In this assignment, we will look at print advertisements from newspapers and magazines and what they say about their products, their consumers’ lifestyles, who is included and excluded from these products demographics, how we personally respond to these ads and what these products’ ads are saying about our culture and our society.
You have THREE options for the focus of this essay:
Discuss how your ad promotes a positive or negative social message. Does the ad make statements that support multiculturalism and diversity or does it promote stereotypes based upon race, gender, or class that promote prejudice and division? Does the ad empower or disenfranchise a minority group by its inclusive or exclusionary message? These same concerns can be addressed in body type, age, disability, or religion. Does the ad promote healthy or unhealthy lifestyle choices? Doe it ignore health risks of the product or does it promote dangerous actions (drunk driving, smoking, promiscuity to name a few)? Does the ad promote good habits? Are the model’s body images healthy or extreme? Does this same standard apply to both genders? Is the ad playing on audience fears to sell a product? Are these justifiable fears or extreme and paranoid fears? Who is targeted with the cautionary tale of this ad? Who is left out? How does class play a role in the paranoia or caution? How does race, age and gender play into the ad’s concerns?
You will move from a personal reaction or response to an analysis of the overt and covert messages presented in this ad. In order to analyze this ad effectively, you will need some terms, directions and a final draft discussion.
Demographic: In advertising or entertainment products, this is the desired and expected audience. Gender, race, age, income, marital status, sexual orientation, body type and ethnicity define the audience. Remember, there are no accidents in advertising. Each choice is deliberate and sends a message about the company’s views on our society and its typical or desirable consumer. You may feel like you’re, “Reading too much into this ad?” But in most cases, you are not. Form a hypothesis and then discuss and defend it.
Key Terms: These are terms defining the consumer and the lifestyle each consumer hopes to achieve when purchasing the item. These terms are both explicitly and implicitly presented. First, look at any wording or “copy” noted in the ad. List significant words that tell you about the product. Then free write and see what terms spring to mind from the images and layout of the ad. Key terms tell you who are the accepted consumers of this product and how you fit into this demographic.
Alternate Terms: These are the opposites of the Key Terms. What is polar opposite of the above terms and who is, therefore, omitted from the audience or demographic? Why are they omitted and what effect does this omission have on that portion of our society? Imagine yourself omitted and therefore, labeled undesirable by a product or group of products; how would this affect you? What does being consistently labeled as undesirable, through invisibility in the advertising or other media, do to one’s self image and perceptions?
Stereotypes and Cultural Myths: What are general assumptions made by the advertisers about their consumers’ lifestyles and life goals? In a cultural myth, the audience is regimented into a behavior or attitude by showing the only desired outcome for the consumer. In a stereotype, the members of the audience are broken down into vague generalities and are categorized by superficial criterion.
When examining your article, find the SURFACE. This is defined as the obvious factors that can be seen at a glance. Respond to images, text, use of color, warning placements, overt emotions the previously mentioned items evoke and the attention getting devices of the ad. In this part try to look at a print ad as...
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