Joseph Sassoons' "The role of helpers in advertising"  for Revelation's Great Research Thinking
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Joseph Sassoons' "The role of helpers in advertising" for Revelation's Great Research Thinking

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The Great Research Thinking (GRT) webinar deals with advertising. The role of "helpers" -- or archetypes that move narrative along -- is explained. The presentation merges thinking on French semiotics ...

The Great Research Thinking (GRT) webinar deals with advertising. The role of "helpers" -- or archetypes that move narrative along -- is explained. The presentation merges thinking on French semiotics and Hollywood screenwriting, creating a powerful framework for advertising narratives.

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Joseph Sassoons' "The role of helpers in advertising"  for Revelation's Great Research Thinking Joseph Sassoons' "The role of helpers in advertising" for Revelation's Great Research Thinking Presentation Transcript

  • ALPHABET research Joseph Sassoon THE ROLE OF HELPERS IN ADVERTISING BRIDGING THE WAY FROM SEMIOTICS TO STORYTELLING Revelation 2009 Great Research Thinking Webinar Series Based on the speech given in Istanbul at the Esomar World Conference – Qualitative 2008
  • CONTENTS A NEW METHOD THE FRENCH SCHOOL OF SEMIOTICS AMERICAN STORYTELLING THE ROLE OF HELPERS - EXAMPLES CONCLUSIONS Alphabet 2 research
  • CONTENTS A NEW METHOD THE FRENCH SCHOOL OF SEMIOTICS AMERICAN STORYTELLING THE ROLE OF HELPERS - EXAMPLES CONCLUSIONS Alphabet 3 research
  • AN ORIGINAL METHOD Our method for analysing ads is a convergence between two particularly suitable ways of studying stories: Semiotics of the French Theories concerning the school (École de Paris), creation of myths born in which Alphabet has the place which, more adopted over many years than any other, feeds as its main method of contemporary analysing advertising imagination: Hollywood Alphabet 4 research
  • IN OTHER WORDS… We combine two cognitive tools of extraordinary value, with diverse characteristics and some affinity – never previously brought together: SEMIOTICS SCREENWRITING LOGICAL APPLIED ART CATEGORIES AD ANALYSIS Main reference: Main reference: Jean-Marie Floch Christopher Vogler Alphabet 5 research
  • CONTENTS A NEW METHOD THE FRENCH SCHOOL OF SEMIOTICS AMERICAN STORYTELLING THE ROLE OF HELPERS - EXAMPLES CONCLUSIONS Alphabet 6 research
  • THEORETICAL ASSUMPTIONS OF THE FRENCH SCHOOL MEANING is a process by which A DEEP VALUE is set in A NARRATIVE STRUCTURE then filled with FIGURES AND SIGNS Alphabet 7 research
  • THE BASIC ANALYTICAL GRID Widely based on Floch’s perspective, it has four fundamental levels: 1) SURFACE LEVEL visual/colour codes verbal/sound codes campaign development proxemics 2) FIGURATIVE LEVEL analysis concrete figures/gestures rhetorical structure spatial/temporal choices 3) NARRATIVE LEVEL general scheme of action actants and archetypes narrative sequence semiotic modalities 4) DEEP LEVEL values of the advertisement Alphabet 8 research
  • RHETORICAL STRUCTURE Analysing the rhetorical structure is crucial in the study of advertising, where usually the most important (verbal/visual) figures are: > hyperbole > metaphor > antithesis Examples of great But it is also necessary to understand advertising and exploit figures such as: metaphors: > metonymy > Exxon Tiger > Marlboro Man > oxymoron > litotes > calembour, etc. Alphabet 9 research
  • A PERFECT METAPHOR PERONI BLONDE Alphabet 10 research
  • A PERFECT METAPHOR PERONI BLONDE BLONDE TEMPTING FRESH FULL-BODIED NATURAL EFFERVESCENT Remarkably, these terms can refer equally to the product and to the girl Alphabet 11 research
  • AN ULTIMATE ANTHITESIS GOOD VS. EVIL VIOLENCE SPORTSMANSHIP Emphasizing the contrast between Heroes and Villains Alphabet 12 research
  • NARRATIVE OUTLINE According to the French school, the narrative outline is based on these main ‘actants’: Addresser Hero (or Subject) Object of Value Anti-Hero Helper (often Magic) Opponent In advertising, the product typically covers one of these roles: Hero, Object of Value or Helper Alphabet 13 research
  • EXAMPLES OF NARRATIVES In fables: A king (Addresser) orders a prince (Hero) to look for the magic sword (Helper) to kill a dragon (Anti-Hero) with and free the princess (Object of Value) Anti-Hero Addresser Hero Helper Object of Value Alphabet 14 research
  • EXAMPLES OF NARRATIVES In movies: Snow White (Hero) together with the 7 Dwarves (Helpers) opposes the plans of the queen/witch (Anti-Hero) and of the crow (Opponent) to join up with her love (Object of Value) Opponent Hero Object of Value Anti-Hero Helper Alphabet 15 research
  • EXAMPLES OF NARRATIVES In advertising: In the film 1984 to launch Macintosh a girl (Hero) runs with a heavy hammer (Helper) and is pursued by guards without faces (Opponent). She throws the hammer at a large screen where floats the face of a Big Brother (Anti-Hero), gaining the freedom of the subjugated men (Object of Value) Anti-Hero Hero + Helper Object of Value Opponent Alphabet 16 research
  • ACTANTS: HERO In advertising: In movies: Alphabet 17 research
  • ACTANTS: HELPER In movies: In advertising: Alphabet 18 research
  • ACTANTS: ANTI-HERO In advertising: In movies: Alphabet 19 research
  • ACTANTS: OBJECT OF VALUE In advertising: In movies: Alphabet 20 research
  • NARRATIVE SEQUENCE According to semiotics, in the development of stories there are four fundamental steps and three trials connected to them: Addresser’s path Manipulation Sanction Hero’s path The king asks the prince to free his Competence Performance daughter GLORIFYING TRIAL QUALIFYING TRIAL DECISIVE TRIAL The king gives the prince The prince finds the sword The prince defeats the dragon his daughter’s hand Alphabet 21 research
  • NARRATIVE SEQUENCE This approach can be of great use for analysing: commercials press ads posters websites In the case of a static image, clearly the message must focus on a specific semiotic step – but other steps are often implied: Visible: the decisive trial (athletic performance) Implied: the qualifying trial (drinking Gatorade) as a previous necessary step Alphabet 22 research
  • LIMITS OF THE SEMIOTIC APPROACH 1. HOWEVER, THE DEFINITION OF THE ACTANTS IS TOO SIMPLISTIC It does not take into account the many possible differences among Heroes, Helpers, etc. 2. THE NARRATIVE SEQUENCE IS TOO RIGID It does not encourage to find new creative ways to tell a story NEEDED: SOME FRESH INSIGHT ABOUT HOW GOOD STORIES CAN BE TOLD Alphabet 23 research
  • CONTENTS A NEW METHOD THE FRENCH SCHOOL OF SEMIOTICS AMERICAN STORYTELLING THE ROLE OF HELPERS - EXAMPLES CONCLUSIONS Alphabet 24 research
  • FROM SEMIOTICS TO STORYTELLING A different set of competences about storytelling: HOLLYWOOD an extremely rich an extraordinary ability to literature about create stories which professional transcend boundaries of screenwriting, made of age, nationality, thousands of books language, culture The best of screenwriters’ books build on the principles of myth Fundamental reference: Joseph Campbell’s celebrated work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces Alphabet 25 research
  • CAMPBELL AND THE ADVENTURE OF THE HERO The most influential American author in the analysis of myth structures Call to adventure Elixir Threshold crossing Brother-battle Return Helper Dragon-battle Resurrection THRESHOLD OF ADVENTURE Dismemberment Rescue Crucifixion Threshold struggle Abduction Tests Night-sea journey Wonder journey Whale’s belly Flight Helpers strong influence 1. SACRED MARRIAGE on George Lukas for 2. FATHER ATONEMENT STAR WARS 3. APOTHEOSIS 4. ELIXIR THEFT Alphabet 26 research
  • VOGLER’S CONTRIBUTION A smart adaptation of Campbell’s model to screenwriting: Ordinary World ACT I ACT III Separation Return Call Return with Elixir Refusal of Call Resurrection Meeting Mentor ORDINARY WORLD Crossing First Threshold Road Back SPECIAL WORLD Tests, allies, enemies Reward Approach ACT II-A ACT II-B Ordeal Descent Initiation Alphabet 27 research
  • A NEW MIX OF PRINCIPLES Vogler’s model goes beyond that of the French school in analyzing the narrative sequence: Ordinary World ACT I ACT III Separation Return Call Return with Elixir Refusal of Call MANIPULATION SANCTION Resurrection Meeting Mentor ORDINARY WORLD Crossing First Threshold Road Back SPECIAL WORLD Tests, allies, enemies COMPETENCE PERFORMANCE Reward Approach ACT II-A ACT II-B Ordeal Descent Initiation Alphabet 28 research
  • EXAMPLE: THE MACINTOSH 1984 CULT COMMERCIAL Paradigmatic case of Line of men staring at a giant video… action Hero Ordinary World Call Return with Elixir Refusal of Call “And you will see why 1984 won’t be like 1984” Manipulation Sanction Resurrection Meeting Mentor ORDINARY WORLD Crossing First Threshold Road Back SPECIAL WORLD The girl runs in with a hammer Men who were previously stupefied are now free Tests, allies, enemies Competence Performance Guards without faces try to stop her Reward Approach The screen implodes and the supreme guide disappears She runs up to the big screen Ordeal The girl throws the hammer Alphabet 29 research
  • ACTANTS AND ARCHETYPES The American approach also enriches the rather abstract semiotic definition of ‘actants’. For instance: Hero/Subject Helper/Mentor Anti-Hero/Shadow Hero of growth Master Villain, enemy Hero of action Bearer of magic gifts Antagonist Involuntary hero Inventor Femme fatale Hero as Warrior Shaman, initiation wizard Projection (Mr. Hyde) Hero as Lover Dark Mentor Cruel father/mother Solitary hero Ex-hero Monster, alien Group-oriented hero Inner Mentor (conscience) Humanised villain Catalysing hero Comic support Force of nature It’s not enough to put a certain product in the role of Hero: one has to decide what kind of Hero the product should be Alphabet 30 research
  • CONTENTS A NEW METHOD THE FRENCH SCHOOL OF SEMIOTICS AMERICAN STORYTELLING THE ROLE OF HELPERS - EXAMPLES CONCLUSIONS Alphabet 31 research
  • THE ROLE OF HELPERS As one of the three strongest role for a product or brand to play in a story, the HELPER is certainly a very rich and intriguing character Here are some examples: magic chastity magic magic elixir belt horse boots love coach genie rescuer potion Alphabet 32 research
  • MAGIC ELIXIR The magic elixir is a strong Helper of Heroes in many fairy tales, cartoons and fantasy movies But it is also very meaningful for functional and power beverages, advertised as performance boosters Alphabet 33 research
  • CHASTITY BELT The chastity belt is an archetype of coercion in the realm of love – a Helper used for chaining The “How far would you go for love’ campaign from Cartier is a sophisticated, symbolic interpretation of it Alphabet 34 research
  • MAGIC HORSE In myth and movies the horse is a quintessential Helper – a symbol of freedom Today’s equivalent is the motorcycle, and the comparison may sometimes be literal Alphabet 35 research
  • MAGIC BOOTS Boots can sometimes be a magic Helper, as suggested by ‘Cat in Boots’ fairy tale and several cartoons built on it In advertising, this role is often assigned to sports shoes, portrayed as the best ally of modern Heroes (the athletes) Alphabet 36 research
  • LOVE POTION Love potions are a mythical Helper for people determined to be loved at all costs, in tales and movies The ‘Axe Effect’ commercial brings this notion to an amusing and hyperbolic conclusion Alphabet 37 research
  • COACH In a lot of movies the coach is a very familiar Helper, whose support is often crucial to win a battle This Budweiser commercial uses a very special coach, for a training reminiscent of another, famous one Alphabet 38 research
  • GENIE The Genie is an classical Helper, most of all in Oriental fairy tales such as Aladdin This Adidas ad hints at the same archetype, with curious results Alphabet 39 research
  • RESCUER In many action and drama movies the Helper acquires the traits of the Rescuer or Savior This is what happens in an ad of the Catholic Church, devoted to saving youngsters from drug addiction Alphabet 40 research
  • CONTENTS A NEW METHOD THE FRENCH SCHOOL OF SEMIOTICS AMERICAN STORYTELLING THE ROLE OF HELPERS - EXAMPLES CONCLUSIONS Alphabet 41 research
  • CONCLUSIONS ADVANTAGES OF THIS METHOD It may provide: a greater articulation and refinement of the analysis indications for the roles products and brands can play ideas and solutions for improving the creative process an escape from over-standardized narrative formulas elements of distinctiveness compared to competitors Final aim: CONTRIBUTE TO CREATING BETTER ADVERTISING STORIES Alphabet 42 research