Rhetorical Analysis


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A rhetorical analysis of the design of the It’s Dangerous Out There ad campaign for Renault Motor Company of France. Specifically, my analysis highlights how designers effectively position the vehicle and its environmental surroundings as minimally abstract, near replicas, while concurrently highlighting the dangers that surround drivers on the road in a highly symbolized and abstract, yet recognizable fashion. (2008)

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Rhetorical Analysis

  1. 1. Rhetorical Analysis of a Design Kristian Lopez
  2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>Designed for Renault by the Publicis Conseil Advertising Agency of Paris, France, the “It’s Dangerous Out There” ad campaign blends realistic photographic imagery with abstract (universal) icons to create meaningful and creative artifacts. </li></ul>http://adsoftheworld.com/media/print/renault_megane_snow http://adsoftheworld.com/media/print/renault_megane_mountain http://adsoftheworld.com/media/print/renault_megane_forest
  3. 3. Primary Elements <ul><li>Throughout, abstract iconography like the deer and equestrian crossings, and realistic photography like the Megane and the environment, function as primary elements in the artifacts. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Elements and Interaction <ul><li>The primary elements communicate visually the steadfastness of the Renault Megane, in the face of road way hazards. </li></ul>http://adsoftheworld.com/media/print/renault_megane_mountain
  5. 5. The Role of the Replica <ul><li>The realistic photographic imagery creates specific and identifiable realities, while the text provides association with the marketing phrase (It’s Dangerous Out There) and the Renault trademark: the silver diamond. </li></ul><ul><li>The Megane and the environment however, do not invoke significant meaning on their own. As Arnheim tells us, “mere replicas may be useful as raw material for cognition but are produced as cognitive acts of the lowest order and do not, by themselves, guide understanding.” </li></ul><ul><li>In other words, something else needs to be factored into the equation to show just how dangerous out there it is. </li></ul>
  6. 6. The Role of the Icon <ul><li>According to Scott McCloud, an icon is an image that represents a person, place, thing or idea. </li></ul><ul><li>Icons, like those in the image on the right, are abstract. That is, the icons represent hazards on the roadway, but bear no traits that align them to specific entities (i.e. the cars are not identifiable as a particular brand, etc.) The icons are familiar designates of warning from road signs, but are very general. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Abstraction <ul><li>Abstraction is the means by which an image interprets what it portrays. </li></ul><ul><li>The more abstract an icon, the more universal it is. </li></ul><ul><li>The more universal an icon, the more salient it is to a broader community. </li></ul>This cyclist could be anyone… … while this cyclist is a specific person. http://www.flickr.com/photos/azriadnan/2246180214/
  8. 8. Abstraction Through Simplification <ul><li>According to McCloud, abstraction through simplification occurs when an image is stripped down to its essential meaning or form. By becoming more abstract, an image is less complex in structure, and more universal in appearance. </li></ul><ul><li>Abstraction through simplification creates meaning in the “It’s Dangerous </li></ul><ul><li>Out There” ad campaign </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Abstract icons are positioned alongside photographic elements, thus providing a universal definition of road way threats. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The photographic image of the Megane, on the other hand, is deployed to show how it specifically is the key to surviving the universal dangers of driving. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>In the snowy scene on the right, notice the wheels in motion, and the snow being “kicked” backwards by the rear wheels. The Megane is safely commanding the seemingly slick road. </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>The abstract icons surround the Megane. Unlike the Megane however, the other vehicles are spinning out on the slick surface. The threats are universal in their presence, danger and lack of confidence on the road way. </li></ul>
  11. 11. The Replica vs. the Icon <ul><li>The rules of inclusion guide the usage of iconography in tandem with photographic images. </li></ul><ul><li>Similarly, the rules of exclusion guide the choice to not use all icons or all photographs. </li></ul><ul><li>The icon of the car swerving is a signifier of the signified - the photo of the car swerving. </li></ul><ul><li>Use of photos only would lend too much specificity to the ads, and might detract from the visual weight of the Megane. The replicas would be in competition for hierarchy. </li></ul><ul><li>Use of icons only would lend too much abstractness to the ads. If the Megane was replaced with an icon, it would eliminate the visual weight and specificity of the photo of the car. As an advertisement, the artifact would not be a salient marketing tool. </li></ul>http://www.drivers.com/img/articles/139_shoulder2.jpg
  12. 12. Placement and Interpretation <ul><li>The placement of particular iconography in relation to the photographic elements of the artifact evokes meaning. </li></ul>http://adsoftheworld.com/media/print/renault_megane_forest
  13. 13. Visual Hierarchy <ul><li>Claire Harrison’s assessment of visual social semiotics tells us that in order for a sign to exist, “there must be meaning or content manifested through some form of expression or representation.” </li></ul><ul><li>A significant form of meaning is established through a visual hierarchy – a logical ordering of elements within a “visual narrative” to convey an easily understood order of importance. </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>The Megane (1) with its significant visual weight, is the focal point of the artifact. As a replica, the car draws the attention of the eye. Different lines of sight stem from the contours of the Megane to the various iconographic dangers (2-5). </li></ul>1 2 3 4 5
  15. 15. <ul><li>Unseen danger is emphasized above the roof line (2), as the deer is seen hurdling onto the road from the forest. It is larger, highlighting a switness in its movement toward the Megane. </li></ul><ul><li>Other dangers are emphasized between the roof and tire lines (3 - 5). Since these are in a similar scale to the Megane, they illustrate a closer, more immediate presence to the car. </li></ul><ul><li>Despite the dangers, the Megane is confidently navigating the roadway. </li></ul>1 2 3 4 5
  16. 16. Conclusion <ul><li>The “Its Dangerous Out There” ad campaign portrays an effective visual narrative based upon a simple ideology: The Renault Megane is will keep you safe on the road. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Works Cited <ul><li>McCloud, Scott. (1994). Understanding Comics. New York: Kitchen Sink Press. (pp. 138 – 161.) </li></ul><ul><li>Harrison, Claire. (2003). Visual social semiotics: Understanding how still images make meaning. Technical Communication, 50.1, 46 – 60. </li></ul>