Behind the Obvious
Trademarks, slogans and branding are a big part of advertising today and have been a big part in the past. Companies spend millions to get the consumers attention. Advertising looked at with closed reading in mind may change the thoughts of consumers. Closed reading is defined as disciplined reading of a text or other object. Everyone at some point is a closed reader. We begin learning to read as closed readers because we are looking at each word individually and the meaning it has to the whole story. As adult closed readers, we are looking for the word play, the hidden meaning or the puns that the writer provides. In advertising, the reader tries to determine if others will see the same meaning or will they be misled. The object of closed reading is to unravel the text and share the meanings which are used to teach and enlighten. Bill Bryson gives examples of the many interpretations that are given for different products in his “The Hard Sell: Advertising in America” in the Reading Pop Culture anthology of closed reading. Eastman Kodak was the forerunner of American advertising as far back as 1895. Their first strategy was to appeal to the mass market. Eastman though was that he would rather make a little money from a lot of people instead of a little money from a few people. Eastman even chose the word Kodak because it could not be mispronounced nor was it a word that was attached to anything else. Other companies had slogans that were very memorable, for example: “Good to the last drop” from Maxwell House Coffee and “When it rains it pours” from Morton Salt. These slogans didn’t require much closed definitive reading. Others did not come so easy and some even had to be changed to get the consumer attention. As advertising becomes more and more sophisticated the need for closed reading grows. By the 1920’s, advertising started to promote the things that the consumer knows and doesn’t know. The Gillette...
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