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University of Massachusetts Amherst
COMM 287
Sut Jhally

Lecture 1 How ads work - Older strategy – USP (Unique Selling Proposition). Known as the hard sell. Made famous by Rosser Reeves. - Newer Strategy – Consumer based rather than production based. Tony Schwartz and “resonance” theory of communication - Info about audience and gear ads towards them so the ads resonate (recognize) - Tony Schwartz produced LBJ’s commercial with the nuclear bombs. - Ad doesn’t mention competition or who has nuclear weapons. Goes for soft sell to deep sell. - Finds out what is in consumers minds and how ads can envoke them. Partipulation – audience participates in their own manipulation. Semiology – study of sign/meaning. How is meaning made? How do ads work? A sign is anything that has a meaning. A sign is made up of two things: 1. signifier – the carrier of the meaning 2. signified – the meaning “A Diamond is Forever” The signifier in this case has nothing, however what is signified is everlasting love. How do ads work? 1. Transfer of meaning. 2. Requires us to do more 3. We need to access to reference systems to complete the means. (code of popular culture. Lecture 2 Advertising is a challenge of propaganda. - Must decipher a code from an advertisement. Create meaning for a product. Must know what the symbols in an ad mean or it will make no sense. Some ads can not be shown because their message can remind us of devastating or unfortunate past events. - Some ads will use messages that change your self-image so you get the product. Levitra and Viagra use “upper class” individuals so people using the product will feel important. You can change the nature of the product. - A product can go from being tough to being a comedy to a lifestyle depending on the message the ad portrays. Some ads don’t even say what they do because of the nature of the product. - Miller lite got tough athletes to endorse lite beer because lite beer was once considered a “girly” drink. Change the connotation from weak to manly. 4 FORMATS THAT OPERATE IN ADVERTISING 1. The product information format – product equals information, focus on what the product does. Question? What does the product do? 2. The product image format – the product is a symbol and is portrayed through a setting/ different context Question? What does it mean to use this product? 3. The personalized format – product equals the person. Direct relationship and person is changed by the product. Question? How can I become happy through consumption? 4. The lifestyle format – person, product and setting are linked by some lifestyle setting. Group identity and lifestyle setting Question? Who is the person I become in the process of consumption? Who are the other consumers like me? Lecture 3 If you have control of the media you can tell your story even if it has no reality. Changes in business – GLOBALIZATION. A product has a different meaning in different segments of the world. BRANDING – making the logo mean something. Nike’s meaning is sports. MEDIA – now operating on a global scale. MTV and ESPN are examples. The media needs to be as large as the business companies they deal with. Audiences can become split more and more when there are too many choices. Audiences are seen as resistive to advertisements (young people). They have cynical thoughts about the world and they believe they’re ad savvy (not affected by ads). Response to problems with audience. - Benetone clothing creates a new ad campaign - Shock advertising (makes people view crazy images) - No use of clothes in the actual ads. - The use ads that portray the news no the products. 1. Emotional impact – generating huge amount of controversy through questionable ads. Lure you toward the ads through emotion. Using the power of the media to get points across. This makes you affected whether you want to be or not. They get you to not change the channel and usually tell you nothing about the product. 2. Self-Referential – the world of ads are referenced in the ads. Discussion about ads with the ads itself. Mocks ads in an ad and uses other lifestyle ads. 3. Unusual/Unexpected/Surprise- drawn in by a crazy or controversial ad and unexpected transformation occur. 4. Technique – difficulty in making ads, being attracted by a radically computerized ad. Also you marvel at the technique. 5. Humor (cruel) – using crude humor to get attention. Lecture 4 Stages of advertising: 1. Idolatry (Utility) 2. Iconology (product symbols) 3. Narcissism (personalization) 5. 4. Totenism (lifestyle) th 5 stage of advertising? - “saturnalia” - Anchrend – Roman festival - Unrestricted celebration – focus on sensual experiences switching roles, mashs, playfulness The Power of Advertising is Cultural. *Culture is the place where society tells stories about itself. What are the central stories that advertising as a system spills for the society? Central Stories 1. Stories about happiness – products and consumption will make us happy -In fact, people are encouraged to have a deep, intimate, and emotional relationship with things Marx Quote #1 “If happiness comes from products then more happiness will come from even more products.” -Even political freedom is connected to the spread of the market and more access to the “immense collection of commodities” -Wendy’s-----no choice, no fun -Advertising is the major expression of this story that equates happiness with things. -Is it true? -Does happiness come from material things? -Does more happiness come from more material things? -Are we as a society, happier, less happy or just as happy as the people 50 years ago? -Incredible cost to economic growth and in fact we are less happy = big trouble Lecture 5 -Where are we in terms of happiness? -More things, more wealth -Is this true? -Are we happier than 50 years ago? -Happiness- subjective well being -Richard Easterlin -Works with happiness -mether analysis- works with research already done and puts it together, it’s about happiness -He asks the question, “Is there a positive relationship between income and happiness? 1. Within a country 2. Between countries 3. overtime in a single country 1.) within a country: -Yes there is a positive relationship -The wealthier you are the more likely you are to report yourself as happy -Living in poverty is an exception 2.) between countries -Is it true that richer countries are happier than poorer ones? -Conventional wisdom says richer is happier - Richer countries are not happier than poorer ones (above a certain level of poverty) 3.) Over time in a single country -Has the US become happier as it has become richer? -No, the level of happiness has not gotten higher over time. -Marriages play a factor, jobs play a factor, financial situation, residence. Rapid rise of depression. - people born after 1945 are 10 times as likely to suffer from depression than those born 50 yea
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