A semiotic analysis of an advert

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A definition of semiotics is the ‘study of signs.’ Adverts from magazines or television all have hidden signs which are the semiotic analysis of the text. The semiotics carry a message whether hidden or apparent, forming an advertisement of a particular product. The two texts which I have chosen to analyse are text D which is advertising a magazine for men called miller time and text C which advertises vacuum bags.

In television advertisements, gender stereotyping tends to be at its strongest because the target audiences are frequently either male or female. There has been some lessening of this in recent years but the general pattern remains. In adverts, men tend to be portrayed as more autonomous. They are shown in more occupations than women; women are shown mainly as housewives and mothers. Men are more likely to be shown advertising cars or business products; women are mostly advertising domestic products. Men are more likely to be shown outdoors or in business settings; women in domestic settings. Men are more often portrayed as authorities. As far as ads go, with age men seem to gain authority, whilst women seem to disappear. (http://www.genderads.com/)

In the advert text D, it shows a picture of a man lying in a hospital bed, reading the miller time magazine, next to him is stood a young and attractive nurse, who is trying to capture the mans attention, however, the man is to interested in the magazine to be noticing anything else. On the top left hand corner of the page is a picture of the main product which is being advertised, the miller time beer, next to the picture is written text which states “for guys who care way too much about football”. This piece of text means that the magazine is for guys who care way too much about football, and would give up any thing for it even if it means having young attractive nurses stood by the side of them, the guy would rather read the magazine than flirt with the young attractive nurse. The advert is selling the miller time beer however offering a free football magazine within the package.

The man in this advert is the sign himself signifying a code of interest towards the magazine. The women in this advert also has a representation in the advert, she is portrayed a ‘sex object’ as a sign of beauty, my judgement of this is because of the way she dressed and presented in the advert, the women is dressed in a sexy nurse outfit, posing for the patient, however the patient is having none of it, as he is to interested in reading the magazine.

On the right hand side of the page there is more written text which describes the features of the magazine, it talks about how the magazine ‘feeds obsession for anything related to football’. The texts which are written in the advert are informal as the advertisers is informing us of what is in the magazine and the features of the magazine ”it’s loaded with NFL facts, figures, schedules and assorted nuggets of football you cannot live without.

Its free in any case or 12-pack pf miller lite” The advertiser is trying to point out the benefits of the magazine and that it can be read anywhere. The target audience for this product are for males of any particular age, who enjoy watching football and have an obsession with football, my judgement of this is based upon the picture where a man is reading the magazine rather than a woman, it is clear that that the target audience for this magazine are for male audiences, also at the top right hand of the page in the written text where it states “for guys who care way to much about football”, the text mentions its for ‘guys’ and not for woman.

The message that the advertiser is trying to get across is the magazine is more interesting than women even young attractive women, like the nurse in the picture. This advert is also very stereo typical as all men are shown to be in love with football, not all men are not necessarily the same, some men may even despise sports and not have an interest in football what so ever. Although the advertisers aim is to sell the miller time beer, they are advertising the miller time football magazine as they have a good idea that this would attract the male attention. The image and the text support each other as the text at the top of the page where it is written “for guys who care way to much about football ” has an image of the young man who is reading the magazine in a hospital bed and cares way to much about what’s inside the magazine rather than what is around him or who is stood next to him.

In text C it is advertising vacuum bags, on the advert is a picture of a middle aged woman with her hands near her face and screaming, because of dust which gets everywhere, next to the women on left is large written text which states “dust clouds when I vacuum…dirt explosions when I change the bag, Its enough to make you scream” This quote is emphasising that all women get annoyed when they see dirt, which is very stereotypical to women.

The text in this advert is informal, as it informs us of the features and benefits of the vacuum bag, “forget about all the mess. Now when you’re vacuuming, Endust makes it easy to keep dirt, dust and allergies where they belong” it talks about how the product works and what comes in the package. Underneath that piece of text is the image of the actual product itself, the vacuum bags, this is to give the customer an idea of what they would be buying. It is clear that the advertiser is trying to sell vacuum bags as there is an image of the product on the page and also text which describes the product.

The target audience for this product is for women who are middle aged or mothers who are housewives, my judgment of this is because of lady who is modelling in the advert, it is clear that the product is aimed at women, especially middle aged women or mothers I can tell this by the image of the women in the advert, she is middle aged and has the dress sense of a mother. In this advert women are represented as housewife’s who are obsessed with cleaning. This advert is also very stereotypical as it is portraying all women as being housewives; this again is not necessarily true as a majority of women now have a living than rather spending time at homes being housewives. In magazine advertisements, men are rarely portrayed doing housework. Instead, men are more likely than women to be shown working outside the home.

The world of paid employment is not emphasized for women. For example, an analysis of the articles in Seventeen magazines demonstrated that only 7% of the contents concerned career planning, independence, and other self-development topics. In contrast, 46% of the contents concerned appearance (Pierce, 1990). In the magazine advertisements, men are rarely portrayed doing housework. Basically, the media world often represents men and women as living in separate spheres. (http://www.genderads.com/)

Overall, gender advertising is a useful and powerful tool in trying to sell a product to a certain gender or group. The first advert which I have analysed is very clear that the target audience is for males simply because a male is advertising the product, this is also same for the second advert, it is very clear that it is aimed for housewives as the model in the picture is posing as a house wife. By advertising specific products, in certain magazines or even on television on specific channels, advertisers are able to maximize their reach to an intended audience. They are able to do this through the use of such tools as lighting, pace, background music and stereotypes.

In the end it shows that sex appeal and fast paced advertising sells for men because men tend to be the more aggressive gender. The gender stereotypes used in magazine of advertising make assumptions about men and women that may or may not be true. They are likely to be true of some men and some women but there will be very few people who fully conform to the magazine’s neatly packaged feminine woman and masculine man.

Readers today are more sophisticated than ever before and are likely to be aware that not all of a magazine’s content does relates to their lives and likes. Adverts through out magazines, you can see that they focus on a certain gender or age group. This all depends on the type of magazine which is brought. When reading adverts it is very noticeable that advertisers use different stereotypes to focus in on these gender/age groups. For example, adverts aimed at men are usually fast paced and filled with action; where as adverts for women contain more feminine qualities. Family oriented advertisements sell for woman mainly because they tend to be the stereotyped keepers of the nest. Advertisers know this and it is the most powerful tool in the industry.

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