- An Analytical Reading. Illustrate your essay with specific...
An Analytical Reading. Illustrate your essay with specific examples.
In essence, any advertisement is an attempt by a specific
company to make people buy their products. Although this is
their main function, they do much more. They create a desire for
the product by fixing a cultural meaning to it. Advertisements
reflect the society we live in by implying meanings that are
attached to certain signs. They also reify these meanings and thus
not only reflect society, but also produce social meaning.
In this brief, I would display this process by analyzing the
attached Symantec advert. Thwaites et al. (2002) have proposed
functions of signification as tools for identifying the meanings
that signs can produce. By analyzing the advertisement with
these functions, we can see how advertisements not only suggest but
also produce social meaning.
However, all these functions of the signs are dependant on the
social context in which they are read. Probably to a tribal person
in the Amazon forest the advertisement would signify something
completely different, as well as to a person who lived 100 years
ago. What makes us understand the signs in the way it is intended
by the marketing company is the contextual function of the signs.
These signs are: the newspaper format, the computer, the Internet,
society's moral panic about pedophiles and notion of vulnerability
of females, not to mention the responsibility of parents over their
children - all these signs derive from the context in our society.
By having contextual function, the signs reify the values and
happenings in the society whether they are true or not. Although
the text in the advertisement says that "Stalkers could
use the Internet to contact your children", the advertisement
positions the possibility as something that all responsible parents
should be afraid of - this illustrates how a rare and frightening
topic is made to appear commonplace and inevitable. It associates
the Internet with the stalkers, thus adding or reifying the danger
of the Internet.
Illustrated in this essay we can see how advertisements not only
create interest in a particular product but use social and economic
mechanisms to further enhance their standing. They use the
fears, expectations and desires of the public to market themselves
as a need and not simply a desire. These signs, buried in the
advertisement, reflect social meaning to us. They borrow
competence trying to look more a public announcement or service
than a commercial message. Therefore, the signs in an advertisement
have various functions which combined not only reflect the social
meanings attached to signs, but also produce them. The Symantec
advertisement, that in essence consist of a living room scene with
a woman reading a newspaper and a girl using a keyboard, makes us
think that the Internet is dangerous to children and we are not
responsible parents if we do not do anything about it.