Cultural Interpretation of Advertisement

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The advertisement we are analyzing is taken by O, The Oprah Magazine and it’s made by Nissan to launch one of its latest models Altima and. This car is designed only in a four-door version. Its size makes it a suitable family car.

The scene where the advertisement takes place is the bedroom. A father and his little baby are lying near a large bed reading the car owner’s manual.

The characters used for the ad are seen as father and son. The baby is very young but we know that he is a boy from the sky-blue color of his pacifier and his little blanket that is on the floor. I see them as becoming entities: the man is learning how to become a good father and the baby is learning how to become adult.

The ad has a clear allusion to an ideal family scene. The father is spending time with his child to teach him, to show him what things are important to reach happiness.

Most car ads are very masculine. They usually relate the car to an idea of a strong, competitive man, who enjoy speed, risks etc…

Instead, here we have a very feminine point of view: he is taking care of the family; he protects his beloved in a warm, clean, comfortable environment (childish object in parents’ bedroom as one of the pillow, the little blanket), in which the father is the one who has the power (the way he holds his baby with his arm and the fact he is holding the manual, which is at the center of the scene and is the focal point of this ad).

The ad emphasizes the values of cooperation and uncertainty avoidance. It wants to suggest the idea that buying that car means that the consumer cares for his/her beloved and (s) he wants to offer him/her all the best and by taking the right choice he makes their environment as stable and secure as possible.

The man here is in harmony with the nature. The nature represented here is fatherhood: he is not scared of this role.

The ad also shows an interesting reversal of gender roles.

On one side we have masculine values: the ad shows the idea that to became a “man”, the baby has to learn what is important for a man – he has to be aware of what makes a man a man, and he has to learn how to interact with other men by sharing passions or by talking of “men stuff”.

On the other side we have feminine values: gentleness, caring, intimacy. The man in the ad is acting in a way that we usually associate to a female figure.

The whole scene suggests the idea of caring and the ambience is warm and safe.

In this scenario we can imagine who is the woman who belongs to this family:

* She is a mature woman (we can tell this from the age of the man in the ad – Nissan doesn’t want to show a young man – he is bald and has gray hair)

* She is successful because she has the family that everybody would like to have: a devoted and faithful husband who takes care of their baby while she is obviously busy (she is not there).

There are different symbols used in this ad:

* One of the pillows is decorated with cartoons, referring to the idea of care and attention parents have toward their son (they don’t want to risk his getting hurt);

* The ring the man is wearing is the symbol of marriage and of fidelity / trust.

The ad contains many archetypes, but the strongest seems to be the “mother earth” one.

For an observer the ad is clearly pervaded by a strong feminine attitude. The father is not doing anything masculine except showing interest in cars, but he is clearly the “man” in the family because he has lot of hair on his arms. He is a regular guy (we can tell from the “normal” dress) but e is also a ruler, he has the situation under control (the baby is not screaming and the father is comfortable being alone with the baby). It is his responsibility to make life stable and secure.

He is a caregiver; he anticipates his family’s needs, knowing what will make them feel secure, safe, and nurtured. He is the loving father who cares for his baby.

Usually advertisements that refer to this archetype show a powerful maternal figure. Surprisingly here we found a man doing a very maternal ritual: reading a book to his child before sleeping (both the baby and the father are in underwear, relaxed, and they suggest the idea that they are ready to go to sleep).

Here I founded the most interesting idea. The father is so enthusiast of his new car that instead of reading a tales book to his son, is reading him the car manual. This idea is also explicated from the two word we found at the bottom of the advertisement, near the Nissan logo: SHIFT_enthusiasm.

If we focus our attention on who is the target audience, then we should not be surprised anymore of the choice made by the advertiser: here is represented the ideal man, the husband that every woman dreams to have beside her.

The ad is taken from O, The Oprah Magazine. The magazine sells many copies in all of the States, and almost the 80% of its readers are middle-age (forty-two years old) women, from middle to upper class.

They are the targets. The magazine is full of life stories, advice on how to take care of themselves and of the family, suggestions on how to decorate the house, advice on how to get over a hurting experience such as a divorce or a betrayal.

They differ from the other women for age and experiences. They probably have a family and children, so they know what it means to be a mother and they know how they would like their husband to be like.

In a non-western society this advertisement would probably be perceived as strange or not natural. The women may see in this type of man a weak figure, somebody who cannot protect them or, in the worst case, who is trying to steal their role as woman (showing maternal care for the baby).

I think this ad is very attractive and appeals to the targeted market segment represented from O, The Oprah Magazine readers.

The ad speaks directly to women’s feelings, but may be that, in all this emotion that comes from watching the object of our desire (the perfect man – the perfect family), the advertising message is not clear enough and it becomes of secondary importance.

The advertisement risks being a nice picture to look at and not an effective way of selling a car. I think that a more evident slogan, that reminds readers why that nice family scene is there, would be helpful to connect what they are watching with what Nissan is trying to sell.

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