Paper Three: Analyzing Advertisements
1.) First, choose 2 (two) print/web advertisements that sell the same kind of product. One of these should be from an American source and one from a source in your home country. The ads should be for similar products, so don’t compare an advertisement of a Hummer in the US with a Smart Car in Germany.
2.) Next, describe the ads in detail so that an audience can easily visualize them without actually seeing them. Details! Details! Details!
3.) Finally, analyze the two advertisements and explain how each of them appeals to its target audience. To what values does each ad appeal? How is each ad constructed to appeal to those values? In addition to analyzing rhetorical appeals made by each ad, you may also wish to evaluate or criticize the ads, commenting on the images of the culture they convey.
Length: 1200-2000 words
Format: APA (see pg. 634), double-spaced, appropriate font (i.e. New Times Roman 12)
Other: A detailed outline is part of this project (projects that do not include one will be downgraded by 10%)
This project will help you appreciate the fun, pleasure, and creativity of advertisements, become a more knowledgeable consumer and make better buying decisions, learn rhetorical strategies that you can apply future projects, and increase your perceptiveness of cultural values and identities.
The Rhetorical Power of Visual Literacy
From video games to cell phone videos we are constantly exposed to visual images. These images have power to persuade and urge us to believe ideas, buy products, go places, or otherwise change our views or behaviors. Visual literacy (the visual communication and our ability to interpret or make meanings out of graphics and images) is arguably the most important aspect of modern society.
Identifying Target Audience
As with any written paper, knowing your audience is crucial. Every well advertised product is effectively targeted towards a specific demographic category. It is important for you to consider who the ads are aimed at.
Camera Techniques: When analyzing photographs, one needs to consider the camera’s relationship to the subject. There are three basic camera techniques: distance from the subject, image orientation, camera angle, eye gaze, and point of view. Just look at the images on McDonald’s menu and compare it to the real product for examples of this.
Compositional Features of the Image: When photographs are used in ads, every detail down to the props in the photograph or the placement of a model’s hand is consciously chosen. When you analyze the compositional feature, you need to include settings, furnishings, and props, consider the characters, roles, and actions, as well as analyze the rhetorical context. Images are always a part of a rhetorical context (an advertisement, a news report, or a documentary). In analyzing advertisements pay special attention to the relationship between the image(s) and the words that accompany it. Also, pay attention to the document design, the style of language, and the connotations, double entendres, and puns. Finally, note the kind of information that is included or excluded from the ads.
Understanding Advertiser’s Goals and Strategies: Advertisement does not simply communicate neutral information. Most often, it tries to urge the consumer to buy a parity product (soft drinks, deodorant, breakfast cereal, toothpaste, cleaning products, etc.). Psychological and motivational strategies are among the most commonly used ones in advertising. For example, advertisers study people’s behavior, preferences, values, etc. and the differences between these depending on their socio-economic status, ethnicity, gender, etc. Such studies enable advertisers to tailor the appeal of a product to a target audience. In order to establish a major influence on the market, advertisers use long-term advertising campaigns rather than one-time ads. These campaigns are aimed towards building a brand loyalty that has long lasting effects.
An example of such a campaign would be “Just Do It” by Nike. Advertisers try to convert a brand name from a label on a shirt to a number of qualities, values, and images that live inside the heads of its targeted consumers. An ad campaign, therefore, uses repetition of themes and slogans through a variety of individualized ads aimed at building up a psychological link between the product and the consumer. In the above example, Advertisers don’t just want you to buy Nike products rather than Adidas, but also to see yourself as a Nike person who attributes part of your identity to Nikes.
Cultural Perspectives: Not only do advertisements reflect cultural values and socio-economic status; they also actively construct and reproduce certain identities or stereotypes. It is particularly interesting to analyze the identities and values that advertisements project. For instance, an overwhelming number of ads portray women that are physically fit, blonde, with super athletic bodies and surgically enhanced breasts. A large number of socio-cultural studies suggest that such representations of women in ads pressure women to work towards this “ideal” and stay thin and fit. A lot of such ads portray unrealistic images of women and men and send potentially dangerous messages equating physical fitness with moral goodness. In doings so, many people (especially women) are lured to become lifelong consumers of beauty, fitness, and diet products at the expense of their self-esteem and health.
Note: The paper should discuss and compare the three rhetoric elements for both advertisements (Ads)
Rhetoric Elements: Ethos – Pathos – Logos.