Semiotic Advertisement Analysis
1. Heinz Ketchup
Denotation: In this advertisement, Heinz transforms a bottle of tomato ketchup into a garden-fresh tomato, denoting that it is entirely made up of a natural ingredient, Whether Heinz actually changed the ingredients in its ketchup while this campaign launched is unknown, but regardless this ad appeals to those looking to eat better quality foods. The color of the backdrop‑Red is a very emotionally intense color, it enhances human metabolism, and respiration rate, it has high visibility and brings text and images to the foreground. It is used as an accent color to stimulate people to make quick decisions. The text says, “ No one grows Ketchup like Heinz” thereby stating that they “make” the best ketchup and no one else can compare to them. However they use the word “grow” which leaves the reader with a very different meaning.
Connotation: Ketchup is made in a factory and by any means isn’t “grown,” however the text reads, “No one grows ketchup like Heinz.” Again, the marketers transform a sugary condiment into a wholesome, raw ingredient. In doing so, advertisers attempt to assign a “healthy” connotation to ketchup. Not only are advertisers attaching a nutritional aspect to ketchup, they are redefining ketchup– perhaps in an attempt to promote a healthier way of life.
The advertisement doesn’t speak to a specific age or gender. It’s universal in terms of its content, however it is dependent on the social context of today with pressure on large food corporations to make their products healthier. However, if the consumer doesn’t care about preservatives or a healthier diet, then this ad is completely irrelevant and doesn’t speak to that demographic.
The girl’s features are very symmetrical, not only in her facial features (complimented by her slicked hair), but also in her positioning on the page. This symmetry is complemented by her forward stance, creating a closer proximity with her face (rather than her body) for the viewer. The advertisement uses color contrast between red shirt and black hair to center your eyes on her rather pail face, and more specifically her green eyes. What is crucial to this advertisement is that attention is attracted to the right places. In this case her hair is black for contrast but more importantly it is short and slicked, and doesn't consume the reader's eye.
Connotations: There are, of course, reasons why the creators of this advertisement want us to be caught up in the eyes of this woman, she does not possess the "male gaze," rather she seems to twist this gaze into a stare. Her forward posture, is part of what lets us know this is not a "look"' or flirtation with the camera. Her eyes signify a strength. She has no (or no noticeable) make-up on, has short "boyish" hair, and freckles. She is what advertisers may call normal, not a normal model but closer to the girl next door definition of normal. She is not sexualized; she is shown from shoulders up, no legs, and no breasts. The advertisement forces eye contact with her and your recognition of her simplicity or "plainness” in order to transcend its message. The message is built upon a system of relationships that are less familiar to magazine readers and therefor eye catching. She does not fit immediately into our code for femininity. Her abnormality lies in her apparent normality to the onlooker.
The basic [suggestion] of the message is that the speaker has strong will power and is not swayed by temptation. The catch slogan "find your voice" then reinforces this in an equally vague manner. Taken by its literal denotation, the phrase is actually absurd and ironic when a product is being sold which could cause one to lose one's voice temporarily or permanently.
Connotation: The copy really has several possible connotative meanings. It can simply be talking about making decisions about what cigarette to smoke, or it can be talking about the decision of whether or not to smoke at all. Since neither of these things are clearly defined as the "temptation'' or the "decision," however, it connotes that the woman in question applies this tactic to other areas of life. You could easily substitute sex, food, money, or a number of other things for cigarettes and the statement would still be equally applicable. The copy, therefore, in its vague nature connotes a broad, pseudofeminist lifestyle approach. By using the concept of making "choices," it is even hinting, albeit very carefully, at broader political issues.
The catch phrase, is printed in yellow, which symbolically denotes fear and timidity, and in a swirly paintbrush type, which is a sign of playfulness.
The ad itself is overwhelmingly pink. Not only are the model's clothing and makeup pink, but the studio background as well. It therefore functions as a symbol for all of traits of our culture's traditional female ideal, like innocence, cleanliness, and sexual purity. Therefore, in contradiction to the message we are being given in the text, which suggests behavior, that is not part of the old myth of the ideal female, we are overwhelmed by a color that, in its cultural connotation, represents traditional female roles.
Denotative: This ad belongs to the 2000’s where there was emphasis on R&B and hip-hop glamour. The ad talks about ‘black culture.’ The setting is entirely designed to project the message. The circular set diminishes the importance of all the other people, apart from the phone user; her clothing, and, her confident appearance further highlight her.
The set could be a trendy bar, but has every appearance of a private jet, (probably cause of the clothes of the waitress/airhostess.) A ‘dream lifestyle’ is being evoked.
Connotation: The “it ain’t where you from/where you at” message (pitched in a colloquial language, is about aspiration and snobbery, it makes the reader feel that both these people came from the same background, that it wasn’t luck or a series of opportunities that led to them being in different places and that the girl at the foreground of the image, is there because of her choice of the phone. The waitress is attempting to exert power over the phone user by looked down on her. The phone user’s gaze is however directed elsewhere, and it has no effect on her what so ever.
Due to the fact that it is a phone advertisement, there is obviously an implied speaker at the other end of the phone, a person (who probably has the same phone she does) who is also in a position of wealth and power. One has to notice how they connote that, the phone (aside from being a status symbol) will connect you to people who also have reached places.
Finally, there is a play on the catch phrase “where you at?” is a colloquial way of asking a person ‘where they are’, which is a very recent phenomena because instant communication is a relatively new thing. The reader who understands the joke is included into the world of the ad, and made to feel smart for understanding it.
Connotation: This ad relies on disruption. The idea being for a brand to break through by going into another category, i.e., this ice cream brand is applying the logic of cosmetics in its world.
It seems like a power play, the model is implying “When I consume this, I feel great and I’m sexy, you’re going to want me as much as you want the ice cream.” The ice cream is looked as a product that is sexual and sensual, which makes her indulgent and attractive. It is as much targeted at men as women – it’s making a statement about women who eat magnum.
It makes people believe that by practicing safe sex they could evolve into a better person. Even in the ad, women are frustrated by the pigs, the only woman who doesn’t have a bored/ disgusted expression on her face is the one with the human at the back, hence it clearly tags men as the ‘pigs’ who are alone/ unsuccessful at being in any relationship.
This ad (being a male product) targets men, but also sends a message that women (who are evolved) don’t have sex with pigs.
The can is placed at the center of the composition and while placed slightly lower than center, the straw leads the viewer’s eye up towards the middle of the frame. The droplets of water on the can reference perspiration and denote that the can is full of a cool, refreshing liquid. The can has a red, white and blue symbol – Pepsi’s logo – carefully centered to the frame.
Conversely, the largest and most noticeable text in the ad is the large text to the right of the frame which reads “the new skinny can.” While this text connotes that the can the beverage comes in is indeed skinnier and taller than other similar beverage cans, the word “skinny” also denotes the similar goal of reduction and attention to caloric intact which for many the end result being to become (or stay) “skinny.”
The next observable text on the ad is “Sofia Vergara for Diet Pepsi.” Sofa Vergara is a contemporarily famous actress known for her overall attractive appearance. Her association with this product reinforces the earlier stated connection between its use and the results of attractiveness offered. As an actress known for her shapely figure which is often the focus of media attention, the ad reinforces the idea that diet pepsi is a drink for those who are concerned with achieving and maintaining a slim figure themselves.
In conclusion this advertisement’s message is that diet pepsi will help you to have a “skinny” and attractive body just like that of Sofia Vergara. That is not to say that drinking Diet Pepsi makes you attractive, but more that attractive people like Sofia Vergara drink Diet Pepsi. The “skinny” can is analogous to the skinny drinker of this refreshing and cool elixir.
On a connotative level, gest that the colour red is associated with seduction, power and romance and therefore links these ideas to the fragrance, selling it to the viewer as everyone wants these attributes. The combination of signs such as the red lips shown alongside Johansson’s pale blonde glamorous curls, seductive pose and silky/sexy clothing could also be seen as a symbolic sign, as this image of Johansson could be associated with many images of Marilyn Monroe. Thereby implying everything
Although this fragrance does depict ideas of seduction and sexuality on a connotative level it is interesting to note that Scarlett Johansson does not appear to be looking directly at us, so that in this case it does not appear alongside her red lips and sexy clothing as if she is giving a ‘come-hither’ look.
The fact that the fragrance name does not include any capital letters, which suggests its simplicity and sends out the myth on a connotative level that its easy and simple to be glamorous with this fragrance. This lower case name also contrasts well with the brand name, which appears completely in capital letters which suggests that above all they are selling the brand and as such a well established brand the brand name DOLCE & GABBANA speaks for itself in selling the fragrance. We could suggest that the aim of the creators of this advertisement is to affect consumers into believing the naturalise the myth that will make them feel that if they own the luxurious fragrance the one then they too will beautiful, glamorous, seductive and therefore attractive to men, just like Scarlett Johansson.
Connotative: Although BMW engages this image of innocence and flawlessness, there also appears to be a significant sexual message in this ad. The young woman’s eye contact is directly with the camera, and it looks as if she is looking right into your eyes with a seductive expression. Her mouth also get a lot of attention as it appears to be slightly open, drawing your attention right to her full lips, “open lips are used to suggest sexual excitement or passion. Her shoulders and chest are completely bare, drawing attention to the fact that she likely isn’t wearing any clothing, and the position of her head is slightly tilted to the side, drawing attention to her long and slender neck.
All in all, the slogan “You know you’re not the first.” Is depicting this young women as a sex object, and it’s implying that like this young flawless woman, BMW premium cars are also beautiful, premium, and flawless, regardless of whether or not you’re the first owner of the car.
These connotations reaffirms the idea that women are sexual objects and are “new/pure” as long as they remain virgins, it re-establishes the popular idea that a woman’s worth is in her virginity.
It also directly links a woman to a used car, stating that she can be bought or sold, but because she is so beautiful/flawless you wouldn’t mind not being the first “owner.” There by implying that the men are active, they are “owners” they act upon their objects and women are passive and meant to be acted upon.
The target audience is clearly—upper middle class- rich men, who are looking for a vehicle.