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Ad Analysis

"Ad Analysis" was written by Joseph M. Moxley

Advertisements comprise thirty percent of the material aired on television, and many of us will view more than two million commercials in our lifetimes.  The A. C. Nielson Company reports that, by the age of sixty-five, the average U.S. citizen will have spent nine years of his or her life watching television—twenty-eight hours a week, two months a year. And in one year, the average youth will spend nearly twice as many hours in front of the tube (fifteen hundred hours) as he or she spends at school (nine hundred hours).[1] We may turn the box off eventually, but the advertisements remain. We are surrounded by them: they cover billboards, cereal boxes, food wrappers, bathroom stalls, tee shirts, and tennis shoes. They seep into our music, our newscasts, and our conversations. We recognize corporate logos and hum jingles ("Ba Da Ba Ba Ba"). In short, advertisements inform every aspect of our lives. Yet we often give them very little thought. We may make aesthetic judgments about them (e.g., "That commercial was funny" or "That commercial was stupid") or view them as innocent means to purchasing ends, but we rarely acknowledge them as messages that require critical attention.ad analysis


Advertisements, however, do more than entertain and sell more than just products. They suggest standards of normalcy, of coolness, of sexiness, of happiness, and so on—standards that shape the way that we view and interpret the world.  They also serve the profit-driven interests of the corporations that create them. As cultural critic Naomi Klein explains, "Quite simply, every company with a powerful brand is attempting to develop a relationship with consumers that resonates so completely with their sense of self that they will aspire, or at least consent, to be serfs under these feudal brandlords" (149). [2]  In other words, advertisements are hardly innocent means to purchasing ends and, more often than not, hardly true reflections of our senses of self. Instead, they are a powerful force in creating our senses of self. Therefore, advertisements do require a critical eye.


Whenever you analyze an ad, it may be useful to ask yourself some questions:

  • Who appears in the ad? A celebrity or someone well known? An unfamiliar figure? What are the expressions of the people featured in the ad?

  • What is the setting of the ad, and what does it suggest about the message?

  • Who is the audience for the ad, and how do you know?

  • How are language and conversation used in the ad? What, if anything, do the people featured in the ad say? In print advertisements, are there conversation bubbles? For commercials, consider any conversations that might take place.
  • In what ways does the ad attempt to manipulate the consumer into buying the particular product it sells? On what emotions and desires does the ad play? In other words, how is pathos used?

  • Consider issues such as race, ethnicity, gender, class, and sexuality. In what ways, if any, are they present in the ad? What does their presence in or absence from the ad suggest about the message?

[1] "Television & Health." The Sourcebook for Teaching Science. N.p., 2007. Web. 2 February 2012. See http://www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&;health
[2] Klein, Naomi. No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs. New York: Picador, 2009. Print.

 

Language for Analyzing Ads

"Language for Analyzing Ads" was written by "Memos" was written by Jennifer Yirinec 

Advertising executives and marketing experts more than likely hope that we remain oblivious to the underlying messages that ads contain and that we perceive their work purely from entertainment and consumerist perspectives rather than for the purpose of critical assessment.

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Analyzing Ads: Gender

"Analyzing Ads: Gender" was written by Angela Eward-Mangione, Emma Brown, and Susan Gail Taylor.

We need to be aware of how advertisers appeal to us, and we should think critically about the persuasive messages we encounter to ensure we are savvy, not passive, consumers. Because consumers purchase products with which they identify, it is important to examine the subtexts of advertisements as well as the role those subtexts play in determining what products men and women choose to associate with their personal identities.

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Analyzing Ads: Race

"Analyzing Ads: Race" was written by Jessica Masari Eberhard, Sam Corbett, and Susan Gail Taylor.

Typically, the first thing we look for in a photograph is ourselves. Advertisers recognize this fact and use it to their advantage. Because of this, we can learn a lot about a company’s target customer base by observing the people featured in its advertisements.

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Analyzing Ads: Socioeconomic Status

"Analyzing Ads: Socioeconomic Status" was written by Susan Taylor and Mary Kay Madden.

To what social class do you belong? How do you know? Can others tell by how you talk, dress, and act? By how much money you have? By your level of education? By your occupation? Despite the presumed cultural ideal of social equality in America, key markers such as income and education are often used for social classification.

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Writing Commons Open Text

2013 Aaron Swartz Best Webtext Award

The Aaron Swartz Best Webtext Award 2013

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