When you take into consideration the context of the advert, it starts to have a new interpretation. The ad is from December 2003, it is taken from Q magazine which is a monthly music publication. The text “50 pence” could be a pun or a play on words with the name of the American hip hop artist 50 cent. This only has this interpretation for that particular audience as without the cultural awareness of 50 cent, this advert is simply presenting an incorrect price to the reader.
“Current ads reflect radical changes in our technologies and media, our social and economic relations, our sense of personal and group identity”4 This advert relies on social and media awareness; it is reflecting the importance that celebrities have in our society. Without the contextual information of where the advert is placed then an analysis of this advert would be completely different. The second advert also appears in Q Magazine so it has the same audience as the Mars advert.
It is similar to the Mars advert in the sense that there is very little text and also that it is dependent on cultural, contextual and product knowledge. It is an advert for Absolut Vodka which comes from a series of related adverts. The advert is on a white background with pink text and one image. The image is an iconic picture of the musician David Bowie. The text is “Absolut Bowie. ” “In order to make sense of the Absolut vodka advertisement shown here you need to know what to look for. Such expectations are established by reference to one’s previous experience in looking at related advertisements in an extended series.
“5 In order to fully analyse this Absolut advert from Q magazine there is a need for not only product and previous advertising knowledge but also quite an extensive understanding of popular culture, which will help to decode this advert. The image is taken from a Bowie album cover where a pool of liquid sat in the contour of his collarbone. In this advert there is a small bottle shaped object in the same position. This use of intertextuality is a common trait of the Absolut adverts. “Once we know that we are looking for the shape of the bottle, it is easier to perceive it here.
“6 This image of David Bowie is accompanied by the text Absolut Bowie because he starred in the film Absolute Beginners7 for which he also wrote the soundtrack of the same title so this becomes a play on the album title. It refers to his name and also the Absolut brand. This advert along with the Mars advert never actually states what the product is. Although the brand names are present, from looking at the adverts it is not at all clear that Mars is a chocolate bar or that Absolut is vodka. The Absolut advert requires a lot more previous advertising and product knowledge because it could be easily mistaken for a David Bowie album advert.
The spelling of Absolut is not conventionally spelt which is the only hint that this is not about Bowie; that in fact Absolut is a brand. This linguistic feature of incorrect spelling allows for the heavy intertextuality as the reader learns to associate the Absolut spelling with the brand. The third example is not reliant on the reader’s individual decoding as it is a more straightforward type of advert. It does rely on some contextual information however. The advert comes from Now Magazine, November 2003.
It would not have the same desired effect if it was to appear in a June issue of the magazine as it refers to Christmas and also the use of intertextuality is based on a Christmas theme as well. The advert is for Vodafone live phones. It is a double page advert with a photo of four girls together in a line, posing for a photo. The same photo then appears on the screen in the picture of the mobile phone. There is no confusing with this advert what the product or brand is as there was with the first two examples due to the fact that the Vodafone name is in the text five times.
There is more text on this advert than on the other two examples, which is why it does not require as much activity from the consumer; it is spelt out for the audience what product is being advertised. As there is more text with this advert there is a greater use of the language of advertising. There is an example of a rhetoric question “How are you? ” which adds a sense of personal involvement; it is saying that Vodafone are concerned in your well-being. This is also used as it is a very common opening to a conversation you would have on a phone. The line “Everyone’s seeing Christmas differently with Vodafone live!
Presupposes that everyone sees Christmas with Vodafone and also that it is different with Vodafone. There is also the use of colloquial language, “pop into your local Vodafone store… ” which is used to appeal to everyone as opposed to using very formal language. Also the use of imperative language in the sentence, “Pop into your local Vodafone store and choose from our wide range of live phones” is a feature used by advertisers as it is used to encourage the consumer. Also “advertisers use commands… because it will create a personal effect, a sense of one person talking to another”.
8 As is common with advertising language, the text is in the simple present and the language is not complicated. The use of the adjective “wide” is giving meaning without the quantity, there is no specific number; this is a familiar feature of advertising language. The text that stands out is the short sentence “Four calling birds. ” Advertisers use short sentences to make the language more forceful and also to make the sentences more memorable for the audience. “Four calling birds” is an example of intertextuality and it is also a play on words.
“Four calling birds” comes from the traditional Christmas carol, the Twelve Days of Christmas and here it is given a new meaning. The “four calling birds” in this advert are the four girls from the picture in the advert, and they are calling because they are on the phone. ‘Birds’ is a slang term for girls and is used here for comic effect. In the fourth advert there is a need as in the Mars and Absolut adverts for previous product and advertising knowledge. This advert is not selling a product however it is advertising a nightclub; in particular the web site address for the nightclub Fabric.
It comes from the student edition of Time Out for 2003/4. The only text on this advert is put into brackets as if it is an aside or afterthought to the image. The text reads, “check our shiny new website: www. fabriclondon. com”. The use of adjectives is a favoured characteristic of adverts as they can glamourise a noun, “shiny” is a good example of this. It is also very ambiguous and in this case it could be considered as a metaphor as a web site can not really be shiny. However, “new” is a more specific type of adjective as it is giving the noun a definite characteristic.
The use of the verb “check” is also fairly ambiguous as it could have two meanings. It could be read as an imperative, telling you to check the website as if looking for errors but also it could be a shortened version of the colloquial phrase check out, as in to take a look at the site. The image with this advert has no relationship to the text; the picture does not make the audience think of a nightclub or the internet. It appears to be a completely random selection of images that have been put together including photos and paintings.
The image consists of a mirrored photo of a flock of sheep, a scenic photo of a country side with an audience sat focused at a point in the middle of the page. This image is a painting of a statue with an ornate di?? cor behind it along with pink roses. In the background of this image is a graphic of a factory with pipes that look like they are leading into the ornate painting. If the reader did not know that Fabric was a nightclub in London there is nothing on this advert to tell them that is what it is. The four adverts I have looked at require the audience to be actively involved but that only works if they want to buy into that ideology.
The advert has to be striking for the consumer to decode it and in order for this to occur the advertisers use linguistic features such as rhyme and word play along with images. The most obvious advert is the Vodafone one as it is creating an aspiration to owning a video phone, having friends like the people in the advert and only being able to enjoy Christmas time with a new phone. The other adverts are more difficult to deconstruct as they do not have an obvious ideology so it is harder to decide why certain linguistic features were used.
They are more reliant on the reader taking pleasure from the fact that they are able to use their cultural competence in order to decode the advert and therefore may buy into the idea.
Bell, A (1991) The Language of News Media, Oxford: Blackwell. Cook, G (1992) The Discourse of Advertising, London: Routledge. Goddard, A (1998) The Language of Advertising, London: Routledge Myers, G (1994) Words in Ads, London: Edward Arnold. Vestergaard, T and Schroder, K (1985) The Language of Advertising, Oxford: Basil Blackwell Williamson, J (1978) Decoding Advertisements Ideology and Meaning in Advertising, London: Marion Boyars, https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/.