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Semiotic analysis of three High Street advertisements aimed at men

Semiotic analysis of three High Street advertisements aimed at men

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by David Nugent. Originally submitted for BA in Photographic Media at Griffith College Dublin, with lecturer Siobhan Enright in the category of Modern Cultural Studies
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by David Nugent. Originally submitted for BA in Photographic Media at Griffith College Dublin, with lecturer Siobhan Enright in the category of Modern Cultural Studies

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/27/2013

 
Semiotic analysis of three High Street advertisements aimed atmen
Abstract:“By incorporating the techniques associated with semiotics, specificallythe idea of Myth proposed by Roland Barthes, the reader is equippedto Asses signs of advertising, begins to understand the signified, andevaluate how ideology is created through advertising (Chandler, 2002).In this essay I have specifically looked at how advertising agencies andclothing companies utilise, create, and promote stereotypes of Western male ideology (Dotson, 1999). On a denotative level each adhas been very similar – all three texts are made up of a singular imageof a man and a simple font, but the connotation differs in all three ads,each focusing on a specific idea of male ideology, targeting varyingaspects of society. The one common factor in all three adverts is thatthe male in the text is Caucasian. Despite the vast and historicmulticulturalism of Western society the ideal skin tone, in advertising,stills remains white (Frith, Mueller, 2010). Youth and physicalattractiveness is another common connotation, this model of ideologyis only different in one of the three texts, and in that case theimportance of wealth and power make up for a lack of attractiveness
 
and youthfulness. The older man regains importance and standingthrough the perceived acquisition of riches and taste – being presentedas a leader and a professional (Galician, Merskin, 2007). The idealnessof attractive youth does not need to be presented along side anassociation with wealth – the simple fact of being a young white, fit,male is powerful enough (Dotson, 1999). A further connotation is thatof the deduction of male identity to that of sex object. This lastsignification is relatively new in the history of male advertising and hastraditionally been more associated with the female body in marketing(Friday, 1996).Without analysis of advertising the extent of their effect and influenceon society would remain unknown. It is argued (Dwyer, 1982) thatbecause advertising promoted the importance of the accumulation of goods it encourages people to escape from reality, the utopian signs inadvertising encourage submissiveness of the viewer so that they donot question the extent to which they are controlled by consumerism. Through semiotic analysis of the myth surrounding advertising, we canbegin to understand how a small majority attempt to control what weassume to be natural, and see the falseness and ideology at play in thesigns that surround us. (Barthes, 1972)”
 
In this essay I will utilise tools of semiotic textual analysis to examineadvertisements of three high street clothing brands aimed at men. Thethree chosen adverts are further related in that they were produced in2011 and displayed in similar print fashion magazines such as i-D,Fantastic Man, Dazed and Confused, and GQ. I will be using the tools of semiotic analysis devised by Swiss linguist Ferdinard de Saussure andthe American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce – who both createdmethods of investigating meaning through the creation andinterrogation of signs (Chandler, 2002). Saussure argued that a sign(such as a word, image, or gesture) is made up of two elements, the

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