Textual and Visual Analysis of an Advertisement

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One of the most recognizable athletes in the world and more importantly, one of best soccer players in the game today, David Beckham is also a popular figure in the world of the media and advertising. He has made appearances in advertisements for such companies as Adidas, Pepsi, Gillette, and Vodafone. Recently, I noticed an advertisement in People for "David Beckham Instinct," a product line consisting of aftershave and fragrances. On the back of the magazine, he is shown in a head-only photo looking into the camera against a very plain, blue back drop. A picture of the product is placed in the lower right-hand corner, right above the words, "New Fragrances for Men." Directly above the picture of the product reads "Beckham Fragrances," with the icon of the product above that phrase. These underlying details of the advertisement lead to a product aimed at a middle-aged, middle-class male. The demographics of People and also Sports Illustrated, where the advertisement has recently appeared, reinforce this idea. People, although predominantly female at 87%of the readers, attracts a readership that has a median age of thirty-seven years-old and a median household income of approximately $73,000. Sports Illustrated has a readership that is 75% male with approximately 90% of the readers being aged between sixteen and forty-nine. The average household income of the readers is approximately $60,000. The two sets of demographics in the magazine in which Beckham's advertisement appears reaffirm that the advertisement is aimed at middle-aged, middle-class males.

It is quite clear in the advertisement that David Beckham is authoritatively gazing into the camera lens, and hence, directly at the reader. This pose asserts that a connection with the reader is established. It addresses the reader directly, rather than not looking into the camera, and almost demands a relationship with the reader. David Beckham in this advertisement can be seen as saying, "I demand you to enjoy this product and its benefits." Klein reaffirms this idea by stating that "advertising has shifted from a focus on the qualities of a company's products to a focus on engaging consumers in an intimate relationship with the intangible personality or soul of a brand" (Klein 5-8). This is exactly what Beckham is doing, creating a relationship with the consumer. The placement of the product also presents an interesting idea. Because the common convention is to read from left to right, top to bottom, the placement concerning this advertisement is strategically in the lower right-hand corner. The team of advertisers is potentially hoping to create a lasting impression since the lower right-hand corner is more than likely the last area to be seen. The size of the product on the page is not very big; it is almost as if the product was photographed at real-life size.

The predominant colors found in the advertisement are blue, the color of the back drop, while the bottles of cologne shown in the bottom right-hand corner are red. The choice of blue is obvious – it is cool, soothing, and orderly and it brings comfort and serenity to our eyes, mainly because society relates the color blue with the sky. The choice of red for the color of the bottles is not so obvious. Red is considered the most passionate and the most dynamic color for it symbolizes love, rage, and courage, perhaps parallel with the name of the product, "Instinct."

The voice, or tone, of the advertisement is along the lines of calm. The blue in the background symbolizes serenity and peace due to its relation with the sky. Beckham's countenance reveals why the advertisement is so serious. This serious tone is reinforced by the price of the product. The advertisement, though serious and calming in tone, is not all that informational. That is not to say that it is nonsensical. The lack of the use of words does not present the reader a chance to learn more about the product. The...
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