Tv advertising case study

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  • 1. AS Media Studies MS1 Representations and ReceptionsAS MEDIA STUDIESMorecambe Community High SchoolMS1: Media Representations and ResponsesCase Study: TV AdvertisingThis case study is designed as part of series which will focus on arange of different media forms. You will be expected to refer tothese case studies in the summer examination, so keep it safe.Additional material for this unit can be found on the VLE as well asthe shared area on the network. This case study will focus on the following: • The conventions of TV advertising • Language used and mode of address • The construction of representations • The messages underlying those representations • How audiences are positioned to read the texts 1
  • 2. AS Media Studies MS1 Representations and Receptions Conventions of the TV advertisement Variations in format: 1. Mini-dramas: In TV, this kind of commercial is a full-range 30-60 second drama that presents characters, conflict, and resolution at breakneck speed. When done for national agencies, these commercials are at the very top of production lavishness and can be incredibly expensive. Examples: 2. Spokesperson Presentation: This type of commercial often involves a celebrity using his or her actual identity, or it can be an implied identity, using someone who is recognizable as a character, but not necessarily himself. The spokesperson needs to have an authoritative presence, and an honest, convincing delivery. Examples: 3. Pitch Presentation: This type of commercial resembles the old days of television when the "pitchman" would deliver a message about a product. The difference between a pitchman and a spokesperson is that the former is neither a celebrity or a known character. The product is of prime importance and the pitchman simply supplies the information. Examples: 4. Voice-Over: Many commercials use a voice-over. The performer who reads the copy is not seen in a voice-over commercial. Rather, the performers voice is heard as a major component of the sound track. Examples:Length15 seconds to a minute is the norm but modern examples have includedlonger running times which can be three or four minutes, some of which areshown at the cinema. The production values for such texts are often very highand seem more like short films that adverts. Very short ‘teaser’ adverts are 2
  • 3. AS Media Studies MS1 Representations and Receptionsalso common, some lasting just a few seconds. These will often be part of alarger campaign. • Think of some memorable examples of both very long and very short adverts. Why do you think the ads were so memorable? What stands out in your mind?Narrative:Time will be compressed in a TV ad. The editing will be fast and any story orplot woven in will have to be resolved within a minute! If an ad borrows formfilm or TV genres (as they often do) then they will have to select the mostrecognisable elements. A recent example was the Daz campaign which usedthe soap opera as a genre to advertise its product. Each ad ended in a ‘cliff-hanger’ which is typical of the genre. Brand/Product Identification: The brand/product must be visible in the commercial. Generally speaking the product is identified very early in the ad or at the very end of the ad as a surprise tactic.Commercials as an Art Form:So much creative process goes into the making, directing, and shooting ofcommercials that many people consider commercials as an art form. Awardshave been given to commercials for the following categories: • art • story • costumes • choreography direction • set design • technical • special • music • animation effects • acting • Analyse a TV advert and identify the conventions. Use the categories listed above as sub-headings. 3
  • 4. AS Media Studies MS1 Representations and ReceptionsThe process of representation is characterised by using signs that we recallmentally or phonetically to comprehend the world.Two things are fundamental to the study of signs: 1. The signified: a mental concept, and 2. The signifier: the verbal manifestation, the sequence of letters or sounds, the linguistic realisation.What else affects our reading of media representations? o Past experiences o Demographic group of the ‘reader’ e.g. social class, age etc. o Psychographic profile, e.g. aspirationsHow do we translate this idea for the media?The signifier becomes image and sound from the media. In the case of printmedia it will take on the form of graphics, fonts, even words, headlines onnewspapers for example.For this study we will consider TV advertising so we must consider thefollowing o The image itself and what our attention is drawn to in the frame o The editing of the sequence: what is the order of the sequence? Does it offer a ‘story’? Does it offer a conclusion? o The sounds: voice overs, language, emphasis 4
  • 5. AS Media Studies MS1 Representations and ReceptionsWatch the two advertisements for Gillette razors. They both show contrastingideas about the role of men and women in society during the 1960’s and the1990’s.• In the first ad (1967) there is little in terms of performance. Instead we are given a voice over which offers up ideas about the roles of men and women. Briefly describe these roles.• The second ad (1989) relies heavily on visual images and a fast editing style. What do these images tell us about the modern man and his role in society? What about women and their role?• What conclusions can we make about gender representations over time? 5
  • 6. AS Media Studies MS1 Representations and ReceptionsA Reminder about RepresentationIt is possible to see representation as divided into three levels. • At the most general level we can talk about something called type. We recognise a category of character in a story, such as shopkeeper type. But for some reason this character does not emerge as a stereotype. It may be that, that particular character lacks a clear set of characteristics reinforced by years of repetition. • A stereotype is a simplified representation of human appearance, character and beliefs. A stereotype becomes established through years or representation in the media. Countries and even whole continents are often represented in the media in a stereotypical way. Consider, for example, the most common media representations of Africa, which is often presented through images of starvation and war. • The most intense examples of types are also deeply embedded in our culture. The term archetype is defined as an ‘original model’ or a ‘mental image inherited by all; a recurrent symbol or motif’. We can take it to mean characters – heroes, heroines and villains – that stand for the deepest beliefs, values and perhaps prejudices of a culture.Essentially the discussion of representation enables the audience to askquestions about how certain media texts present the world as we know it backto us. Studying representation reminds us of how we are giveninformation and ideas about the world. It is a ‘political’ term that enablesus to study the ways in which certain ideas and values are either restricted oropened up for wider interpretation. 6
  • 7. AS Media Studies MS1 Representations and Receptions • Let’s look at an example. Choose an example of a social group ou feel is well represented in advertising. 1. List as many types and variants within this social group as you can as you can. Next to each, make a note of some of their attributes. Consider appearance and behaviour. What elements of that type help you identify them? 2. Choose one group from your list that you think has been stereotyped. Can you identify how repetition in the media has reinforced this stereotype? Try to give some examples of such stereotypes in the media outside of advertising. 3. Is it possible to identify an archetype for any of the groups in your list? 4. Identify some advertising campaigns that represent this group. Perform a textual analysis on one of the adverts using the following subheadings (you may need to do this as homework) i. Visual codes and technical codes ii. Stereotypical representations 7
  • 8. AS Media Studies MS1 Representations and ReceptionsRepresentation theoryMediationEvery time we encounter a media text, we are not seeing reality, butsomeones version of it. This may seem like an obvious point, but it issomething that is easily forgotten when we get caught up in enjoying a text.The media place us at one remove from reality: they take something that isreal, a person or an event and they change its form to produce whatever textwe end up with. This is called mediation.If you ever go to see a comedy show recorded for the television, you will seethe process of mediation in action. What might end up as a half hourbroadcast, will be recorded over an entire evening - jokes that might seemspontaneous when watched on the TV will have been endlessly repeated until"just right". The studio audience will have been trained into laughing in exactlythe right way by warm up men and the text that finally reaches the public willalso be given context by use of soundtrack music and computer graphics. Thewhole experience of hearing a few jokes will have been mediated.Of course, most of us are aware of this- we know that what we are seeing in afilm or a soap opera isnt real- we just allow ourselves to forget for the timethat the programme is on that it is a fiction. At the same time we all have ideasin our heads of some kinds of texts which might be somehow less mediated- itis obvious that a fictional programme isnt real but when we encountersomething like the television news, we are more likely to believe in thestraightforward nature of the "truth" we are receiving.Mediation- three things to look for: 1. Selection- Whatever ends up on the screen much more will have been left out 2. Organisation- The various elements will be organised carefully in ways that real life is not- in visual media this involves mise-en-scene and the organisation of narrative, Any medium you can think of will have an equivalent to these. 3. Focusing- mediation always ends up with us, the audience being pushed towards concentrating on one aspect of the text and ignoring others. If you are watching a film the camera will pan towards an important character, in a tabloid the headlines will scream, for your attention 8
  • 9. AS Media Studies MS1 Representations and ReceptionsApplication of theory: Mediation in TV adsName of product:Brief description of ad/title:Social group(s) being represented:Profile of target demographic:Psychographic profile: o Selection: What elements of this social group have been selected? What has been taken out? Try to link this to the audience profile o Organisation: Is there an order to the events in the ad? Is there a narrative? Consider how the ad starts and ends. Is this realistic? Why? o Focusing: Is our attention drawn only to the product, or are we being drawn towards other elements? What are they? Try to link these to the audience profile. 9
  • 10. AS Media Studies MS1 Representations and ReceptionsStereotyping in the mediaHow can the media build a stereotype?With any group of people, there will obviously be an enormous number ofthings that can be used in a stereotype, but because stereotyping is a form ofsimplification, normally the most obvious things are used. These are:Appearance- this can include, physical appearance and clothing as well asthe sound of the voice. e.g. "all teachers wear dreadful old clothes" (which isclearly untrue)Behaviour - typical things that people in this group might do. "Grannies like toknit"(These first two features of media stereotypes are the same when we makeour own stereotypes. They simply involve us thinking of something that maybe true of some of the group in question and applying it to all)The stereotype is constructed in ways that fit the particular medium:This is more difficult to understand but it is crucial for you to look for it. If youwatch a film such as Silence of the Lambs and then look at the tabloidcoverage of Fred West, you are seeing the same stereotype (the typical SerialKiller) being used, but there are obviously big differences which will dependon the specifics of the media used. The film will use close ups of the killersleering face, soundtrack music and reaction shots of terrified victims to createtheir version of the stereotype. The newspaper will use emotive headlines,blurred pictures of victims and police mug-shots of the killer along withshocking text and interviews with survivors. In each case the text will create astereotype which its audience will find familiar, but it will do it in very differentways.There will always be a comparison whether real or imaginary with "normal"behaviour. 10
  • 11. AS Media Studies MS1 Representations and ReceptionsStereotyping in TV advertisingName of product:Brief description of ad/title:Social group(s) being represented:Profile of target demographic:Psychographic profile: o Stereotypical appearance and behaviour: o Can you think of other examples which have reinforced this stereotype? To ensure that it gets to the right audience, which TV shows might this be shown during? 11