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My A Level English Project.


Millions of cars are bought and sold each year. Car manufacturers spend
millions of pounds advertising their product in attempts to attract the
public. With such a large number of cars on the market the decision is
often difficult. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that car
advertisments play some part in the decision as to which car to buy.

The aim of this research is to discover language features that are found in
car advertisements. Once these are identified the aim is to analyse the
effect of these features on a prospective customer.

In the following sections the data will be identified, analysed and

conclusions will be drawn from the information gained.


Before even choosing the advertisements it was necessary to choose a

relevant publication in which to find them. After an exhaustive search
"Top Gear" magazine was chosen as an appropriate publication. "Top
Gear" is a magazine targeted at car enthusiasts, and therefore includes a
number of technical terms in its articles and advertisements. This was one
of the features that it was important to study.

According to "Top Gear" magazine there are nine types of car. In choosing
the advertisements these car types were used to help divide them.
Initially a list of twenty-seven advertisements were chosen (three of each
type). The three "Offroaders" were excluded because they were aimed at
a different market than the other advertisements. This left twenty-four
advertisements to choose from.

Eight advertisements were chosen in total. One advertisement was

chosen for each type of car. Listed below are the types and names of the

 Supermini- Peugot 106 Independence.

 Family Car- VW Golf GTi.
 Medium Car- Volvo V40.
 People Carrier- Ford Galaxy.
 Executive Car- Mercedes S-Class.
 Coupe- Mitsubishi 3000GT
 Sports Car- Lotus Elise.
 Supercar- Honda NSX

The adverts were studied under the titles below.

 Graphology.
 Phonology.
 Grammar.
 Semantics.
 Discourse.

Under these titles the relevant features of the adverts were studied,
making it possible to discover trends that occured in some, or all, of the
advertisements. From this it was possible to draw relevant conclusions
based on the data. It was also possible to identify differences in technique
used to advertise various types of car.


This section will be divided into two sub-sections. The two sections will
deal with "Image" and "Text" Respectively. Each car will be mentioned
separately within the two sub-sections.


This section will mention the features of the images that accompany the
text of the advertisements.

 Peugot 106 Independence-

Painted picture of model/young woman.

Begins just below breasts.

Stops at top of legs.

Stomach is unclothed.

Tattoo of peugot on stomach.


 VW Golf GTi-

No picture.

Smelling salts attached to page.


 Volvo V40-

Picture of car.

Sketch of car in background.

Picture of shell, silver human and leaf.


 Ford Galaxy-

Picture of car.

Background picture of snow-covered mountains and blue sky.


 Mercedes S-Class-

Picture from behind car windscreen.

Muted colours, mainly brown.


 Mitsubishi 3000GT-

Picture of car on blue background.


 Lotus Elise-

Picture of car on yellow background.


 Honda NSX-

Picture of car drivng past.

Picture of young boy facing car.

Picture blurred, muted brown and grey, apart from boy.



This section will deal with the overall text and what it describes. It will not
analyse any of the data.

 Peugot 106 Independence-

The text describes aspects of the car that would not suit conformists. It
also mentions the price.There is also a slogan.

 VW Golf GTi-

There is very little text, only a slogan, the name of the car and the price.

 Volvo V40-

The text describes the cars' shape in comparison with other estates. It
also talks about the cars' performance. There is a slogan.

 Ford Galaxy-

The texts describes an increase in room and a more powerful engine.

There is also a slogan.

 Mercedes S-Class-

The text describes a scene at the end of a day. It descibes driving through
a city. There is no slogan.

 Mitsubishi 3000GT-

The text lists the cars abilities and extra accessories. It mentions only the
inside of the car, calling it the "Cake". There is a slogan.

 Lotus Elise-

The text is a list of dealerships. There is no slogan.

 Honda NSX-

The text discusses inspiration and the achievements of Soichiro Honda. It

also mentions the features of the car. There is also a quote from Soichiro
Honda, and a slogan.

The next section is the Analysis



The car manufacturers have used various techniques to attract the

prospective customer . Graphology is the most obvious, and Necessary of
these. The "Lotus Elise" uses the most simple form of graphology. It
simply displays a picture of the car. This may be a result of the fact that
the advertisement was found towards the back of "Top Gear" magazine. It
may also be because Lotus is confident that simply the car itself and the
Lotus logo is enough to attract the readers attention.

The "VW Golf GTi" also might seem plain. The fact that the page is blank,
apart from a logo and a packet of smelling salts, supports this assumption.
However, the blank page is in itself a clever use of Graphology. It would
attract attention to the text and the smelling salts.

The "Mitsubishi 3000GT" is another seemingly plain advertisement. It

attracts the attention of the reader very well, though. The picture of the
car is accompanied by the word "Icing", and the text by the word "Cake".
This in itself attracts the readers attention. There is also a logo, which has
little graphological effect.

The "Volvo V40" uses the shape of the car to attract attention. Aside from
the picture of the car, there are pictures of objects with obvious curves
that would be seen as beautiful. The sketch of the car also emphasises its
curves. In general the advertisement uses graphology to attract attention
to the beauty of the car. Although there is a logo, it is seems to have no
real purpose.

The "Peugot 106 Independence" uses a picture of a woman who has a

tattoo on her stomach. It does not show a full picture of the woman
suggesting that the tattoo is the focus of the graphological content. This
would seem to be true. The tattoo could be seen as a sign of
independence, which is the focus of the whole advertisemnt. The fact that
the person pictured is young could also imply independence. This would
suggest that the advertisement may be aimed at young people. Apart
from the official "Peugot" logo, the tattoo acts as another logo, and might
be seen as such by the reader.

The "Honda NSX" draws attention to a young boy pictured in the

advertisement. The boy is the only part of the picture that is not slightly
out of focus. It suggests the boy is looking on as the car speeds by. It
conveys a kind of childish wonder threough the fact that the boy is not
facing the camera, but is facing the car. The fact that the picture is
unfocused could also suggest that the car represents the dreams of the
boy. This is supported by the muted brown colour of most of the picture.
This use of graphology might attract the attention of a person who has
dreamed of owning a "Supercar".

The "Ford Galaxy" uses graphology to convey the image of space. The
mountains and large expanse of blue sky dwarf the picture of the car and
are very effective at getting the image across. They also convey an imae
of being up above the world and removed from its trials. This image of
space and freedom may signify the driving experience, catching the
attention of the reader. Certainly the brightness of the image is
eyecatching in itself. The logo is again of little relevance.
The "Mercedes S-Class" structures its image in such a way that it could be
mistaken for a scene from a movie. The fact that the image is mostly
brown gives the "movie" an air of age and distinction. The colours are
muted suggesting that the driver might be relaxing, possibly even partly
asleep. The only clearly defined section of the image is the Mercedes
emblem and a small part of the bonnet to which it is attached. This advert
uses graphology to convey the pleasure of the driving experience, and
perhaps also its ease and comfort. The logo has little visual effect.


The eight advertisements Have made very litttle use of phonology to

advance their cause. The "Lotus Elise" and "VW Golf GTi" advertisements
use very little writing and so can make no use of phonology. The other
advertisements seem not to have felt the need to use phonology to help
persuade the prospective customer.

However not all of the advertisements have discounted phonology. The

"Volvo V40" made heavy use of repitition to add emphasis to the
statement "Just like the big estates". The constant repetition allowed a
comparison with other estates, and it allowed for description of features
that went beyond this comparison. The "Ford Galaxy" also makes use of
repetition. This advertisement repeats the word "more" Three times at the
start of the first three sentences, and again in the fourth. This draws
attention to the increased space in the "Ford Galaxy", leading the reader
on to the mention of the more powerful engine, and so attrating readers
who often take long journeys. Lastly the "Mercedes S-Class" makes use of

There are five examples of alliteration in the text. Firstly "Your heart,
heavy" draws the readers attention to how tired they might feel at the end
of a typical working day. Then "city's clamour" further sets the scene for
the reader. "Slightly softened" adds the final touch to the story within the
text emphasising the relaxation the reader would feel in the car. This use
of alliteration acts as a marker within certain parts of text to indicate an
action or situation that is deemed important. For example after the first
piece of alliteration the reader is said to sit in the car. The last two pieces
of alliteration in the text are part of a small section at the top of the
advertisement. "Vacuum sealed vault" and "watched the world" are both
used to convey separation from the world outside of the car, which they
do well. The "Mercedes S-Class" makes clever use of alliteration for the


The advertisements have some interesting uses of grammar. Once again

the "Lotus Elise" has not made use of grammar. It would be difficult with
only a list of dealerships. The slogan for the "VW Golf GTi", "Suprisingly
ordinary prices." has no noun which makes it a minor sentence. This
draws attention to it."Golf GTi, just ..." is an unusual sentence. With a
noun, an adverb and then the price it is obviously different. This may
catch the attention of the reader.

The other advertisements tend to make more use of Grammar due to the
fact they have more text.

The "Volvo V40" advertisement makes interesting use of grammar. The

first few sentences have two clauses. An example is "It's roomy, just like
the big estates." However as part of these sentences there is a technical
description of the attributes mentioned in the last sentences, in brackets.
This is an interesting way to attract the attention of the reader to the cars'
attributes. Following the comparison with other estates the advertisement
reveals its true focus through a one word sentence, "Curves." This is a
very clever way to keep the readers' attention. This unusual grammatical
construct would emphasise the point of the article and encourage the
reader to read on. In contrast the following sentence is long, with three
clauses. The use of a rhetorical question after this sentence, and then the
return to the two clause sentence afterwards, combines to keep the
readers attention and help sell the product. The advertisement is also in
the present tense.

The two, one-word sentences, at the beginning of the "Mitsubishi 3000GT"

advertisement immediately attract the readers attention. The first
sentence adresses the reader in the first person, plural. This establishes a
form of informal bond with the reader. The advertisement interacts with
the reader by addressing him/her. This helps to keep the reader
interested. The advertisement continues to interact through phrases such
as "you'll discover". There are also other methods of interaction used,
including humour. For example, "ABS brakes go (or rather stop)". When
read the advert could be mistaken for a speech of some kind. Sentences,
such as "And now for the sweetener", are unusual in writing. The grammar
of this advertisement is obviously aimed at presenting the image of
interacting with the reader, which it does well.

The "Peugot 106 Independence" advertisement is written in the future as

if "Peugot" are certain that everything described in the advertisement will
happen. The advert refers to conformists throughout. It does this in the
third person, plural, implying that the reader is not a conformist, and so
will like the car. Once again the text sounds much like a speech. However
it is not attempting to interact but is telling the "facts" with a touch of
irony.There is also evidence of pre-modification in the text. For example
"range of metallic and pearlescent vibrant colours". The "Honda NSX" uses
the past tense to describe what led to the car being built. It mostly uses
the third person as it describes certain event. It does refer to the reader
once, saying ",you don't need to raise your voice." in reference to engine
noise. It uses very few grammatical features to keep the reader attentive.
In fact the text seems to be nothing more than a short story.
In a very short text, the "Ford Galaxy" manages to use grammar to full
effect. The first three sentences have no subject, making them minor
sentences. This has the effect of gaining the readers attention. Firstly the
reader will not know what the text refers to, and also the sentences can
be quickly read. This is followed by an announcement about the car. The
final sentence addresses the reader. This creates an interaction that will
be remembered.

The "Mercedes S-Class" describes a scene for the reader, using the reader
as the subject of each sentence. This form of interaction convinces the
reader that they could be in the situation described. This is a clever use of
grammar. It is backed up by the paragraph at the top of the
advertisement which describes a similar situation in the first person. This
uses the past tense, asif the scene has happened to others before the
reader. The main body of the text is in the present text emphasing the
current nature of the situation. There is a great deal of comparison to help
the reader imagine the evnt. This is helped by the fact that personification
of the car is used. For example ",it immediately responds, whispering to
you in hushed tones." All of the verbs are active, which again reinforces
the idea that the event is actually happening to the reader.


Both the "VW Golf GTi" and the "Lotus Elise" make no use of semantics to
attract the reader. They are in contrast to the other advertisements.

Many of the words used in the "Volvo V40" advertisement describe size
and performance. Words such as "roomy", "quick" and "safe" suggest an
image of the cer to the reader. There are also a number of technical terms
that might not be mentioned in a car advert in another magazine. phrases
such as "(0-62 takes just 9.3 seconds in the 16 valve 2 litre model.)" and
"(The V40 has SIPS with side airbags, driver's airbag and ABS brakes.)"
The technical phrases are all in brackets which allows th reader who has
less knowledge to read the simple description, which makes the advert
interesting to experts and novices alike.

The "Mitsubishi 3000GT" uses a mixture of formal and informal terms.

Formal terms such as "augmented" and "installed" present the image of a
car that is expensive and sophisticated. More informal phrases such as
"keeping the car glued..." keep an image of informality that will convince
the reader that the car is affordable and "trendy". There are also technical
terms such as "24 valve" and "fuel injected" that would appeal to the

Beauty and life seems to be the focus of the "Peugot 106 Independence"
advertisement. Words such as "pearlescent" and "vibrant" support this.
This emphasise the independent and youth orientated nature of the car.
Terms such as "metallic", "vibrant" and "pearlescent" are relatively formal
words, suggesting the advertisement is aimed at an intelligent person.
Technical description is also used. Phrases such as "The five speed
gearbox" and "engine immobiliser" would attract experts and young
people interested in a "racy" car.

The whole of the "Honda NSX" has positive connotations. Words such as
"Inspiration", "Excellence" and "Most" are positive. They are also abstract
and passive words. They tend towards expressing ideas rather than
actions. Once again there are technical terms such as "fuel-efficient".
"Excellence" is also an example of a more formal use of language. The
language of this advertisement is focused on the expression of ideas
rather than action.

In contrast the "Ford Galaxy" has connotations of space and freedom,

using words such as "atmosphere" and "room". This presents an spacious
image for the car. Power has not been forgotten with the use of the
technical phrase "powerful 2.3i 16V engine".

Many of the words used in the "Mercedes S-Class" advertisement are

formal. Words such as "clamour", "cocoon" and "hushed" help to
emphasise the sophistication of the "Mercedes", and also how expensive
they are. Technical terms, such as "servo" add to this. There are a number
of different connotations to this advertisement. The first part has specific
connotations of difficulty or hard work, using words such as "toll" and
"arduous". The rest of the advertisement has connotations of safety and
silence. Words such as "cradled" and "whispering" suggest this.


Overall the different advertisement have various meanings. They aim to

achieve different affects on the reader.

 The "Lotus Elise" does not seem to attempt to have an overall effect on
the reader. However, that in itself would produce an effect. The reader
seeing only the car and a list of dealerships might dismiss the
advertisement, or the reader might be impressed by the confidence of the
manufacturer, which acts as an advertisement in itself.
 The "VW Golf GTi" is an extremely clever advertisement. With the
minimum of words the advertisement implies that the reader should be
impressed by the price that is printed. The packet of smelling salts is
especially good for presenting this.
 The "Volvo V40" advertisement emphasises the fact that the car is just
as good as other estates. It also focuses on its major difference to other
estates. The fact that the car has "curves" is central to the advertisement,
and the car's beauty is its selling point. The reader would be attracted to
this if they were in nedd of an estate car, but liked beautiful cars.
 The "Mitsubishi 3000GT" makes interesting use of the adage "The icing
on the cake." The "Icing" is the shape of the car, the "Cake" is the inside
of the car and the ingredients are the various attributes of the car. The
advert is aimed at the reader who wants both a powerful and beautiful car
and has probably saved for one. The advertisement would attract such
 The "Peugot 106 Independence" is aimed at younger people. It
highlights, through a form of humour all of the aspects that would be
attactive to a younger person. It uses the picture to to emphasise its focus
on young people, and also on independence. This is a clever
 The "Honda NSX" focuses overall on dreams. The text focuses on the
dreams of Soichiro Honda and the image on the dreams of a young boy,
possibly the same person. This advert would provoke the dreams of
readers who may wish to own a "Supercar". The advert is effective at
doing so.
 The "Ford Galaxy" as a "People Carrier" focuses on space. Such a car is
not glamourous, and so would seek to attract readers who plan to travel,
probably in a group. The mountainous image is extremely effective for
this purpose.
 The "Mercedes S-Class" by its mention of a city seems to try to attract
a person who works as a proffesional. The references to comfort imply the
reader may have money and may have to travel far when working. The
car would suit such a person and manages to convey this.


Various car manufacturers seem to use variuos techniques in magazine

advertisements to attract customers. It would seem that the technique
varies according to the type of car being advertised. The "Peugot 106
Independence" as a "Supermini" placed emphasis on it's individuality and
how unconventional it is. The "VW Golf GTi" as a "Family car" focused on
being affordable. The "Volvo V40" as a "Medium car" focused on its looks,
which is not suprising considering a recent change to Volvo's image. The
"Ford Galaxy" as a "People Carrier" used space to sell the car. The
"Mercedes S-Class" as an "Executive car" focused on comfort. The
"Mitsubishi 3000GT" as a "Coupe" concentrates on both looks and
abilities. The "Lotus Elise" being a "Sports car" seems to have no focus.
The "Honda NSX" as a "Supercar" focuses on the dreams of people for fast

To succeed in advertising their product car companies seem to use a

number of language features. Graphology, in particular seems to be a
powerful tool in the hands of advertisers. This is not the only tool,
however. Advertisers seem to use phonology, grammar and semantics to
equal advantage. Techniques such as use of repetition, alliteration, pre-
modification and minor sentences seem to be common. In particular the
connotations of words seems to be important. Lastly advertisers seem to
prefer stimulating the reader's imagination, often using interaction. Car
advertisements seem to be very complex and well planned.