Hijack Your Emotions

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The controversial advertisement titled Twin Towers released in May 2005, designed for the Nicolas Hulot Foundation- a French environmental awareness organization, is a hard-hitting and provocative advertisement that has effectively shown that to nature, we are all daily terrorists. The advertisement reproduces the iconic 9/11 terrorist attack scene, showing two trees being attacked in the same fashion as the World Trade Centre was attacked, carrying the message: “For nature, everyday is 9/11”. In order to build this argument, that nature is being attacked daily and is in dire need of conservation, rhetoric figures (primarily pathos and subsequently ethos and logos) are utilized. They are intentional and structured in a manner to persuade the audience in the most effective way. The image of the Twin Tower advertisement (Foundation Nicolas Hulot: 9/11 2012) can be seen in Figure 1. The audience is specific to all that have witnessed the events of 9/11, and are not sceptical that the event occurred. It is essential the viewer recognizes the 9/11 reference, as the entire art direction is directed by the iconic scene of the attack on the Twin Towers. It can be generalised that the vast majority of first and second world countries (if not the entire ‘world’) have, at least, seen this iconic image of flames erupting from the South Tower of the World Trade Centre, seen in Figure 2 (9/11 - 10 Years 2011) plastered across their television screen at least once, therefore creating a wide audience base. However, there is alienation of many people the ad is trying to influence, such as extreme pro-life activists in the US or those who believe 9/11 should be taboo in advertising. Yet amongst advertising agencies today there is wide understanding and acceptance that nothing is taboo. 9/11 is a reference for the entire world to use. Further conflicting audiences are those who believe climate change is fake or too far in the future to care about, or on the other hand those that believe climate change so ardently that there is nothing that can be done and they will not respond to new messages. Nevertheless, due to its content and context, this advertisement drew responses globally, whether in negative or positive light. 1

Hijack Your Emotion
Figure 1: Foundation Nicolas Hulot: 9/11 2012
In summary, the advertisement design is pitched for a demographic that are environmentally aware and, optimistically, aware of the brand Nicolas Hulot Foundation and prior advertisements released by them. This is due to the reputation of consistency and sincerity attached to the brand, as Nicolas Hulot is the French David Attenborough or “somewhat like the extended and French version of Al Gore” (Thorpe 2010). The audience recognizes the sincerity of the message rather than interpreting a cheap misused exploitation of human tragedy. It is also directed at those who have the legal right to sign the Kyoto Protocol application, whether male or female. Nevertheless, the interpretation of this advertisement is primarily dependent upon each individual viewers personal background, as every individual will have a unique interpretation and therefore unique reaction and response to the advertisement. Without knowledge of the context of 9/11 the audience can still deconstruct and interpret the advertisement message logically, through semiotics-that nature is under attack. American polymath Charles Peirce originally developed the symbol/index/icon triad as to simplify the analysis of media communications. An icon “is an image (or person) that refers to something beyond its individual components, something (or someone) that acquires symbolic significance” (Cartwright and Sturken 2009, 444). Therefore in this advertisement the viewer can interpret the photographic image of two trees, as two trees. Likewise the photographic image of the explosion is interpreted as an explosion. The explosion is universally interpreted as an artificial/human derived, through naturalization...
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