Advertising Terror

What is the research project about?

Based on the study "Branding Terror –The Logotypes and Iconography of Insurgent Groups and Terrorist Organizations" by Beifuss/Bellini/Heller (2013) the project aims at doing research on the communication design strategies of terrorist organizations such as ISIS, Al-Qaedaand other violent extremist group–the results should contribute to appropriate design strategies for counter terrorism.


What is the research question?

What are the communication design strategies of terrorist networks and violent extremists? How do they use social media and below the line channels to communicate? How can counterterrorism learn from that strategies?


Who can supervise the students?

Prof. Dr. Arne Scheuermann(project manager)


What competences and qualifications should the student bring with him/her?

  • fearless, stable mental constitution (ability to work with stressful material)

  • experience in analysing images and type

  • serious interest in politics esp. safety and counter terrorism issues

  • subtle ability to analyse typography and calligraphy


In what period of time can one participate in the research project?



In what framework should the research project be developed?

→ preliminary study; pictorial investigation; design inquiry


The research will be mainly undertaken via web-based archives; the material has to be classified and interpreted; the results should contribute to a research proposal on the visual rhetoric of counter terrorism by the senoir researcher; further collaboration is to be discussed.


How could collaboration in the research project fail?

The material is very stressfull and very hard to approach. An investigation on the ISIS e.g. confronts the researcher with web-videos of murder, decapitation and other cruel actions.


That is why it is required to enclose a proposal about your personal stress management (0.5-1 page) within your application; prior consultation with the senior researcher is recommended.


Contact: Prof. Dr. Arne Scheuermann,

Links: Counter Terrorism Communication Design,