Ask students - What is the point of advertising? (i.e. what does it do?) Creates awareness of the product or service. Re-assures existing customers about the quality of the product. Re-assures the trade and the sales force. Tries to increase share of market. Holds onto an existing share of market against competition. Makes money & generates spending consumerism.
This presents some factual information. The price, the colour, the shape etc. But it omits much of the meaning making that normally ads rely on. Brands carry meaning. Images of who might use the car carry meaning etc.
We could also compare this to the transmission and ritual approach… so in transmission, the advert gives (new) information about a product (or reminds people about a product). In ritual view it maintains ideas about who we are, good and bad, how the product/company can be used for the good. Etc.
The campaign first made headlines in 2000 when the French fashion house plastered the image of red-headed Dahl, unclothed but for some sparkly jewels and a pair of heels and posing suggestively, on billboards around the country. Shot by Steven Meisel, Tom Ford - who was then the newly-appointed creative director of YSL - hoped the advert would put the then-ailing brand back on the fashion map whilst also giving a nod to house's history of sexual provocation and female liberation. Ford's technique worked and the image has since become synonymous with the house, and Opium - which was first launched in 1977 - remains one of YSL's best-known scents. The ASA received 948 complaints that the image was too sexually suggestive and unsuitable to be seen by children. As a result it was removed from billboards, but was still allowed to be used in appropriate magazines. Of the advert Dahl has said: "I think the photograph is beautiful... it was seen as being anti-women, when in fact I think it is very empowering to women.” Do a semiotic analysis of this image… Then discuss about the targeting of adverts…. Ad agencies design and place ads. in a way that targets certain groups of people. Why? The process of advertising is more efficient if there is a targeted match of meanings between objects and people. What does it actually mean to ‘target’ audiences? Targeting means that the advert needs to make sense to the group of people that ht eproduct is aimed at. Of course often the product is aimed at a general e.g. adult or child target. But often it is aimed at specific socio-eoncomic groupings or to e.g. men or women, etc.
‘use value’ – refers to the pure usefulness of things e.g. cars get you from A to B ‘exchange value’ – refers to human values, identities etc. e.g. a VW campervan
Ads take into account the inherent qualities of the product and make them mean something to the target group. What meanings are being added to here? What is being referred to? Besides trying to sell products, ads sell us ourselves. (Williamson 2002:12)
Talk students through this diagram then…. Problem – how to connect the attributes of objects (e.g. size, power, smell, speed, shape, efficiency and so on …) to human terms (e.g. values, lifestyles, identities, feelings, moods, emotions and so on …) i.e. how to connect ‘use value’ to ‘exchange value’ In the words of judith williamson ads don’t just sell us things – they sell us ourselves. This means that we come to associate particular products and services with particular feelings, emotions, values etc. When they become so endowed with those attributes we don’t distinguish between them. They become interchangeable. i.e. the brand comes to stand for a particular type of person (me the target audience). So the ad is selling ‘myself’ to myself.
Social and personal meanings are added to persuade us to not only buy the product but buy into a connoted world.
Social and personal meanings are added to persuade us to not only buy the product but buy into a connoted world. Clemence poesy – fleur delacour in goblet of fire (2005) and deathly hallows (2010//2011). How would you describe the character offered here?
Apple MAC advert 1984 George Orwell’s 1984 – Big Brother, the Los Angeles olympic games boycotted by much of the eastern bloc countries as then, in response to the american-led boycott by the USA (in response to the afghanistan invasion by the USSR.
Metonymy works by substituting one thing (signified) for another related signified. The relation is often: Physical – “The suits make all the decisions around here” Cause and effect – “Don’t get hot under the collar”. I can do this,no sweat. That’s the drink talking. Place and person – “There’s been no word from No. 10” Part and whole – “There are two mouths to feed in my family”. The pen is mightier than the sword
“The building blocks of ideologies are myths. Barthes (1972) defined a myth as an uncontested and unconscious assumption that is so widely accepted that its historical and cultural origins are forgotten … Ideologies are born when myths are combined into coherent philosophies and politically sanctioned by the culture.” To what extent do the audi and chloe adverts naturalise certain assumptions about women? To what extent do they challenge those assumptions about women? What are those assumptions? Ideology is present in advertising in many different ways. Buy this product be patriotic. Buy this product strengthen your family relationships/become a good father. Buy this get a boyfriend It positions the reader in a certain way and asks him/her to participate in the embedded ideology. Predominantly, it is a way of communicating which naturalises consumer culture as the way of living/being. You are what you buy. The real differences between people are in their different roles in the process of production. In other words, the difference between someone who owns a company earning £100000 and someone who works for £4.50 an hour on the shop floor is what really defines who we are in society. However through advertising we identify ourselves with the products we buy. Advertising therefore masks the real structure of society (which is class based) by creating new ‘classes’ of people defined by what they buy.
Things to look for: Use of colour Size Placement Stance/posture etc. i.e. arrangement of the human body Age Gender Expression, eyes/gaze, touch Use of objects Scenery Language Metaphor What aspects of this representation might we ‘take for granted’? What arrangement and choice of signs appears to be just ‘naturally so’? Note how in the analysis of myth, the first order
3. lz411 analysing advertising
LZ411 – Critical Media Theory
LZ411 – Critical Media
Aims today …
1.Examining the ‘language of advertising’
2.Doing semiotic analyses of advertising
3.Myth and ideology in advertising
"Advertising isn't a science. It's persuasion. And persuasion is an art."
Bill Bernbach – creator of the ‘lemon’ ad. for VW
Advertising in daily life
• What adverts can you remember from the last
• Which adverts are most memorable for you
• What have you bought because you saw/heard
about it in an advert?
An advert …
Buy this car.
All the small print . All the small print . All the small print . All the small print . All the small print .All the small print . All the small print . All the
small print . All the small print . All the small print . All the small print . All the small print . All the small print .All the small print . All the small
print . All the small print .
The functions of advertising
“[It] has a function, which is to sell things to us.
But it has another function, which I believe in
many ways replaces that traditionally fulfilled by
art and religion. It creates structures of
(Williamson 1978: 11-12)
Structures of meaning
• Ad. agencies sell products to audiences/readers
through creating meaning. Advertising creates
“symbolic ‘exchange values’… Translating the
language of objects to that of people”.
Advertiser: Volkswagen Group. Brand name: Audi
Product: Audi A6 V6 2.4 Agency: Verba Released: July 1999
Start: Sign – Audi A6
Signifier – word Audi A6
Signified – powerful, luxury, ‘high
class’ car. For a particular type of car
Brand aim: increase consumer base
to include those put off by the
‘luxury’ label because of six cylinders
(i.e. most cars are 4)
Need to: change signified of signifier
‘Audi A6’ to ‘not
Result: Sign – Audi
Signifier – word audi
Signified – having six cylinders in a
car is not luxury it’s
normal/everyday etc. It’s for anyone
Communicative strategy: Associate
signifier with everyday object. How?
Through one attribute.
Devices of connecting
objects/services and people
• (Some) Devices
• Connection through juxtaposition
• Connection through storying (narrative)
• Use of figurative language (e.g. metaphor and metonym)
• ‘Voice of the advert’ in terms of a human
attribute/character (e.g. humour, irony, playfulness, clever)
• In short – connecting one sign system (already
known from our histories, culture, society) to
another (the product or service to be sold)
• Another way of communicating is by reference to
other texts. The meanings in one text are often based
on the meanings in another. Think how ads ‘borrow’
from film and TV, and vice versa.
• Action (plot) Building and maintaining our
interest in a narrative by showing an action.
We keep watching/reading to see the result or
outcome of the action.
• Enigma code – Building and maintaining our
interest in a narrative by posing questions,
puzzles. We keep watching/reading to find the
solution to the puzzle.
TV advertisement examples
• Audi – TDI Quattro
• Chloe perfume
2007 Advertising Agency: Zoo Advertising,
‘Myth’ in advertising
• Signs have connotations which trigger ‘mythic
meanings’ (Barthes 1972)
• Advertising works by juxtapositioning the
product and some other signifier with a mythic
meaning. Transferring of that meaning to the
product is done by the reader.
• Myth and gender – Audi and Chloe
Reading and Seminar
• Finish reading Penn (2000) in module reader
• Seminar – discussing the way ads work.
Discussing advertising, myth and ideology.
Analysing more examples of advertising
• Blog – carry out your own analysis on one of
the ads we discuss in the seminar.