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Language and the media - Shock Tactics: A multimodal analysis of Barnardos 2003 ‘silver spoon’ campaign.

Language and the media - Shock Tactics: A multimodal analysis of Barnardos 2003 ‘silver spoon’ campaign.

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An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards (Ireland) Competition by Joanne Burns. Originally submitted for Jt English and Drama at Queen University Belfast, with lecturer Dr Andrea Mayr in the category of Languages & Linguistics
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards (Ireland) Competition by Joanne Burns. Originally submitted for Jt English and Drama at Queen University Belfast, with lecturer Dr Andrea Mayr in the category of Languages & Linguistics

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
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05/13/2014

 
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Shock Tactics: A multimodal analysis of Barnardos 2003
‘silver spoon’
campaign.
Advertising is arguably one of the most influential and powerful types of mediadiscourse with;
“the impact of advertising interests and practices spread generally through
 the whole media system
” (Leiss et. al 122)
. Van Leuuwen
stated that; “
advertising isdeliberately unconventional, deliberately bent on breaking rule
s and defying taboos”
(152).This certainly applies to charity advertisements, which often deal with taboo areas of societyand raise issues instigating debate which in the case of the ads I will look at, is thedistressing problem of child poverty. The four ads (appendices one-four) comprise a 2003campaign from the c
hildren’s charity ‘Barnardos’.
This is the infamous and shocking
silver
spoon’ campaign highlighting child poverty which
was
banned due to breaking “theadvertising code of practice because it could “cause serious or widespread offence”” (Daily
Mail Online).
Barnardos wanted to “provoke debate *..
.] and establish this issue as
significant” (
www.barnardos.org.uk/media).These incredibly Shocking images such as these a
re arguably necessary in today’s
society. As Cook stated:Opinion and behaviour in the rich world are too hardened to the plight of the poorand oppressed for such ads [those with harrowing photographs such as these ads]to have any effect. Yet, if anything might shift this entrenched complacency, it issuch photographs. (228)The photographs in this case, certainly caused at the very least, major controversy. Therewas much press surrounding the campaign which worked in Barnardos favour, as Cook
 
2
points out
;
There is no such thing as bad publicity. The controversy generated byoutrageous ads becomes itself an extension
 –
free of charge
 –
 
of the campaign” (229).
Even though the ads were banned, the campaign was a success to a certain extent, asdirector Diana Green said; despite being disappointed by the adjudication
the charity wasstill pleased with the campaign and had seen an upsurge in interest, receiving six times thedonations previous campaigns have attracted and double the normal number of hits it
receives on its website”
 (www.brandrepublic.com). Through these ads Barnardos encouraged donation, made people more aware of child poverty and promoted the charityin general. This essay will analyse the linguistic and pictorial strategies they used to do solooking at some of the press responses from the time as well as quotes from the ASA(Advertising Standards Agency) and Barnardos itself.The main method of analysis will be a multimodal one using Machin, 2007. His book
is based on Kress and Van Leeuwen’s idea
s which in turn use Halliday
’s (1985) work as their
model. A Multimodal analysis looks at the way we communicate simultaneously through anumber of modes
 –
 
multi-modally 
, by combinations of the
visual, sound, language, etc.”
(Machin
x
). A multimodal examination presents much potential in terms of analysing theserelatively recent ads as
it is “clear that in society much communication through the massmedia is now multimodal” (Machin
x
). Furthermore, for ads which depend so heavily ontheir images to achieve effect such as these do, it is critical to undertake an analysis of howthe visual and linguistic elements work together. In analysing the linguistic elements I willuse Delin (2000) and a transitivity analysis (based on Hallidayan linguistics, Matheson 66).Upon a first look at appendices one, two and three, it is difficult to look at theseshocking and disturbing images which immediately attack the viewer. Each one is of a new
 
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born baby with an object coming out of his or hers mouth using the prov
erb “born with a
silver spo
on in your mouth” as a metaphor.
The objects superimposed on the babies mouthsare the
‘signifiers’
(Machin 25) connoting the babies future. The cockroach signifies poorliving conditions; the syringe: drug abuse; and a bottle of methylated spirits for alcoholabuse (www.barnardos.org.uk). The fourth advert (appendix four) in the campaign starklycontrasts to the other three displaying a happy, healthy-looking newborn baby with a silverspoon in its mouth as opposed to the grotesque objects in appendices one-three. Thisfourth ad, is comparatively mild and makes the other three as all the more horrific. With thisin mind I will analyse the first three ads as a group, comparing them with this fourth, non-disturbing ad to get a view of how the campaign campaign worked as a whole.The headline of the first three ads:
‘There are no silver spoons for children born intoPoverty’,
uses implicature to suggest to the middle-class readership of the Sunday pressnewspapers they featured in (including
The Mail on Sunday, Independent, The Sunday Times
and
The Guardian
), that they were born with
a ‘silver spoon in their mouth’
. As Davidsonclaims
; charity ads “
depict people worse
off than those who read the ads”
(87). Thisreadership would also be in the 35-55
year old “target audience”, who “
have more reason
to care about children’s futures being likely to have young children of their own”
(Yeshin383). The headline takes a well known proverb and turns it into a blunt, factual statementusing a noun phrase. It is an adage instantly recognizable to most people, thus adhering to
the first of Fairclough’s
(1989) three general characteristics of vocabulary in building theimage of 
the product: that it should be “
famil
iar and everyday”
(Delin 132). The Headline inad four is different;
‘If only every child were born with a silver spoon’,
again using

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