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Denotation, Connotation and Bandwagoning in Advertising Terry Hong & Michael Wong.

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Presentation on theme: "Denotation, Connotation and Bandwagoning in Advertising Terry Hong & Michael Wong."— Presentation transcript:

1 Denotation, Connotation and Bandwagoning in Advertising Terry Hong & Michael Wong

2 ADVERTISING Describe or draw attention to (a product, service, or event) in a public medium in order to promote sales or attendance

3 Advertising is designed to: 1.Establish Product Superiority 2.Create a distinctive image for the product Ultimately to persuade the consumer to purchase the product.


5 What is it? “Literal, explicit meaning” “Factual” “Dictionary Definition” Denotation of a word/image conveys information

6 Types of Denotation (Images) According to philosopher C.S. Peirce (1839-1914): -Icon: Direct representation (e.g. Image of the car in car ad) -Index: representation by association (e.g. Group of friends laughing in disposable camera ad) -Symbol: representation by convention, (e.g. “Golden Arches” logo of McDonald’s) – Advertisers want their symbol to become indexical


8 Use in advertisements, consider: Portraying/presenting the ad to the audience - How is the denotation of the images in the ad helping to achieve the aims of the advertisers? -What is the image of? Multiple? Pack shot? -What type of representation? -Camera angle? -Image type/effects? -Non-verbal messages? (Body language of the model?)

9 Camera Effect: Sepia-Tone, Icon representation of band members but as babies (possible messages and connotations) Also Font: Antique cursive fonts – attracts attention but not so much so to detract from image Sepia and cursive perhaps normal for the time, or perhaps suggesting nostalgia

10 Camera Angle: Here the audience is put into a low viewpoint, looking up at the ad. Authority and Power given to Batman over audience. Colour: Black and Orange/Red Nighttime, contrast, helps it stand out Text: “The Dark Knight”, could denote colour or the nature. Juxtaposition of dark and knight (traditional connotations). Slight word- play conveying info about the movie themes


12 What is it? “Figurative, implicit meaning” “Emotional & Imaginative Associations” “Additional suggestive meanings” Connotations of a word/image create connections May depend on personal & cultural context, social mindsets of the time

13 Use in Advertisements: -Transferring/Creating connotations for the product -Diverting/replacing connotations -“Short-circuiting” unwanted connotations Advertisers want to make their product evoke desirable connotations. A product may become associated with a life-style or a quality.

14 Denotation: Jessica Alba using this skin make-up Also consider, angle? Looking side-on, seductive? Index Connotation: J. A. associated with beauty, glamour and sex appeal, transfers connotations to product

15 Denotation: Image of a waterfall next to pack shot of KOOL cigarettes (recognition) Trying to make the waterfall image indexical Connotation: Cigarettes -> hot, dry, cancer, disease Waterfalls + Green -> Natural, Clean, Refreshing “short circuit” – Cigarettes instead become associated with nature and cleanness

16 Linking Denotation and Connotation e.g.: Cosmetics ad featuring a female model Denotation: Signifier – Image of female model Signified – Female model Connotation: Signifier – the signification of the female model Signified – Beauty, glamour, sex appeal

17 Denotation and Connotation Exist Together Denotation: Hollywood – A location in LA, center of American film-making Cigarette – Rolled up dry tobacco leaves Connotation: -Glitz, Glamour, Celebrity, Dreams of Stardom -Death, Cancer, Dry, Sick, Illness


19 Same Denotation, Different Connotations Home – Both denote: “Dwelling Place” House But Real Estate Ads like to use “Home” instead of “House” Because “Home” carries connotations of family, security, warmth, comfort & love


21 What is “bandwagoning”? A wagon used for carrying a band? Political jargon? Is it positive or negative? Examples

22 The Bandwagon Effect It is when people tend to do what others do, without considering what their actions entail. This effect becomes more pronounced as more people adopt the same idea (also known as groupthink). For example, PSY’s Gangnam Style was affected; people danced to it because lots of others did as well.

23 Bandwagoning in Advertising Advertisers often “jump on a bandwagon” to appeal to social values, improving the product’s image. These social values are often emerging or resurgent, because most people like being unique. Statistics and superlatives are usually used to jump on a bandwagon.

24 Example 1: Toothpaste #1 toothpaste brand Recommended by doctors Use of superlatives such as “only” Weasel words are used to impress without facing legal problems “Triclosan” is a widely used and controversial substance

25 Example 2: Guitar Hero This advertisement appeals to the fans of the then- emerging musical video game genre As it piggybacks on the massively successful Guitar Hero franchise, it has a huge audience and causes groupthink.

26 Analysis Activity




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