Analyzing Advertisements Why Ads Matter Advertising Matters • The basic premise of “Cool Clothes for Identical Zombies,” and other works of cultural criticism that are about advertising, is that the way in which products are advertised and the reasons that people respond the way the do is significant, and can tell us interesting things about ourselves as a culture. Quickwrite #5 • What is the problem that Thomas Frank has with Old Navy and similar companies? (Remember, Thomas Frank is one of the men the author interviews in “On Sale at Old Navy: Cool Clothes for Identical Zombies.”) The reading is on p. 268. • Do you agree with Frank that advertisements influence the way that people think about things other than the products being advertised? (For instance, a car ad might make you want to buy a car, but it might also make you want an entirely different lifestyle that has little to do with the car. Old Navy ads might make you want to buy their clothes, but they also might encourage their audiences to see themselves as unique individuals who know what’s “cool” because they shop in at Old Navy.) Two types of messages that ads use: • The obvious surface message is usually pretty straightforward, and involves the audience doing what the writers of the ad want them to do. – Buy this product. – Support this cause. – Vote for this candidate. • The underlying message is much more tricky, and much more interesting. This is also the message that is more closely connected to our discussion of identity. – It appeals to the needs and desires of the audience. – It connects the product or cause to events, ideas, lifestyles, and people with which the audience already has positive associations. – For example: Beer commercials not-so-subtle underlying message is often: “Drink our beer, and beautiful girls in skimpy bathing suits will flock to you!” Things to think about when analyzing an advertisement or an ad campaign: Look at the ad critically and try and answer the following questions: Who is the intended audience? (What demographic is it aimed at? Teenage girls? Middle aged men? Single fathers?) What does the advertisement intend for us to think about the product being advertised? What needs or wants is the advertisement appealing to? How does the design of the advertisement get the message across to the audience? What are the consequences of the product being advertised using these messages? Questions for “On Sale at Old Navy” p. 268 of Mirror on America • What does the author mean when he paraphrases Thomas Frank’s ideas in paragraph 2, saying, “American business and co-opted cool anti-corporate culture and used it to seduce the masses” (268)? • What does it mean for a piece of clothing or music or any other product (or even a person) to be authentic? What do you think about the question of authenticity that is raised in paragraphs 8 and 9? “On Sale at Old Navy” • How do stores like Old Navy, Ikea, and Starbucks turn shopping at their stores into “experiences”? Why does this matter, according to the author and the people he interviews? (See paragraphs 17 and 18.) • What do you think of the idea that an obsession with brands eclipses (gets in the way of) any possibility for real cultural discussions/developments? (see paragraph 2325). “Advertisements R Us” p. 176 of Everyone’s an Author • In this article, Melissa Rubin is analyzing one single image – a Coca Cola ad from 1950. • The author spends a great deal of time describing the ad in detail, but she also includes the ad so her readers can see it. It was a good move to do both. • If either your Prep Essay #2 for English 28 or your long English 101 Essay #2 would benefit from images, you may include them on a separate page (or separate pages) as long as they are clearly labeled. Images may not be included in your required page count. “Advertisements R Us” p. 176 of Everyone’s an Author • What are some of her major points about the ad? – What are the underlying messages of the ad? – What is this ad saying about class (think about the different types of men portrayed prominently in the ad)? – What is this ad saying about Coca Cola’s role in American society? • What point is this author making about the connection between Coke and American identity? (see the last paragraph on p. 180) • Do YOU notice anything about the ad that the author missed? Let’s do some analyzing of our own on some ads for these two companies… Write down everything you notice about this ad. What are some of the underlying messages here? What is this ad saying about American identity? And now for a comparison of two Coca Cola ads… Source for both images The ad on the left is more modern, but notice how it references the older, “classic” ad above. It assumes its audience is already familiar with the above image, or ones like it. Also, note the emphasis on authenticity in the ad to the left. What is the significance of all of this for Essay #2? • You might choose to talk about how ads affect identity. • Even if you don’t choose to talk about ads, you can still learn from the way that we focused in on specifics tonight, and how the example essays made detailed, specific explanations of how the pop culture (in these articles, it was Old Navy/Ikea ads and Coke ads) influenced identity.