/challenge/develop conventions
  • comparison with similar texts of this genre
  • Cross-reference with Media Language (incl mise-en-scene) and/or Narrative




Media Forms – Narrative


  • conventional/unconventional events?
  • audience positioning/understanding
  • literal/figurative/ironic?
  • editing – continuity/montage
  • equlibrium/disequilibrium – conflict/binary oppositions
  • implied/explicit narrative events
  • anticipation of continued plot (enigma/action codes)
  • Cross-reference with Media Language (incl mise-en-scene) and/or Genre



Media Representations


  • people and/or places
  • recognisable stereotypes/countertypes
  • age/race/religion/gender/class/profession/sexual orientation
  • positive/negative connotations
  • reflection of ideological values/concerns in construction
  • mediation and construction – realistic?
  • implicit personality theory?
  • Cross-reference Media Language (incl mise-en-scene), Genre, Narrative, Institutions, Audiences and/or Ideological Values




Media Institutions


  • what brand image is conveyed about the institution that has produced the text? Use the text!
  • Implied ideological values
  • mainstream or independent?
  • high production values (post-production/special effects)?
  • conventional/unconventional media text (genre/stereotyping)
  • traditional/conservative or challenging and innovative
  • appeal of institution to target audience
  • Cross reference with Media Language (incl mise-en-scene), Genre, Narrative, Representations, Audiences and/or Ideological Values




Media Audiences


  • key features that will appeal to the target audience
  • major assumptions made by producers regarding target audience
  • audience positioning and values
  • how is the text open to negotiated or oppositional readings?
  • identification of possible target audience – use the text!
  • audience interaction and cross-platform appeal (digital media)
  • what are the primary Uses and Gratifications?
  • Cross reference with Media Language (incl mise-en-scene), Genre, Narrative, Representations, Institutions and/or Ideological Values




A2 Media Revision Resources for the MEST3 exam on Tuesday

The following useful resources were created and shared by Kate McCabe –

Key Media Concepts and Theories

Key Media Concepts and Theories

Media Institutions

Media Institutions

New and Digital Media

Media Technology and the Digital Revolution

The following videos were created and shared by Cheney Media –

Section A key reminders

Section B key reminders

MEST1 – Final Key Reminders for tomorrow’s examination

Section A (unseen text)

When you get to your exam you will have 3 viewings of the product for Section A – observe in the first viewing, then 4 minutes to make notes, then 2 further viewings, during which you can and should make as many notes as possible – remember in shorthand, not full sentences, these are prompts for you and are not marked by the examiner.

Discipline in timing is paramount, so ensure that you have a watch on your desk (borrow one if you must) and keep to a strict schedule.

The exam is 2 hours long, with 15 minutes viewing time included, so you have an hour to answer the 4 section A questions, which are all compulsory and have equal weighting of 12 marks, so you must stick to 15 minutes per question.

For Section A, remember that you can refer to other media concepts during every question, but focus on answering the specific question and do not repeat the same points in another answer. It is likely that the media forms question will be about how media language engages the audience, but it might be about genre or narrative.

The questions might be in any order, but will focus on forms, representations, institutions and audiences.

Audiences and their responses are most important in analysing the appeal of any media product, so try to include references to audiences in every question.

Remember to focus on answering each question and use the blurb that precedes the questions on Section A to give you helpful hints and ideas – read it thoroughly and annotate/highlight/underline any useful ideas. All responses must refer to specific examples in the text – do not go into detail about anything other than what you have just seen.

Section B (cross-media study)

You are required to answer only one question for Section B, and this must be done in 45 minutes. Please ensure that you complete a rough plan before commencing writing – what texts you will use to address the question, their links, media concepts, audiences and institutions, and any theories/wider issues. Spend 5 minutes planning, or even 10 if you must, but do not fail to do this or you will not be able to keep a track of what you have included (tick it off as you go if you want) and your response will lack structure.

Remember to use specific examples from your case-study to support each point raised, included at least one example from each platform and include key words from the question in each point, to ensure that you focus on the question. Don’t panic and write about everything you know in your case study – focus on answering the specific question!

Remember – in one form or another the Section B questions (you answer just one from a choice of two) will be all about how audiences consume media and how media institutions target their audiences as consumers.

Look for opportunities to use uses and gratifications and two-step-flow theories in particular in answering Section B.


Sections A and B

For both Sections, use formal media terminology (no second person ‘you’ or slang terms) and write about how the texts have been constructed – avoid simply describing the content.

Look at reasons for selection and construction for audience appeal/engagement and consider any connotative meanings/associations for the audience.

Above all, don’t panic, and remember to keep all points linked to specific textual examples in all your answers and take sufficient time to craft clear, controlled sentences that express your ideas effectively.


Good luck to you all!