Compare and contrast the form and content of ads for the same ...

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Ed Vollans


051148403

Advertising Analysis


Submission Date: 9/11/06





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Compare and contrast the form and content of ads for the same product (or a closely
-
related product from the same manufacturer) which are aimed primarily at women
with those which are aimed primarily at men.


‘I think that I shall never see

A billboard lov
ely as a tree.

Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,

I’ll never see a tree at all.


W. Somerset Maugham:
A Writer’s Notebook

(1949) written in 1901.


Identifying Advertisements

As noted in
The Discourse of Advertising

(Cook, 2006)
,

advertisements if classi
fied
together as a genre, are highly difficult to define due to the range and spectrum of
adverts that do or have, existed since its conception.

For the purposes of this piece, ‘advert
ising
’ will form the umbrella term for a method
of
promoting anything th
at may benefit the advertisers

in any way. Advertising
involves making a product appeal to a target demographic (and sometimes
inadvertently other demographics as well), to do this effectively an advert must
comprise of many different elements, both to gai
n the attention of the key
demographic, and also to convey the elements of the product quickly and effectively.


Adverts rely on
being able to communicate with their

target audience through the use
of shared frameworks, these shared frameworks lie at the h
eart of all forms of
communication on the planet

(Chandler, WWW doc)
.

As Monaco writes
,

advertising
is the basis for ‘determining shared systems of values in contemporary societies’
Ed Vollans


051148403

Advertising Analysis


Submission Date: 9/11/06





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(Monaco, 2000: 433).

Within this framework of communication advertisers mu
st use
stereotypes and dominant ideas and values

to ensure every reader can understand and
interpret correctly the text

within

the target demographic culture, although it should
be noted that images can be interpreted in many ways other than those intended

by the
creator.

The approach that I shall be using for the purposes of analysis is

a
structuralist

one
;

that meaning is negotiated by the ‘reader’ of the signs and codes contained within the
text itself and the ‘cultural and social experience that has for
med both them [the
reader] and the signs/codes they use’. (Fiske et al 2001
:
50)

Indeed it is incredibly difficult to tie down the meaning of an image, as it means
different things to different readers. Being, as Monaco puts it ‘cinematic’ (Monaco,
2000: 1
52) I may be inclined
to read more
f
rom

a text than some one who is un
-
cinematic.

Unless otherwise stated the Shots mentioned herein pertain to the Gillette Fusion and
Gillette Venus Vibrance appendices respectively
.



‘Gillette, the best a man can get’


T
he Gillette Fusion advert is not

male


in that it
can be sexed
, but

instead

male
orientated
:

the product is aimed at men and the advert thus uses codes and
conventions that are stereotypically masculine
, when view
ed

through a western
schema: that which a
subject has learnt through experience (Colman 2001: 653)
but

it
is noted that these codes are

recognisable

to bo
th men and women

and
that the impact
of them differs

depending on the gender orientation of the reader. C
odes can
also
be
read against their int
ended meaning, but for the purposes of simplicity I will not be
Ed Vollans


051148403

Advertising Analysis


Submission Date: 9/11/06





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attempting to read feminine codes into the ‘masculine’ text, instead simply identifying
the amount of stereotypically male and female codes in each text respectively.

Many
signs are ‘arbitrary
’ there is no direct resemblance between a sign and that which is
represents, only a connection known by users of the framework between sign and
meaning (Saussure, cited in Cook, 2006: 66)

Within the ‘male’ advert, the
i
r are used many stereotypical male

markers, indicating
that is product is for men, and asserting the masculinity of the target demographic by
confirming how masculine this beauty product is.

The advert uses two male scientists (shot C in the appendix). The two key colours
used to depict th
e act of fusion within the discourse of the advert are blue and orange,
neither being predominantly asso
ciated with the feminine (i.e. p
urple or pink being
associated with the fem
inin
e in western society).

The colours appear in a circle, with
one half bein
g coloured orange, the other blue (see Shot I)
this circle seemingly
mimics that of the Yin Yang symbol: in Chinese philosophy the Yin is associated with
the female, and the earth, being cold and dark, the Yang is male and associated with
heat
,

heaven and
light. Speaking as a westerner, the colour blue seems colder and
more commonly associated
with water and thus contrasted and
associated with earth
and
the orange
contain
s

connotation of fire, i.e. Heat.

Supernatural and
spiritual elements
in

the texts und
er analysis here will be revisited
later.

The circle that the logo and that which the ‘fusion lights’ travel along has
connotations of power, the static shots used as the light travels past are similar to
those used in the creation of the illusion of spee
d and power in a film text. The lights
travel along a circuit (much like the male orientated sport of the racing of motor
Ed Vollans


051148403

Advertising Analysis


Submission Date: 9/11/06





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vehicles).

The clash of colours also creates connotations of explosions, action and
adventure (within western culture action films are

often aimed at male audiences)
.

Shot K

demonstrates the Fusion logo, please note the appearance of five stripes inside
the circle, these represent the five blades on the product. The icon here also resembles
the appearance of an American football (or a ru
gby ball, however, the stitches are
more commonly associated with American football)

all sports mentioned previously
being male dominated.


A beauty product, aimed at men, is difficult to make appealing, personal hygiene and
beauty being associated with do
mesticity and thus, men conforming to stereotypes,
may feel emasculated and thus may be less inclined to purchase the product.
Advertisers are constantly trying to tap into new niches to boost sales, encouraging
men to use cosmetics is one such example of
this (Brierley, 2002: 14)
In order to
counteract this possible emasculation the advert focus’s on the technical
specifications, such as how efficiently the product works
the visualisations of
its new
improvements, aiding in the speed and efficiency of the
razor.

In short this product is sold on its technical specifications more so than any other
aspect
.

Shots N through to S1 in appendix one
are illustrations of such technical examples.
The male model, not only fitting the bill of the stereotypical ‘male’,
but by also using
the razor, through the use of editing to create ellipsis, the act of the male model
shaving seems quicker and easier than it may necessarily be.
Being a beauty product
the choice of male model is important
;

the beauty product is being sol
d on how
effectively it does its job, by using an attract
ive model, (who looks as if he has already

shave
d
)
. Thus I propose that advert is selling not only a product but also a way of life,
the implication of the advert is that, rightly or wrongly, if you
use this product you
Ed Vollans


051148403

Advertising Analysis


Submission Date: 9/11/06





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will be emulating the model and by extension emulating his looks, lifestyle etc
, please
note how he is juxtaposed with an attractive female model
.


In addition, even the Gillette slogan, ‘Gillette the best a man can get’ is a
generalis
ation, not only is the product here ‘the best’ but all

products in the Gillette
range which leads me onto my second analysis.



‘Reveal the Goddess in you’


In opposition to the Gillette Fusion advert, is the ‘Venus’ advert aimed at women.

The advert cont
ains many bright ‘feminine’ colours (see in the appendice
s), in
addition to the colours the logo for Venus appears by lightening,
within this text are
numerous references (
overt
audio and visual, as well as suggestion via connotations
in
the images used
) t
o female deities
.

Indeed the image of a woman (shots F and F1) is
transformed into the product

through the use of visual transitions (see appendix) so
much so that the woman appears to turn into a bright shaft of light and then into the
product. The produc
t advertised is highly feminine simply through the gender
associated with its colour


luminous pink.

The demonstrations of the product being used are actual models using the product,
with little or no information about is, except for the title ‘battery po
wered’ and ‘water
safe’ (see shots G4 and J
respectively)
.


The images of the woman shaving her legs, and the woman running a hand along her
leg, are juxtaposed to suggest beauty and smoothness

(Shots J and K)
. Popular
western culture dictates that smooth
skin i
s

attractive
.

Ed Vollans


051148403

Advertising Analysis


Submission Date: 9/11/06





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Within these parameters it can be found that the model is rarely shown as being
whole, but appears to consist of hands and legs. However, possibly to avoid alienation
of the female audience the segmentation
sequence
of the woman is brok
en up by the
complete image of the woman, (shot M)
.

The images of the women dancing on the beach, with the sky constantly in the
background of every face in the text helps to anchor the text in mythology, even the
usage of the name ‘venus’ and the Bananara
ma song

that accompanies the text.

In
G
reek
mythology the Siren
s
, lured sailors on to rocks

(
Soanes
, 2004: 1347
), even the
phrase

siren song

, means something alluring yet potentially dangerous
, this makes
sense when looking at the location of the models
on the rocks and the beach
. This is
part of the emp
owerment message that is a motif w
ithin the text;

a
t
the start of the text
the voice
o
ver states that “Inside every woman there is passion and power” this would
tie in with the lightening bolts and the imag
es of the woman running along the beach.

The images of the women dancing on the beach could be interpreted as showing
empowerment and confidence.

The words ‘Venus Vibrance’
appear to turn into a
flash of light
before turning into the product. See shot
P
4

for a visual of the slogan
:

‘R
eveal the goddess in you


once

again this is directly equating the target
demographic with being a deity.
The closing shot being of a woman, laughing and
smiling, with a material draped around her in such a fashion that it onl
y covers her
front, leaving her back exposed, possibly to reinforce the ideas of smoothness and
beauty associated with this product.

Within this text, similar images

to

its masculine counterpart

are used, such as the
usage

of circles

around the word ‘vibra
nce’
, in the case of ‘Venus’

(see shot G4
) the
circles represent the vibration function (a new addition to the product).



Ed Vollans


051148403

Advertising Analysis


Submission Date: 9/11/06





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Similarities

and differences


The

Fusion


advert, aimed at men, highlights the key
technical improvements and
functionali
ty of the

product, displaying
it’s improvements via graphic visualisations

and through its association with power, even the name

‘F
usion


connotes power, as do
the visuals used.

Males tend to be more ‘task oriented’ in communication, seeing the
quickest way to conv
ey the most information (Wallace, 1999: 212)

which explains the
graphic visualisations and concern with technical specifications.

The

Venus


advert, equates its product with female deities, focusing less on its
technical improvements and more on its pract
ical application
, being ‘water safe’ and
‘battery powered’ are the total technical features found in the text.

Both texts use ‘gendered colours’ the ‘Venus’ text uses vivid, bright colours
,
especially pinks of varying shades and lilacs, these colours are

commonly associated
in western culture
by both adults and children
as being feminine

(
Greenberg
et al
1990: 1454)
.

By contrast the ‘Fusion’ text uses darker, more masculine colours to
anchor the product in masculinity, effectively saying that its is alrig
ht for men to buy
this product as it is overtly masculine.



Both texts also seem to have the same format,
with an almost introductory sequence
to the products. In the ‘Fusion’ advert we see two scientists in a warehouse testing a
subject before
the two ‘f
usion lights’ merge we see an explosion (or representation of
power in a fusion of the two light) and this fusion is used as a transition to introduce
the product
s name (and logo)

to the audience. In the ‘Venus’ text we see women on a
Ed Vollans


051148403

Advertising Analysis


Submission Date: 9/11/06





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rocky coastline, a wo
man running along the beach and
a bolt of lightening that
introduces the name and logo of the product, before seeing the product itself.

Both texts have sound tracks running throughout them,
one is used to repeat the name
of the product (‘Venus’) the othe
r played significantly quieter than the sound effects
and voice over, to the fusion advert.


Conclusion


Gillette’s marketing
strategy

is to steep its product in codes and conventions that
appeal to the target demographic, indeed
Gillette was criticised fo
r “reducing the sales
message to a minimum to appeal to all cultures through a ‘lowest common
denominator’. Advertisers have tried […] to keep the cost down through using multi
language packaging.”
(Brierley, 2002:

18
).

Both products are almost identical,
the masculine text conveys reliability and strong
masculinity as such the image of ‘colourful frivolity’ (Beaumont, 1987: 92) is
reserved for the feminine product as the product is in a domestic category, as such
women are comfortable purchasing beauty and

cosmetic products.



H
owever
, the ‘Venus’ text

still suffers from the same

commodification


(Byerly,
2006: 37) of the female form, displaying the female body as parts, as ‘buttocks,
thighs, legs, breasts and facial skin’ (Carter 2003: 122). Byerly also g
oes on to argue
that ‘adverts address the audience along clear gender lines and within the category
“women,” in ever narrower definitions’ (Byerly, 2006: 48
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9). The ‘Venus’ text shows
women in a western ideology, white, slim and attractive. The two adverts

conform to
stereotypes of gender, the feminine text, although citing empowering women, actually
conform to the delicate
feminine stereotype.
‘[T]hey [women in magazines and the
Ed Vollans


051148403

Advertising Analysis


Submission Date: 9/11/06





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media by extension] were glamorous, beautiful, feminine, and graceful


but no
t
tough’ (Inness in Carter. ed, 2004: 123).
By contrast the Male in the ‘Fusion’ text is
shown as ‘secure, powerful and serious’ (
Goffman, 1979:

45
)
.

Essentially the two adverts use the same styles, fast editing

similar to that of the MTV
culture
, associa
tion of empowerment and gender
-
specific colours

in order to anchor it
in its gender. The d
ominant values found within bo
th texts are in keeping with A.
dominant western culture and B. the male gaze, that women are seen as objects of
desire by the male came
ra (Blandford et al 2001).

The product is made appealing by appealing to the desires of a (generalised) gender
stereotypical reader. The advert is not only aimed at a specific gender to create a
desire to buy the product, but also a reflection of (again g
eneralised) contemporary
society.














Ed Vollans


051148403

Advertising Analysis


Submission Date: 9/11/06





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References

Beaumont, Michael

Type & Colour
, 1
987
: Phaidon.

Blandford, Steve. Grant, Keith Barry. Hillier, Jim:
The film studies dictionary
, 2001
A
rnold,

Brierley, Sean
:

Advertising Handbook,

2002: Routledge

Byerly, Carolyn M. & Ross, Karen:

Women & media
: a critical introduction
,

2006
:

Blackwell.

Carter, Cynthia & Steiner, Linda (ed):

Critical Readings: media and gender.

2004
Open University press.

Chandler, Daniel:
Semiotics for Beginners

[WWW.Doc] last mod
ified, 2001.
http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/sem08.html

(Accessed on
28/10/06)

Colman, Andrew M:

Oxford Dictionary of Psychology
,

2001
:

Oxford University
Press.

Cook, Guy:

The

Discourse of Advertising (2
nd

Edition)
,

2006
:

Routledge.

Fiske, John. Hartley, John. Montgomery, Martin. O’Sullivan, Tim. Saunders, Danny:
Key Concepts in Communication and Cultural Studies (2nd Edition)
,

2001:
Routledge
.


Goffman, Irving,
Gender advertis
ements
:
1979

Harper

colophon books.

Greenberg, Danna N. Picariello, Martha L. Pillemer David B:
Children’s Sex
-
related
Stereotyping
of Colours,
in
:

Child Development 1990, 61: 1453
-
1460.

Inness, Sherrie A. ‘Pretty tough’ in

Critical Readings: media and gen
der.

2004 Open
University press.

Maugham,

Somerset

W.
(
1901
)
:
A Writer’s Notebook
, in Oxford dictionary of
humorous Quotations: Sherrin, Ned (ed.)
,

1995: Oxford University Press.

Ed Vollans


051148403

Advertising Analysis


Submission Date: 9/11/06





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Monaco, James:
How to Read a film (3
rd

Edition)
,

2000: Oxford University Pr
ess.

Soanes, Catherine & Stevenson, Angus (ed)
Oxford English Dictionary (11
th

Edition)
,

2004: Oxford University Press.

Wallace, Patricia:

The Psychology of the Internet,

1999: Cambridge University


Press.





















Ed Vollans


051148403

Advertising Analysis


Submission Date: 9/11/06





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Fusion Advert
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Transcript



Introducing the miracle of Fusion, a revolutionary technology and a unique idea come
together to create…. new Gillette Fusion. Until now pressure could cause irritation,
fusion has 5 blades spaced closer together to reduce pressure with less irritation an
d
more comfort. Flip fusion over, a precision trimmer for those tricky places…. the
comfort of 5 blades the precision of 1. Gillette’s best shave ever in manual or battery
powered…..new Gillette fusion


It is noted that a similar tune to the 1812 overture

is played in the background; it has
resonances of the military and masculinity through its military association.


Venus Advert
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Transcript.


Throughout the Text the ‘Bananarama’ song: ‘Venus’ is playing although it is an
edited version, only that which i
s in
bold

is played. Bananarama was an all female
trio who released the song in 1986. (www.bananarama.co.uk)



Inside every woman there is passion and power, so turn it on, with new Venus
Vibrance… from Gillette.

It gently exfoliates helping your skin be s
oft and luminous, revealing a more radiant
you… new Venus Vibrance, reveal the goddess in you.





Goddess on the mountain top

Burning like a silver flame

The summit of beauty and love

And Venus was her name


She's got it

Yeah, baby, she's got it

I
'm your Venus, I'm your fire

At your desire

Well, I'm your Venus, I'm your fire


At your desire


Her weapons were her crystal eyes

Making every man a man

Black as the dark night she was

Got what no
-
one else had

Wa!


She's got it


Yeah, baby, she's
got it

I'm your Venus, I'm your fire

At your desire

Well, I'm your Venus, I'm your fire

At your desire


Goddess on the mountain top

Burning like a silver flame

The summit of beauty and love

And Venus was her name


She's got it

Yeah, baby, she's g
ot it

I'm your Venus, I'm your fire

At your desire

Well, I'm your Venus, I'm your fire

At your desire

Ed Vollans


051148403

Advertising Analysis


Submission date: 9/11/06


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