Lines of Appeal and Advertising TechniquesAdvertising, in its simplest form, is the way in which the vendor or manufacturer of aproduct communicates with consumers via a medium, or many different media. Itspurpose is to sell products and ideas, and to do this it must tap into its audience’s senseof need.This handout will begin by considering how different theorists have sought to describethe needs of consumers. This will give us a platform for assessing how advertisers seekto exploit those needs.Maslow’s Hierarchy of NeedsIn 1954, Austrian Psychologist Abram Maslow put forward the idea of a hierarchy ofhuman needs; his concept was that each stage of the hierarchy needs to be satisfiedbefore the next stage can be addressed – like climbing a flight of stairs. Starting at thelowest stage the hierarchy is as follows: • Physiological needs: food, drink, sleep, sex, relief from pain • Safety needs: security, protection, freedom from danger, order • Love and Belonging needs: friends, companions, family, being part of a group • Esteem needs: respect, confidence based on the good opinion of others, admiration, self-confidence, self– acceptance, self-worth. • Self actualisation needs: fulfil one’s potential, develop potential, do what you are best suited for, discover the truth about yourself, create beauty, produce order, promote justice.Maslow’s hierarchy was a psychological Self-actualisationstudy and was not intended to relate to mediastudies but it did influence attitudes to the Esteemmedia. Advertisers soon became increasinglyinterested in what motivated people to buy a Loveproduct and market research became the one Safetyof the most important parts of the advertisingprocess. Physiological(Right: Maslow’s hierarchy is often represented as a pyramid.)AppealsAccording to Gillian Dyer (Advertising as Communication, Routledge 1988) advertisersuse, among other techniques, the following lines of appeal. They use images of orreferences to these things to tap into our desires - and fears: • Happy families - everyone wants to belong • Rich, luxurious lifestyles - aspirational • Dreams and fantasy • Successful romance and love • Elite people or experts • Glamorous places • Successful careers • Art, culture & history • Nature & the natural world • Beautiful women - men AND women like looking at beautiful women, so the thinking goes: men admire them, women admire what makes the men admire them.
• Self-importance & pride • Comedy & humour • Childhood - can appeal to either nostalgia or to nurturing instinctsThese lines of appeal are effective because they deal with our social needs.15 Basic Appeals15 Basic Appeals are listed by Jib Fowles in Mass Advertising As Social Forecast.Need for sex - surprisingly, Fowles found that only 2 percent of the television ads, he surveyed used this appeal. It may be too blatant, he concluded, and often detracts from the product.Need for affiliation - the largest number of ads use this approach: you are looking for friendship? Advertisers can also use this negatively, to make you worry that you’ll lose friends if you don’t use a certain product.Need to nurture - every time you see a puppy or a kitten or a child, the appeal is to your paternal or maternal instincts.Need for guidance - a father or mother figure can appeal to your desire for someone to care for you, so you won’t have to worry. Betty Crocker is a good example.Need to aggress - we all have had a desire to get even, and some ads give you this satisfaction.Need to achieve - the ability to accomplish something difficult and succeed identifies the product with winning. Sports figures as spokespersons project this image.Need to dominate - the power we lack is what we can look for in a commercial “master the possibilities.”Need for prominence - we want to be admired and respected; to have high social status. Tasteful china and classic diamonds offer this potential.Need for attention - we want people to notice us; we want to be looked at. Cosmetics are a natural for this approach.Need for autonomy - within a crowded environment, we want to be singled out, to be a “breed apart.” This can also be used negatively: you may be left out if you don’t use a particular productNeed to escape - flight is very appealing; you can imagine adventures you cannot have; the idea of escape is pleasurableNeed to feel safe - to be free from threats, to be secure is the appeal of many insurance and bank adsNeed for aesthetic sensations - beauty attracts us, and classic art or dance makes us feel creative, enhancedNeed to satisfy curiosity - facts support our belief that information is quantifiable and numbers and diagrams make our choices seem scientificPhysiological needs - Fowles defines sex (item no.1) as a biological need, and so he classifies our need to sleep, eat, and drink in this category. Advertisers for juicy pizza are especially appealing late at night.Children are considered a special target group when it comes to advertising, andstrategies are used to especially target them. When analysing an ad you need to considerwhat kind of appeal is being made - does this ad tap in to your desire to be consideredsuccessful by your peers, for instance, or is it more about making you feel as thoughyou will belong to a happy group if you own a certain product? Often advertisingcreates need - in order to sell a product that we did not know existed, advertisers have tomake us aware that we need it.
Approaches to textual analysis of advertising1. Persuasive toolsHUMOURAspects of humour such as ambiguity and punning add layers of meaning to a text andwill make it more satisfying to decipher and consequently more memorable. Forinstance, Guinness, “Not everything in black and white makes sense.” The slapstickhumour of the “You’ve been tangoed” advertising made them notable and imitable.REPETITIONSlogans, images and brand names can be repeated and will give greater credibility to acampaign. Slogans remain in the memory long after the advertising campaign hasfinished. Everyone (above a certain age) remembers “A Mars a day helps you work, restand play.”SHOCK TACTICSLuciano Benetton provedthat shock tactics grab notonly the attention of theconsumer but also that ofthe media and in doing soincrease the effectivenessof the campaign manytimes over. More recently,Barnardo’s achievedsimilar results with acampaign on childprotection.SEXOne of the most basic human needs and one of the most effective persuasive tools is sex,we see images of sexy men and women all around us, our psyches are saturated withthem.2. Shortcuts to meaningIn advertising time and space is at a premium. You don’t waste time with too much textnor do you waste money with an advert that needs to be huge. The following tools areused as time/space savers.
STEREOTYPESThese are useful in ads because they are easily identifiable and the stereotype tends tobring with it certain messages. They are a short cut that can add immediate meaning.Stereotypes tend to be accepted without much questioning; this often allows us to acceptthe message contained within the advertisement without much questioning. However,given that a considerable proportion of our self-identity comes from the images andmessages in the advertising that surrounds us, stereotyping in advertising is seen aspotentially harmful.Gender stereotypes are the most common. Men are shown as primarily functional,associated with heavy machinery, business decisions, wearing executive suits andwatches, being taller than women etc etc. Women are decorative, associated withkitchen equipment and domestic financial decisions, often shown lying down on bedsand floors.You must be ready to spot any sort of stereotyping in your analysis of an advert. Whywas that stereotype used? Is it likely to cause offence? Does it distort the intendedmessage of the ad?INTERTEXTUAL REFERENCESUsing other texts to create or add immediate meaning to an advertisement is a usefuldevice. Is the ad a parody? Does its use music, characters or media stars? Film and TVparodies all help to add ideology and attract an audience.MUSICThis can be used in a number of ways as an attention grabber, asa narrative short hand and an emotive device. Advertisers oftenuse music to target audiences. Advertisers have become fond ofusing older tracks to promote youthful, happy memories in olderconsumers too.ELITE PERSONSFamous people are used to endorse products and if the audienceadmire that person or aspire to be like them they will be morelikely to buy the product. A good example of this is GaryLineker and Walkers crisps.3. SignsPOSITION SIGNSThe position of the camera always gives the audience a particular point of view, thiscould be meaningful. For example, if the picture is taken from a low angle the subject inthe advert will be imbued with authority.TREATMENT SIGNSThe type, angle, strength of the lighting, overall colour of the image, focus, compositionand framing all affect the meaning.CONTENT SIGNSPeople, objects, clothes, sounds etc. It is self evident that who or what the imagecontains will communicate this greatest part of the overall message.
SIGNS IN COMBINATIONWhat does the image, together with any music, or with the anchorage provided by thecaption suggest, as opposed to the image just by itself?4. Persuasive ideologiesREWARD AND PUNISHMENTThese are probably the most important persuasive devices in advertising. Physicalrewards are offered like “buy one get one free” or the face cream that will keep you“young looking”. More frequently psychological rewards are offered; Whiskers cat foodhas added vitamins, you will be a good owner if you feed this to your cat. The other sideof the coin also applies (as always) if you don’t use Whiskers you will be a bad ownerand your cat will be unhealthy.NEEDS, FEARS AND ASPIRATIONSMaslow’s hierarchy of needs is relevant here. Advertisers play on the need to be safe,secure, part of a relationship, part of a group, accepted etc. Insurance schemes, Pensionplans often use security as a persuasive device. Fashion ads often use the desire to partof a group, to belong, to persuade. People also need esteem and aspirations - they needto feel they are important and as such they are offered opulent lifestyles. Consumers areoften lulled into believing they are buying into a better life in this way.VALUE MESSAGESMany advertisers carry with them a message about life that cannot be denied, e.g “Lovehurts” and the advertiser will attempt to persuade you that the advert is undeniable toojust by using these types of phrases.Language of AdvertisingThe purpose of advertising language is to persuade. Whereas the slogan and the imagecan be humorous or attention-grabbing, the body copy is always to extoll the benefits ofa product and thus persuade the audience to buy buy buy! In his influential book,Confessions of An Advertising Man (Atheneum, 1988) David Ogilvy lists the mostpersuasive words in advertising as suddenly miracle now magic announcing offer introducing quick improvement easy amazing wanted sensational challenge remarkable compare revolutionary bargain startling hurryThese words act as triggers to interest audiences in a product. They are also over-used,and may, these days, be counted as clichés.Advertising makes use of a direct mode of address (the most commonly used word inadvertising is ‘YOU’) and short, active words. When analysing an ad you have toidentify the key persuasive words and consider their effect on an audience. Be critical:
are the advertisers taking a tried and tested approach or are they being original? Doesthe approach work?______________________________________________________Over to you…Now you can look a little more deeply into adverts. Do some research and answer thesequestions. 1. Find an advertising campaign that uses humour as its main persuasive device. Write down the target audience for the advert. 2. Write down five slogans for product recently advertised. What makes these slogans effective and memorable? 3. Which advertisers have used shock tactics lately and why are they shocking? 4. Collect five examples of sex being used as a persuasive device in adverts. 5. Write down as many stereotypes found in advertising as you can, try to link them to actual campaigns. 6. Find three examples of intertextuality in an advert. How effective is it as a technique? 7. Give three examples of elite persons in current advertising campaigns. Why have they been used? 8. Find five examples of “reward and punishment” persuasion in current campaigns.Handout based on materials from MediaKnowAll and the Trinity University Cumbria Media Studieswebsite