The result is a device that millennials use to be “honest” but still shield away from harsh judgments. It’s called ‘irony’. If everything is done partially serious, then, criticism only have to be taken partly seriously.

This website introduces the methodology adopted for the project. Based on observations, millennials today are drawn to mindless consumption of memes. A meme is essentially a combination of funny pictures mixed with relevant commentary. These commentaries can come in forms of satire, parody or irony.


Jesse Carey, editor at Relevant Magazine expressed that the fact that so many millennials are obsessed with irony isn’t a new observation. It’s been written about, critiqued, debated and even praised for years. The Internet has given millennials the ability to showcase their lives and this has enabled millennials to either present themselves online through the use of selfies, tweets, Snapchats and Facebook post or scrolling through the feed of other people’s lives.

“An era obsessed with irony.”

— Jesse Carey, RELEVANT Magazine

Millennials on one hand are constantly making judgment about others and what they post online but on the other, they constantly feel the pressure to make sure what they posts won’t be judged too harshly. So what they do is literally filter pictures so they look the way we are comfortable with the people that perceive them. And the same is done with the post and tweet they click.


His point corresponded with Christy Wampole, an assistant professor of French at Princeton University, who expressed in an article published on The New York Times that “the ironic frame functions as a shield against criticism”. It allows a person to dodge responsibility for their choices. The Internet, where ethos can be disseminated quickly and widely, had also helped proliferated this ironic sensibility.

“Irony is the ethos

of our age”

— Christy Wampole, for The New York Times

This suggest that the ironic approach can be an effective tool to entice millennials since millennials personally live in irony in one way or another. A study conducted by Lagerwerf (1702) showed that advertisements with ironic intent were appreciated more when the inappropriateness was re-interpreted correctly as irony.


The findings have helped to inform the design decision behind adopting the use of irony as a way to entice millennials while at the same time enabling the 26-year old shared values to be showcased in a different light.



Millennials are an ironic bunch.



case study


What exactly

is irony?

It is not possible to include all forms of irony into one definition (Lagerwerf 1705) as the expression of irony can sometimes be non-verbal. For the purpose of this project, a “layman's” term, as defined in dictionaries, is employed.

“A state of affairs or an event
that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects”


The 3 commons

types of irony

Dramatic irony

The reader sees a character faults or mistakes; the character himself does not.


Verbal Irony

The author states one thing, but means another, for instance when someone says to you “thanks a lot” but saying it in a mean or sarcastic way. That person is stating one thing but mean another.


Situational Irony

A situation that demonstrates a large difference between the reason for a particular action and the result.






Ironic Statements

There are two proposed models: Echoic Mention Theory, used in conjunction with the Relevance Theory. The other is named the standard pragmatic approach.

Lagerwerf explained that in Echoic Mention Theory, a receiver had promised to give a hand, but eventually did nothing to help. The interpretation of the sender’s utterance ‘Thanks for your help’, is referenced to that promise. Relevance Theory explicitly denies that deviant use of language which makes us look for better (more relevant) interpretations: relevance is achieved immediately, because as language users, we are looking for relevant utterances in the first place.


The other standard pragmatic approach takes deviant language use as the starting point for alternative interpretations. If the most notable meaning of an utterance is considered awkward in the context, the interpretation process should start all over again. In the renewed interpretation, the hearer may assume that humor, metaphor, or other not solely informative intentions are involved (Giora qtd. in Lagerwerf 1705). New meaning combinations may be derived, and this process of innovation may lead to a positive appreciation of the utterance (Giora et al. qtd. in Lagerwerf, 1705).


According to the study conducted by Lagerwerf (1702) with advertisements for commercial products and services, irony was found in the use of negative captions where positive captions were expected. An example of negative vs. positive caption, as outlined by Lagerwerf (1709): not bad (negative) vs. good (positive). In commercial advertising, not bad is inappropriate.

“... use of negative captions where positive captions were expected.”

Case Study

One popular brand amongst millennials that utilised the use of irony its in branding is AntiSocial Social club. The use of irony is evident in its self contradictory brand name. The street wear brand has since attained a cult-like following.


Its founder, Neek Lurk, revealed that “it was never to be a brand (as its) more like a life project.” Reflecting his personal emotions to the brand, citing an example of aesthetics choice of “Californian grunge and Korean influences”, the ironic consideration Neek confessed: “Last year there was a Korean girl I was talking to and we had this gnarly thing. So I made a bunch of stuff with Korean influences because of her. I hated her and made this stuff, so it’s like little hidden messages. I made a hat saying “suicide club” in Korean that people thought meant Anti Social Social Club.”

Case Study

In Steven Heller’s book, Design Literacy: Understanding Graphic Design, he wrote that Seymour Chwast self-published The Book of Battles, a collection of woodcuts that ironically represented historic battle scenes not as heroic but banal events.


Chawst in a video interview also acknowledged that he liken the use of irony in his work because he likes “ to find some direction in (his) work either despising what (he’s) drawing about whatever it might be”. An article on Aiga revealed that Chawst’s most direct antecedents were Andre Fracois and Saul Steinberg who are masters of paradox and irony and that “a direct link between their brand of illustration and Chwast’s surreal comedy is still evident”.

Framework: How to be ironic?

The attributes of irony is broken down to form the framework.This is done so the it can be connected, measured, and applied into the project and outcomes.


Hence, the framework is based on two points:

The general definition of ‘showing the opposite


Lagerwerf's finding of ‘negative captions’.



The use of irony in advertisement was found that when an incongruity is interpreted as metaphor, pun, or irony the effort people have made to come up with a correct interpretation will result in their appreciating the trope, and hence the advertisement itself (Lagerwerf 1703). Hence, the use of irony will be a way the project attempts to capture the attention of Singaporean millennials.


Based on the definition of the framework above, the brand will be built by being self-contradictory. Everything it does goes against what the values stand for. Additionally, the tone-of-voice and writing will always negative. It will be applied into the brand, and everything that revolves around it (social media pages and the campaign).

Lagerwerf, Luuk. "Irony and sarcasm in advertisements:

Effects of relevant inappropriateness". Journal of Pragmatics 39 (2007) 1702–1721


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