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Consuming Signs Lecture 3 Design as Commodity Andrea Peach.

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1 Consuming Signs Lecture 3 Design as Commodity Andrea Peach

2 The Culture Industry Culture is no longer appreciated for its USE value, but for its EXCHANGE value

3 People recognise themselves in their commodities; they find their soul in their automobile, hi-fi set, split level home - social control is anchored in the new needs which [the consumer society] has produced. Herbert Marcuse 1964 Victor Burgin - Possession - 1976

4 The consumers genuine needs are disguised by false needs for … this years model, the unmissable film, the must have handbag…

5 Semiotics / Semiology Refers to the study of how signs communicate meaning in society (can be language based, or image based) Semeion Greek = sign Comes from linguistic theories of Ferdinand de Saussure 19th century

6 There are 2 components to every sign: Signifier the thing that expresses the sign (ie: sound that makes up the word; mark on the paper which we read) Signified the concept which the signifier suggests when you see it (ie the letters C A T are a signifier for furry animal) SIGN = is the unity of signifier and signified (since you cannot have one without the other)

7 Signs and Myths French critic Roland Barthes Semiotic analysis of contemporary culture Denotation and Connotation: Linguistic sign Rolls Royce (signifier) denotes a kind of car (signified) But because a Rolls Royce is also expensive and luxurious it can be used to connote wealth and luxury


9 Advertising and branding of products: Linguistic and visual signs are not simply used to denote something but also trigger a range of connotations attached to the sign Barthes calls the bringing together of signs and their connotations myth

10 Roland Barthes Mythologies 1957 Myth, as Barthes uses the term, means things used as signs to communicate a social and political message about the world. The message always involves the distortion or forgetting of alternative messages, so that myth appears to be simple true, rather than one of a number of different possible meanings. Jonathan Bignell - Media Semiotics

11 Myth and Ideology

12 Advertising and Myth In advertisements, consumption is naturalised, in order to do this, advertisers make use of myth, attempting to attach mythical significations to products by using signs that have meaning to the consumer.

13 Advertising and Myth Advertising has a function, which I believe in many ways replaces that traditionally fulfilled by art and religion, it creates meaning. Judith Williamson Decoding Advertisements - Ideology and Meaning in Advertising 1978

14 Ads very rarely just denote something - they very often have connotations as well. Some of these connotations are immediately recognisable, but others are only unconsciously recognised.

15 Ads have to translate meaning from the world of things into a form that means something to people This involves giving a products use value a human exchange value Ralph - Cool

16 Golden, Sexy. Night-Bright First stroke on the new scent by Jennifer Lopez then wrap on the Miami chic charm bracelet Miami Glow - Jlo

17 Share my secret

18 The technique of advertising is to correlate feelings, moods, or attributes to intangible objects, linking possible unattainable things with those that are attainable, and thus reassuring us that the former are within our reach. Judith Williamson Decoding Advertisements Clinique - Happy


20 Ads and Ideology Ads endow products with a certain social significance so they can function in our real social world as indexical signs connoting the buyers good taste, trendiness, or some other ideologically valued quality. Jonathan Bignell

21 Advertising is about creating needs but also about making sure those needs are never fulfilled, in order to guarantee continued and escalating consumption. Let surgery wait! The only anti-wrinkle cream with BOSWELOX

22 For the body that bounces in all the right places Dont let things droop So now you can have the body youve always wanted



25 In case of hair emergencies

26 Limited edition Indulge your cat this Valentines day Tender Turkey Wild Rice Share the Experience

27 Act on Impulse

28 Ads get us to see our consumption positively, as an activity which grants us membership to lifestyle groups. But what ads are really doing is serving the interests of those who own and control the industries of consumer culture. Jonathan Bignell The perfectly balanced range

29 Adbusters 1993

30 BUGA UP 1980 (billboard utilising graffitists against unhealthy promotion)

31 When Im watchin my TV And that man comes on to tell me How white my shirts can be Well he cant be a man cause he doesnt smoke The same cigarettes as me Rolling Stones I cant get no Satisfaction

32 FOR THE LAST SEMINAR: Bring examples of advertisements which use text and image to generate myth What are the denotations and connations contained within the ad? Analyse how the advertiser uses myth to make meaning for the consumer Conclude by considering if we are really active or passive consumers

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