It‟s everywhere; in every direction we look. It‟s on the way to the train station, it‟s in the train on the wall beside our seat, and it‟s even on our coffee cup we just bought from Starbucks. It‟s unavoidable. You can try to run away from it, but it always catches up to you. You can pretend like it doesn‟t affect you, but ultimately it always does. It‟s powerful. It‟s much stronger then we realize. It can manipulate people into thinking a certain way, influence people to do something, and even change cultural opinion. What is it? It‟s none other than advertising. With the right research, look, and design an advertisement has the capabilities to change the way people think of a certain product.
Take Dove for example. Prior to 2004, this international mega brand used advertising tactics much like many beauty brands in the industry were using- skinny models, sexual innuendos, and trendy images.
But their products weren‟t getting the success they hoped for. Driven by a declining market share and decreased sales, Dove decided to take a daring new move and use curvier women in their ads. They called their new campaign the “Dove Campaign for Real Beauty”. The campaign, which targeted women of all shapes and sizes, sought to reverse the fabricated idea that all women should be a size 2 with voluptuous lips, perfect hair, and toned skin. Ultimately, Dove hoped that the campaign would change the way their target audience related to their products. They never could have imagined the campaign would get so much attention, spark heated debate, and be a leading factor of increased sales and market share. So how exactly did Dove succeed in doing all this? Let‟s look at one of Dove‟s advertisements and analyze its relationship to the original product. One billboard sums up the “Dove Campaign for Real Beauty” in a nutshell. The billboard, which advertises Dove‟s skin firming lotion, is just one example of Dove‟s newest campaign, which seeks to change the way Dove‟s target audience relates to their products. The billboard is able to put a certain spin on the skin firming product by using a variety of tactics and strategies. One such strategy is hidden in the text of the billboard itself. Advertising is famous for its use of rhetoric language, and the Dove advertisement is an excellent example of using rhetoric to persuade its audience. The words „new‟ and „real‟ evoke a feeling of freshness and help persuade the audience to buy the lotion. According to Gillian Dyer, author of Advertising as Communication (1988, p.149), the word „real‟ is one of the most common adjectives used in advertising. “Words such as „new‟ and „real‟, not only describe things, but they communicate feelings, associations, and attitudes; they bring ideas to our minds.” (Dyer 1988, p.140). Dyer (1988, p.158) also states that “rhetoric language also carries the implication of extravagance and artifice, not to mention a lack of information.” The lack of information is clear in the Dove billboard. The sentence is abbreviated and simply constructed, which is a common technique among advertisements as to not confuse the target audience with the message. Every element of the Dove campaign has been strategically placed for maximum impact. The colour white, which takes up most the space on the billboard, is a sacred and pure colour. The colour can aid in mental clarity, help evoke purification of thoughts and actions, and enable fresh beginnings (Squidoo). The colour white also has a soothing aspect to it, and helps draw attention to the most important image on the billboard; the six women.
The women are shown wearing only underclothes evoking a feeling of intimacy and self confidence and acceptance. The women seem happy, relaxed, and secure. Every aspect of the women from their eye-contact, to their size, to their manner are all involved in the coding process of the ad, which helps to create a message of natural and real beauty. According to Dyer, ads...
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