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COMM 3308 Chapter Notes - Chapter n/a: Catherine Deneuve, Chanel No. 5, Meta-System

Communication Studies
Course Code
COMM 3308
Irena Knezevic

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January 26th Readings 01/25/2016
Decoding Advertisements: Ideology and Meaning in Advertising
A Currency of Signs:
- An object from the ordinary world and a product are connected
- The object stood for a certain quality, and by making this object and
the product interchangeable in terms of this quality, its values adhere to the
- The intermediary object in representing a value which becomes
attached to the product is a sort of currency
- Currency: something that represents a value and in its
interchangeability with other things, gives them their ‘value’ too
- This provides a useful metaphor the transference of meaning
- Author looks at colour in advertising
- Use of colour is simply a technique, used primarily in pictorial
advertising to make correlations between a product and other things
- The use of colour is not significant in itself; it is the significance of
the correlation it makes that forms the basis of the author’s theory
- It is important to not to confuse the particular properties of
- What is important is that ads in all media make these connections,
through formal techniques, not on the level of the overt signified but via the
- Looks at colour in different ways, but in each case it is the basis for a
connection(s) unstated by the verbal part of the ad and sometimes irrelevant
to it
Case 1: Colour Tells A Story:
- The colour axis is the triangle of orange-gold, formed by the two
glasses of screwdrivers and the sun behind the trees
- This suggests a warm, natural, pure, light quality in the drink – since
it is linked to sunlight
- This gold colour is echoed in the golden corn, surrounding the couple,
also suggesting something natural, ripe, mellow
- The other colour connection in this picture is the white of the couple’s
clothes and of their bag

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- One would expect this white to be a reminder of the “white rum” but
in fact it functions differently inside the picture – it helps tell a story from
time in the past and future
- The white bag is already full of golden corn; this harvesting is a piece
of past consumption that hints at a similar action in the golden screwdrivers
being placed inside, consumed by, the white couple
- The golden sun is just about to set, just as the drinks will when they
‘go down’
- The sun is bound to set into the white sky, the drinks will
undoubtedly end up inside the white people
- The theme is “filling up” – consumption rather than expansion
- A basic idea of space and extensiveness has been made to operate
through the picture in a way that really means quite the opposite; enclosure
and consumption
Case 2: The Oral Connection
- “Beautiful Blue” is not the most important colour in this ad
- The blue cigarette packet merges into indistinctness in the blue of
the denim, and the blue shopping bag
- The colour that does stand our, poking through the string bag, is the
deep red-purple of the bottle top, that exactly matches the colour of the
girl’s lips
- These are all that is shown of her face: nothing else in it matters,
only the mouth – the means of oral consumption
- The bottle and the mouth are joined by colour as clearly as if they
are to be paired together
- There is a sexual suggestion here, however the connection between
the bottle and the mouth is parallel for that of cigarette and mouth
- The important word of the ad is “taste” – the theme of the picture
and the crucial element in selling cigarettes
Case 3: Connecting an Object With an Object:
- The colours of the cigarette packet are exactly those of the cup of
the coffee – white and maroon – and a hint of gold on the rim of the packet’s
lid, matching the rim of the cup and saucer

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- The assumption here is that because the containers are the same
(colour wise and qualities)
- Mild, but rich
- The cup of coffee acts as an objective correlative for the quality
Case 4: Connecting an Object and a World:
- Black, white, a touch of silver
- Shapes – rectangular, streamlined
- Connect the cigarette packet to what the ad itself describes as a
whole ‘world’
- The visual link between the packet and the world is exaggeratedly
apparent: literally everything in the room is black and white and geometrical
- However, as the two containers were compared in the last example,
here are also correlated objects, packet and the world, are in fact
containers; the parallel of the cigarettes being here, not coffee, but in people
(in the matching room)
- The people are the contents of the room just as the cigarettes are of
the packet
- The words can be read as relating directly to the people; they are
obviously terms usually applied to people and not things, yet here, in using
them about things, they are equating with these people
- The colour correlation brings into focus the link between the people
and the cigarettes that was implicit in the words chosen
- The packet of cigarettes is supposedly an accessory to the
distinguished, stylish world depicted, fitting into it visually by colour and
style; yet in naming the after the cigarettes
- We see that the world and the people are actually an accessory of
the product, and not the other way around
- Instead of the product being created out of a need in the world, it
creates its own world, an exaggerated reflection of itself
Case 5: Connecting the Object and a Person:
- The product is a whole kitchen, yet there’s a woman that has been
made to match it
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