Advertising can be considered the core element of the modern world. With the growing importance of business, the dominance of giant corporations, and the increased level of rivalry, the importance of this tool becomes critical. The consumer society that is cultivated today rests on the idea of mass production and sales to meet all requirements people have and create the basis for the manufacturing of new goods. Under these conditions, it is critically important to inform clients about existing commodities and make them buy it. Advertising becomes a potent means employed by companies to continue their rise and generate revenue.
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For this reason, much attention is devoted to the investigation of the ways how it works and what elements should be included in an ad for it to work and influence individuals. The given paper contributes to the improved understanding of mechanisms used by brands by conducting a semiotic analysis of the chosen advertising, which affects people by appealing for their patriotic feelings, the desire to be different, and specific lifestyle.
The investigated item is a single page advertisement from a magazine promoting National American Spirit cigarettes. Prior to analyzing the elements that are used to impact potential buyers at all levels, it is critical to outline how this tool works. Any advertising appeals to specific framework knowledge that is unique for various communities or nations (Hall 163). It is formed in the process of states or societies’ evolution and contributes to the formation of specific archetypes and models of behavior that are appreciated by the community (Barthes 109).
Moreover, the framework knowledge is vital for encoding and decoding messages that are required to trigger the desire to buy a particular product. In other words, by seeing a certain image, a customer unconsciously starts to associate it with some qualities or phenomena that can be found in his/her mentality. That is why advertising reflects the relevant popular culture. The selected piece also has specific symbols that can help to explain what values are topical for the current society.
The first element of the advertising that attracts potential customers is its design and appeals to the unique identity. The name of the brand (Natural American Spirit) underlines the fact that buying this product, a consumer associates himself/herself with the traditional American culture that ascents to indigenous people and their culture. This factor shows that for modern society, the theme of Native Americans and race remains topical because of the reconsideration of the attitude to the history and acceptance of their unique culture, which is vital for the formation of the mentality of the nation living on this land.
Moreover, the brand’s logo and the overall design of the advertisement demonstrates the appeal to the past, which remains meaningful for current generations (Omi and Winant 34). Regardless of numerous changes in mentalities, patriotism has always been the core value for all Americans and its culture as it helped to unite them and move forward. The advertisement appeals to it by emphasizing the brand’s national character and trying to make buyers feel related to this element of culture.
At the same time, the analysis of the selected image shows that the American culture appreciates diversity today. There are several symbols that work at various levels. First of all, the advertisement directly states that the product is “different”. Moreover, the slogan proclaims: “We believe in doing things differently. That’s why everything we do is different”. In general, the word “different” is repeated four times, which is a potent approach to promote the idea of being unique.
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Unconsciously, a person acquires the vision that using this product, he/she will be able to emphasize diversity and differentiation. Today, it is a vital element of the American culture, as regardless of their feeling of patriotism and unity, they also want to remain individuals with their own features and style. That is why the advertisement tries to use these motifs and attract customers by the concept of otherness.
Many modern advertisements try to appeal to the feelings of joy, satisfaction, and passion. These themes are closely related to eroticism, which is also considered a strong factor influencing customers and their readiness to buy particular products. It can work on either conscious or unconscious levels (Lorde 53). For instance, in the given image, the bright and red colors can be associated with this sort of feeling.
The red dot close to the middle of the pack attracts attention to the product and the image on the background. For this reason, there are still some appeals to this part of the American culture that has always accepted eroticism as a strong power and element of people’s mentality. As far as the direct popularization and cultivation of tobacco use are not welcomed today, the advertising introduces some hidden levels to make clients feel desired and satisfied when using these cigarettes.
Another element is the theme of discovery that is essential for American culture. Living on lands that were discovered and conquered during a long period of time, and having a rich history, its inhabitants also show the positive attitude to opening something new, enjoying new tastes, experiences, or belonging to some new trends. The advertisement also tries to work at this level as it emphasizes the fact that the product has a unique flavor and taste, which can help to create a sense of discovery. In other words, the given product is unusual and has characteristics that differentiate it from the rest of the commodities. It becomes a powerful way to popularize cigarettes and make clients think about buying them to belong to a limited cohort of users who have the privilege to possess these goods.
Internet is another integral element of the existing American culture as people cannot imagine their lives without this technology at the moment. For this reason, the advertisement also considers this aspect and offers a hyperlink that can be used by clients if they want to acquire more information about the distributed product. In such a way, the image combines several ways to generate knowledge about the item and popularize it among the target audience. The combination of traditional means and the innovative technologies, such as the Internet and social media, helps the brand to become more effective in struggling for the attention of clients and competing with closest rivals.
The nature of the product that is popularized via the given advertising means that there are also several health concerns associated with tobacco use. A healthy lifestyle is one of the critically important aspects of American culture today. The deterioration of the health of the nation and the emergence of new problems precondition the growing awareness of the ways how to avoid issues in the given sphere. There are also many policies aimed at promoting the desired behaviors among the population. For this reason, the ad contains the traditional warning that the given product is not safer than other tobacco cigarettes and can also damage individuals if they use it. Moreover, there is a warning from the surgeons’ association with a list of diseases that can emerge because of smoking.
Finally, there are two elements that are also introduced to emphasize the unique nature of the brand and associate it with the traditionally powerful aspects of the culture peculiar to this state. First, the background is drawn as if it is made of wood, with the signs of corruption and time.
The given design makes the image look more attractive; however, it is not the main idea. The advertisers use the factor that crafts have always been important for this land and served as a source of income for the whole race (Omi and Winant 45). In the image, this background helps to make associations with this traditionally strong element of culture and attract clients by employing this framework knowledge, and encoding this message, for clients to encode them by themselves and make a final decision about the purchase.
As for colors, there are several symbols that become evident when conducting a semiotic analysis. First, because of the desire to create associations with Native Americans, the traditional shades and ornaments are used. At the moment, the crafts and arts of indigenous people are welcomed in the state, they remain a significant element of culture, and there are multiple works and exhibitions with displaying this sort of art.
There are also attempts to support creators who work in this sphere and who try to cultivate old and traditional ornaments or elements of art. In such a way, the selected advertisement also wants to benefit from this tendency and places the package in the middle of ornament to attract clients’ attention and guarantee that their love for Native American’s culture will also impact the decision making.
The majority of colors in the image are bright and natural. In other words, they were available to people living on these lands many years ago. It is another important symbol that is used by advertisers with the primary goal to link the product to the popular culture and ensure buyers that can be taken as the element of the modern lifestyle.
Altogether, the analysis shows that advertising can be used to determine the trends that are popular at the moment and the peculiarities of the culture of the target audience. First, the image shows that the Native American themes are appreciated by people in the USA. Moreover, the name of the brand and the logo are also symbolic as they create an association with the past and appeal to patriotic feelings, which are also a critical element of the culture.
The focus on crafts, aspects of design, and ornament also show that these motifs are essential for the culture. The brand also utilizes the themes of differentiation and unicity by emphasizing the fact that users of this product are different from others and can enjoy their otherness and unique nature. In such a way, the analyzed advertising combines multiple symbols to make clients buy cigarettes and generate stable benefits.
Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1972.
Hall, Stuart. “Encoding/Decoding.” Culture, Media, Language, edited by Stuart Hall et al., Routledge, 1980.
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Lorde, Audre. Sister Outsider. Crossing Press, 2007.
Omi, Michael, and Howard Winant. Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s. 2nd ed., Routledge, 1994.