Domino effect of positive changes...

This qualitative essay uses Taylor’s six segment strategy wheel to analyze branded content that advertises the benefits of a community to reach your goals and change the future.

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“Building the Future” is a piece of branded content produced by GitHub, a programming resource platform used for code sharing and collaboration (GitHub, 2018). The video was released in 2018 as part of a campaign with the same title that the company launched to highlight the open-source community and how one contribution can have a domino effect of positive changes (Slow Clap, 2019). This message coincides with the motive that quo PEOPLE, as an opinion researcher, wants to pass on to its panelists. In order to understand how the message was conveyed, Taylor’s message strategy wheel (1999) is employed to deconstruct the content and identify the underlying creative strategies. The analysis does not consider external factors, since the storyline is detached from a specific moment in time, political issues, or trend, but paints a picture of an inclusive world enjoying the freedom of digitization by highlighting a diverse cast and various work environments. However, is the value of a community best advertised by emphasizing the logical benefits?


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Slow Clap Agency
Building the Future
2:05 minutes


Introducing his wheel, Taylor (1999) provided a detailed tool to understand the ever-evolving creative message strategies used in advertising comprehensively by defining two approaches with three segments each:

First, on the macro level (on the left in the Figure 1) is the transmission view, including all informative messaging directed to cognition or logic (Golan & Zaidner, 2008). The “head” side of the model is further divided into the subcategory „ration“, addressing the consumer’s need for information by using education and persuasion based solely on logical reasoning. “Acute need” refers to customers who need immediate answers or solutions, considering the level of awareness and familiarity with the brand. The third dimension in the transmission half is “routine” and describes an advertising approach that emphasizes a product as part of consumption habits by communicating reasons why the product represents a real solution or adds value through repeated purchase. The order of nomination marks the decrease of importance within that half of the model (Jenkins, 2018).

Figure 1 Taylor's six-segment message strategy wheel. Own representation based on Taylor (1999)

In support of the transmission perspective, all emotional approaches fall under the ritual view (Golan & Zaidner, 2008) completing the “heart-side” of the wheel. The most important dimension here is „Ego“ addressing primarily the individual’s need for respect or recognition through the consumption of a product, so a brand positions itself in a way that appeals to a person’s ideas about who they are or who they want to be. The “social” segment of Taylor’s models uses two or more people interacting to present the brand or product, directing the focus to a collective matter. The least important subcategory, “sensory”, includes all messaging strategies that directly appeal to consumers‘ senses of smell, touch, hearing, or taste often addressed by showcasing experiences (ibid).

What makes the wheel more holistic is the basic understanding that an advertiser’s strategy can use a single approach to convey its message or combining segments across the wheel. Though the combination of transmission and ritual view is not the most common, it might be the sweet spot for some and can be analyzed and explained all in one model (Lee et al., 2011).


The first frame of the video indicates a strategy approach on the heart-side of the wheel: A girl sits on the stairs in her home and observes her brother’s difficulty playing the piano, caused by his artificial hand (0:12). Thus, the advertiser’s intention is partly “ego” and “social”, and this combination proves to be a major motive as the plot progresses, when the girl is seen working on an idea to help her brother by programming an improved version of his prostheses (0:19). Others respond to their efforts online (0:31; 0:37, 0:43), but the resulting collaborations are not just based on a selfless desire to help the initiator succeed and thereby improve someone’s quality of life. The contributors also have individual projects in mind, which are shown alongside the co-coder throughout the video, demonstrating the benefits of their work in various industries around the globe (1:04; 1:09; 1:20). This presents the image of an eager, progressive, and supportive mindset with which other like-minded people can identify that is immediately transferred to the platform itself through its central role in each endeavor. At the same time, the focus is on collaborative progress through constant networking, showing GitHub as a provider of a supportive and thriving atmosphere to create successfully. Within the framework of Taylor’s wheel, this achieves a balance between the ego and social segments and supports the goal of promoting the community aspect without neglecting individual goals. Regardless of the motivation, the contributions help the girl solve her problems over the course of a few years (0:59; 1:33), which corresponds to the rational segment and a more logical reasoning by showing not only progress, but actual solutions. Even though GitHub merges these approaches to reach their target audience, the focus remains on the social component that also runs through the story in the form of the background music (Slow Clap, 2019). Matching the first scene, the recipient first hears a piano attempt, which develops into a professional melody and reaches its peak when audio and visual elements unite again in the last frame, showing the brother as a musician in concert with a perfectly functioning prosthesis and his sister in the audience – both now adults (1:44).


“The video gained over 250,000(+) views between its launch in September 2018 to the opening of the Universe conference on October 16, 2018. During that same time, GitHub gained nearly 40,000 new followers and had over 45,000 social engagements across all platforms” (Slow Clap, 2019). The success of the campaign is proof of its effective message strategy approach. GitHub managed to communicate a very individual and highly application-oriented task like programming as a team effort from which each contributor can derive their own successes. Emphasis is placed equally on the individual and on the interaction component that supports this story’s key takeaway—that constant collaboration in the community is an indispensable part of progress one’s own work. The question posed at the beginning can therefore be answered in the negative. The power and value of a community is best advertised by tying a contribution to individual interests through emotional narratives, rather than relying solely on cognitive persuasion techniques.

For quo PEOPLE, this means that messages concerning the community must be formulated in such a way that they appeal to the heart and not to the head. Logical and technical information is still important to understand the field of work. However, the importance of research, and thus the fact that you are heard as part of a collective rather than making a difference on your own, is a message that needs to be communicated emotionally.

It is also advisable to include the interests and problems of the panelists and not just overarching themes. Research is a rather abstract field and therefore difficult to access. Showing recipients their influence in areas that are important to them addresses the ego and creates a touchpoint. Adding a social component by providing a platform for growth and continuous improvement helps communicate a positive lifestyle that invites participation.


GitHub. (2018). Build software better, together. Retrieved February 20, 2022, from

Golan, G. J., & Zaidner, L. (2008). Creative Strategies in Viral Advertising: An Application of Taylor’s Six-Segment Message Strategy Wheel. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(4), 959–972.

Jenkins, R. D. (2018, March). How Are U.S. Startups Using Instagram? An Application of Taylor’s Six-Segment Message Strategy Wheel and Analysis of Image Features, Functions, and Appeals“. Brigham Young University.

Lee, T. D., Taylor, R. E., & Chung, W. (2011). Changes in Advertising Strategies During an Economic Crisis: An Application of Taylor’s Six-Segment Message Strategy Wheel. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 39(1), 75–91.

Slow Clap. (2019, August 30). Building the Future: GitHub. Retrieved February 20, 2022, from

Taylor, R. E. (1999). A Six-Segment Message Strategy Wheel. Journal of Advertising Research, 39(6), 7–17.