Categories · Introduction to Communication and Media Studies

BCM110- Semiotics and signifiers in media.

Semiotics, a word I didn’t even know existed (or really thought it was just a misspelling of symbiotic) is present in 99% of advertisements. In fact it’s probably one of the most fundamental tools in creating a advertisement, whether it be for a brand, product or service the product being sold will almost always have a meaning behind it that you perceive from the context of the advertisement. That is the goal of an advertisement is it not? To show you a product/good and have you perceive it the way they want?

Old school advertisements like http://bit.ly/1OhsD4I are perfect examples of this concept as there it is perfectly clear how the company producing the product wants you to perceive their product. In today’s advertising it’s a much more complicated process to make it more difficult for us as consumers to discount the perception we first experience.

As a modern day example of advertising the image below is quite complex. It focuses more on the dinosaur and simulated graphics than the actual product itself, something legacy media advertising would struggle to understand, however the image itself can be perceived in a number of different ways. First and most obviously you could take it to convey that Panasonic 3D TV’s are great. This impression is given to us from the irony of the dinosaur being outside the screen and knocking over the pot plant, and secondarily by the woman motioning for it to go back into the television. Now this impression is obviously what Panasonic wanted us to think of their TV because now we might buy it, but interestingly we did not at any point think about how we might actually need a TV, we just know it’s of seemingly superior quality to its possible competitors.

This kind of ad does not tell the consumer that they will be better off with the product, but creates a want/need for the TV that the consumer did not have before. This kind of advertising is seen as more effective in a modern context because consumers are more “product savvy” than in the 60’s and thus will not fall for an ad as simple as “They’re happy because they eat lard”. In fact you will almost never see a product being advertised as purely “you need this” or blatantly talking about how a product is the cause of something much greater like happiness.

What does this mean? I guess most importantly we cannot be fooled as easily as we might have been in the 60’s, but advertising is also getting smarter, just look at apple, their ads are some of the simplest ever made and yet they are worth a cool $124.2 billion dollars. Just remember that they spent a somewhere around the $350 million dollar mark to make those simple ads.

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