Do you remember writing a thesis and feeling slightly upset as you start to realise that no one will ever read it besides your professors, or at best, your parents? Students should receive the recognition they deserve for their hard work – other than just the grade at the end of the academic year. This was the vision of the European Institute for Commercial Communications Education (edcom) when they launched the edcom Thesis Competition. EACA’s Pauline de Pelsmacker takes a look at the winners.

The annual competition rewards the best Bachelor and Master theses on advertising or commercial communications and is open to students from edcom member schools across Europe.

Winners 2017-2018


In this category, the thesis of Caitlin Brands, student at Avans Hogeschool, Netherlands, stood out. Her thesis entitled: “Mobile interactivity meets the Out of Home industry ‘A mediating instrument to fill in the market gap’” aims to close the bridge between media agencies, advertisers and consumers.

The main question that arose in the beginning of the paper is: “how can an interactive scanning application be used as a mediating instrument to fill in the gap between these three key players on the Out-of-Home media industry?”. Caitlin explains how she carried out an exploratory and qualitative research in order to assess the current situation. The research was designed by using established models, such as the Business Model Canvas, the Value Proposition Canvas and Porter’s Five Forces.

The second part of her research consisted of exploratory interviews. The interviews were held by roaming the streets to gain as many insights on the needs of the target group as possible. The last step was to hold brainstorming sessions. Ideas that had been gathered and tested based on technical applicability, practical applicability, feasibility and suitability by conducting semi-structured interviews with experts in all relevant fields were presented to all key players.

The findings of the paper were:

  • Media agencies need to shift their focus from B2B to B2C and preferably from a consumer’s perspective.
  • End users need to be targeted very specifically in order to convince them to engage with a brand.
  • All three key players (media agencies, advertisers and consumers) share different interests and want to gain a personal advantage before committing to an interactive application: media agencies want to use the application as a tool to gather data they could not gather before, consumers want to get discounts or specific information on a brand, and advertisers want to increase brand engagement and customer loyalty.

Caitlin concludes that all those findings make the interactive scanning application (called ‘Capture’) a mediating instrument which generates real-time data when consumers use the application, including a loyalty program for consumers that increases brand engagement at the same time.

The judges commented that her research stood out to them because of the relevance of this topic and hypothesis in today’s industry. In addition, Caitlin had a good approach with a different touch point (CANVAS) and had smart recommendation for the “Capture” model.

On winning the competition, Caitlin commented: "After I graduated, I was very honoured to have been selected as a representative of my University of Applied Sciences to participate in the edcom Thesis Competition. As I got further in the process, I got more and more excited and I am very proud to receive recognition for my work on a European level. The most important insight I have gained from participating in this competition is to just believe in yourself and in your work on which you have worked so hard for such a long time!"

Her poster can be found here.


In the Master category, the thesis that impressed the judges the most was: “Hospitality living LAB- A communications device to control satisfaction with tourism and quality of life in the city”, by Patricia Oliveira, student at IADE University, Portugal.

The basic idea of Patricia’s thesis is that City Tourism has known some of the fastest growth in the world and its changing nature becomes increasingly apparent in many cities, including Lisbon. In her summary, Patricia states that access to information through mobile devices is constant and tourists seek to find and consume local experiences where interaction with residents becomes an important aspect. Although the impact of ICT (information and communication technologies) in the tourism industry as well as in the behaviour of tourists and travel experiences has been recognised, Patricia argues that the implication of this new type of urban tourism needs more attention from managers of cities.

The judges were very impressed with the level of her research, which she folded out in an interesting, practical and relevant way. Another aspect that grabbed the attention of the judges was that the insight of the research started from a very rational and objective need, namely the time management of tourists, even during short trips.

When Patricia received the good news, she commented: "I was delighted and grateful to have been selected as the representative of my University to participate in the edcom Thesis Competition. It was two years of effort, dedication and hard work on an idea in which I always believed in, and now to see this work recognised at a European level, makes me really proud and happy to have made the journey.”

Her poster can be found here.

The competition

Before students can register for the competition, they are selected by the edcom member university representative or their academic supervisor. This way, there is a guarantee that the submitted work meets the requirements and high standards of the Institute. A jury panel composed of highly experienced academics assesses and discusses each thesis. In total, there are three judging rounds, each focusing on a different aspect of the entries or set of criteria.

Why you should enter

If you’re a student, here are three reasons why you should consider registering for the competition:

1. Give it a shot – what do you have to lose?

Other than submitting an abstract in English, there is literally nothing left for you to do, so why not give it a try? Meanwhile, we’ll work hard on promoting your work to our international network, sharing constructive feedback from the jury and making sure your name looks good on that certificate you will receive at the end of the ride.

2. Spruce that CV

Here is the boring truth: your CV can always improve. Being a finalist of our competition means recognition on a European level, a step closer to the commercial communications working field and a chance to add value to your degree.

3. The prize

Don’t forget that you will be rewarded with a cash prize of €400 whilst your university will receive an €400 voucher to spend on EACA and edcom educational initiatives. Your poster will also be published on WARC’s website and you will receive a shiny certificate to recognise how great your thesis is!

Two simple conditions

There are just two things to keep in mind before you can enter the competition:

  1. You need to be a Bachelor or Master student or recent graduate at an edcom member school
  2. Your thesis should be relevant to the field of commercial communications (e.g. Marketing, PR, Advertising, Design and more).

To enter, please contact your edcom representative or send us a message at The 2018-2019 edition will be launched on 3 September 2018.