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Semiotics Influences in Advertisement


The purpose of the advertisement is to convince and to inform buyers in order to purchase goods and services and to interact with customers into a culture of utility. Ads have adopted the use of semiotics to offer goods and services with meaningful experiences whose main aim is to promote consumption. Semiotics is an important aspect of ads services since it provides makeup on how signs are meaningful in a given environment. Marketing communication has, therefore, adopted the use of semiotics as an alternative approach to convey marketing information. This paper analyses the influence and meanings of semiotics in the advertisement (ads) services.

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Impacts of Semiotics in ads

The media uses adverts in every aspect of everyday life to infiltrate human conscious or subconscious in order to inject an idea or a thought in people’s heads. Theorists among Barthes and Brierley and many others have broken down the media analysis into terms which include codes, signs, language, typography and context. This essay analyzes the Nivea advert and back up relevant facts by referring to various theorists.

Sebeok opines, a sign is said to be an iconic sign when there is a topological similarity between a signifier, and it denotes (Sebeok, 2001, p. 50). This particular Nivea advert would be initially analyzed in terms of signifier and signified. Iconic signs are widely used in the field of media and advertising in order to show the targeted consumers with information concerning what is being sold or what should be bought. Besides that, the iconic sign that stands out most in this advert is obviously the woman who is generally shown to be an older aged woman, even though her age is not specified. The lady’s face shows no visible wrinkles which portray an idea that the product she uses is actually benefiting her. The second most important iconic sign is the product itself which contains many signs that shows the effectiveness of the product.

The complete opposite of the iconic signs is the indexical sign which according to Sebeok it is said to be an indexical sign insofar as its signifier is contiguous with its signified (Sebeok, 2001, p. 53). The title that is inserted in the top of the image is obviously trying to create a relation between the product and the consumers. The language and fonts used are also trying to stir up a social myth; Chandler claims that such language and fonts are utilized in order to associate the product with a certain myth or fable (Chandler 2002, p.143).

Brierley asserts that this advert uses the present format in order to speak directly with the consumers, although there is no direct communication with the audience (Brierley 2002, p.174). This method of advertising enables the advert to reach the audience in a more personal way. But the theorist Bignell still argues that adverts do not directly promote product sale; rather, they create a form of satire by actively involving the consumers (Bignell 2002, p. 31).

Beasley & Danesi viewed that in order to determine the targeted consumers of this advert; this can be clearly noted with the signs that are used (Beasley & Denesi 2000). The product explicitly portrays a woman of an older age which directly portrays that this product is to be used by older women or post-menopause women. The use of the word “Age” in the product also tends to show how the consumers of the product are trying to get attracted.

Cook & Crawford affirm that the use of metaphors in the commercial ads are persuasive and powerful devices that not only enhance the advertisement but also widen the implication of textual and visual information, thus builds multi-levelled features of interpretation (Cook & Crawford 2008, p.14). “The visual culture of the advertisement is comprised of allegorical coding of delight, fragility, victory, gorgeousness and femininity” (Sebeok, 2001, p.5). Such allegory coding targets hard-working women who can at least get considerable income to take care of their bodily beauty.

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Daniel opines that the advertisement aims at cultural transformation based on the social supposition that portrays a portrait of a smooth-skinned and slim lady whose facial outlook is gorgeousness (Daniel, 2007, p. 47). “The social models and targets provided by media codes (delight, beauty, and financial achievement) are incorporated in the ads in order to build a positive implication within the Nivea products and the information conveyed” (Paramentier, 1994, p. 6).

Unsworth declares that the products are made in order to accomplish an exceptional and particular effect on the advertisement (Unsworth, 1999, p.17). “This is achieved through the issue of textual levels such as words or phrase arrangement transformation; idioms, sentences or proverbs transformation; spelling transformation (orthographic aspect); phonetic aspect (pronunciation, alliteration, rhyming); lexical and morphological aspects” (Unsworth, 1999, p.19). All these semiolinguistic interpretations are used in order to promote the relevance of the product to the target group.

Moreover, Beasley & Danesi view that the ad is meant to convey (encode) information to women who must decode the implication using the significant codes (Beasley & Denesi, 2000, p.10). “The Decoded information comprises of many stages such as understanding, identification, evaluation and interpretation” (Sebeok& Danesi, 2000, p. 4). The information conveyed and targeted group must have a common interest in this model. “The interpretation of information conveyed has to take three levels: identification of the product (syntactic); understanding of the Intended implication (semantic); interpreting the significance of the product (pragmatic)” (Bignell, 2002, p. 67).

Danesi states that:

Nivea DNAge product is more useful than other anti-ageing products. Nivea DNAge product is a unique cream that improves health conditions of the targeted users. It enhances DNA cells; Nivea DNAge product is made of Folic acid that is a significant contributor to DNA replication. Folic acid is important as it eradicates UV induced injuries; Folic acid is beneficial since it heals Thymidine Dimers. Nivea DNAge product cream also safeguards the DNA cells from external damages, hence making the skin to look younger and firmer (2000, p.32).

However, the role of the product to enhance DNA cells has created mix reaction; some people thought that this is a mere myth and is not true that is meant to boost sales.

Sebeok & Danesi affirm that the culture of modern consumers perceives human body as the critical sign of the self-identity, and perceives bodily ageing as something challenging and hindrance in human life (Sebeok & Danesi 2000, p. 6). Ageing is a problem which has been resolved with the introduction of Nivea DNAge product in the market. “The initiative is a gender-based program that is focused on feminine project care. “This product is a surgical intervention supplement for enhancing feminine grooming” (Brierley, 2002, p.45). Moreover, Chandler expressed that the ads promotion is focused on revealing pragmatic evaluation of the anti-ageing products to consumers (Chandler, 2002, p.11). Furthermore, Nivea industry has opened a relevant opportunity that offers solutions toward the challenges of ageing. In addition, “it is a market-oriented product that alleviates premature ageing and minimizes outward symptoms of ageing” (Beasley& Denesi, 2000, p.12).

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Ageing is an Enemy

Daniel views that the advertisement is focused on persuading women about the relevance of the product since it anti-ageing solution (Daniel, 2007, p. 48). Ageing is something depicted as the worst enemy toward women who always look forward to remaining sexy, young and beautiful. Moreover, “seduction is something that concerns physical features and aesthetic approaches” (Cook & Crawford, 2008, p.17). The benefit of beauty and the youthful human body influences not only feminine subjectivity but also the media demonstration and image modification. “Human body is a significant sign of visible variation among social classes” (Paramentier 1994, p.8). Indeed, “It can be deduced that body is a precious commodity; while ageing is portrayed as a challenge which can be alleviated through the use of an anti-ageing product such as Nivea DNAge products” (Unsworth, 1999, p. 20). “This particular ad is aimed to provide a better alternative to women; give attractive arsenal which involves physical practices, and pharmaceutical products focused on renovating the body within an aesthetic model” (Sebeok & Danesi, 2000, p.7).

Chandler expresses that the image shows a slimness and youthful lady, which portrays a modern lifelong model (Chandler 2002, p.11). Danesi opines that excessive focus toward body appearance has contributed to high usage of cosmetic products; ageing has been portrayed as something which is detrimental toward the beauty of women (Chandler 2000, p. 34). “Media has played an important role in representing women in various ways, thus discourages cultural stereotypes, biases and hierarchies in society. “Media services tend to objectify and sexualize women” (Hale, 2011, p.9). Ads are always insidious, and nobody can avoid their influence. Media services have transformed the role of women in society. This ad targeted women because they have higher spending power than men (Sebeok & Danesi, 2000, p. 7).

The Role of Cultural Values and Mass Media

Brierley viewed that the ads adopted represent cultural hybridity that creates a relation between women consumers and manufactures (Brierley 2000, p.46). “This is symbiotic relation that involves the exchange of cultural values (codes) which are encoded by manufactures and decoded by women buyers in order to generate new resource signs” (Sebeok, 2001, p.7). Bignell expressed that women would utilize such signs to build the identities that would distinguish them from other people while participating simultaneously with other people through consuming different commodities (Bignell 2000, p.27). The sign is the product and has the implication of its significance (signifier and signified). “The implication is not merely built from the appellation, but it relies on users, and its transfer relies on consumers’ willingness” (Beasley & Denesi, 2000, p.12). This ad is a cultural machine that builds commodity signs.

The advert utilized images in order to build cultural and social values.”Images are the most appropriate approach for selling goods in the modem world” (Cook & Crawford, 2008, p.17). Semiotics is a beneficial aspect for ads objectives since it captures attention and focuses its intended aims in a market to the youth, women and men. “The presence of features such as colours, text, images and other signs are the main part of the entire accomplishment of the advert” (Sebeok & Danesi, 2000, p.17). Semiotic is used differently depending on various products. For example, Nivea DNAge product emphasized the culture of freedom and happiness. According to Danesi, an effective advertisement has to express the intended information through conveying essential cultural codes (Danesi 2000, p.34). Semiotics provides significant devices for evaluating ads through exposing weakness and advantages of ads’ persuasion. Bignell viewed that advert is important in the sense that it provides a solution whereby women purchase Nivea DNAge products in order to solve their ageing challenges (Bignell 2002, p.27). The Ads also offers the growth opportunity wherever women purchase the Nivea DNAge product; their living standard would be much enhanced and improved whenever they use the product. The advert has codes that convey different implications depending on various cultural backgrounds.

Mass media services are mainly concern with the generation of modern cultures. Cultural values normally influence whatever values that are generated by mass media. Cultural values normally dictate what consumers would purchase; in fact, people buy certain signs when they are driven by the implication conveyed. Moreover, Hale viewed that semiotics plays a significant role in the ads because it inspects signs and implication that are conveyed and thus alerts the users about the relevance of the product (Hale 2011, p. 9). “Semiotics can discover hidden implications and evolving cultural codes, hence is important in predicting market trends” (Bignell, 2002, p. 27).

Semiotic Marketing

Semiotic is the process in which things are identified as signs. Beasley & Danesi affirm that marketing involves activities that recognize the needs of the targeted markets in order to provide desired satisfaction conveniently (Beasley & Denesi 2000, p.11). Marketing was based on the direct movement of goods and services from manufactures to the customer in earlier times. In the modern period, marketing concerns the interaction between consumers and sellers. “Most marketers currently have adopted a new trend of marketing that is a kind of exchange relationship which involves social, physical, psychological and financial implications” (Cook & Crawford, 2008, p.16). The aim of semiotic is to provide a clear position under which such implications are built and understood. Products are signs for sale; this is to say that goods and services are consumed and bought because of their pragmatic values as well as their signs. Goods and services have sign function; products enable users to generate implication (meaning) for themselves that symbolize the culture of the consumers. “Goods and services are perceived as part of a family. This shows how the product is evaluated in terms of syntagmatic and pragmatic aspects” (Paramentier, 1994, p.7). In addition, “the product has linguistic information (brand name), encoded iconic information through which the photographic representation denotes the product advertised and the coded iconic information” (Sebeok, & Danesi, 2000, p. 6).

Great ads

“The ad has employed great techniques such as famous celebrities and relevant imagery” (Bignell, 2002, p.27). This ad has a complex voice of sales promotion. The ad is strategically sound; it is carefully designed to a particular audience (women). The ad is driven by a particular object and the information conveyed is designed to convey information to women. The ad is operated within mass media services that effectively ensure that the information reaches the intended audience (women). “The main objective of this ad is to enhance sales, transform the attitude of consumers and promote its brand name” (Cook & Crawford, 2008, p.16). Moreover, innovative thinking is what drives the ad to pursued consumers to purchase the Nivea DNAge product. Creative thinking generates measures that solve existing problems. Mass media are creative services that intend to capture consumers’ attention. It is actually a good ad that conveys its message strategically, which reveals the significance of the product.

Paramentier expresses that the ad has employed emotive language, facts and opinions as an approach to reveal the meaning of the product (Paramentier 1994, p.7). The product has to be publicized because the Nivea DNAge is a product that is available to all women. The product has to be known to every woman who should know its benefits and values. Chandler viewed that advertisement is an important service as it is a way to communicate with people in the world (Chandler 2002, p.11). In fact, the world has become a tiny global village; media services promote information that reaches the entire corners of the world within a short period of time.

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Cook & Crawford affirm that modern people have become so informed due to the advancement of modern technology of media services (Cook & Crawford 2008, p.16). People, therefore, should not overlook the importance of advertisement; it is part of communication. The ad is not only impressive but also effective; it is both quantitative and qualitative; it is relevant and glows human mind that meets human needs.


After this first media analysis, it can be concluded that the importance of the smallest of details of semiotic signs is critical and actually meaningful in the market adverts. Semeiotics is a useful and relevant device that persuade consumers into buying market products. It can be conceptualized that advertising is more than just a business strategy; in fact, it is more like a discipline of Art that has to integrate cultural values while serving society.

Reference List

Beasley, R & Denesi, M 2000, Persuasive Signs: The Semiotics of Advertising, New York: Mouton De Gruyter.

Bignell, J 2002, Media Semiotics an Introduction, Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Brierley, S 2002, The Advertising Handbook, London, Routledge.

Chandler, D 2002, Semiotics: The Basics, London: Routledge.

Cook, R. G & Crawford, C 2008, “Drawing and Drums: Incorporating.

Danesi, M 2000, Semiotics in Language Education, New York: Mouton De Gruyter.

Daniel, C 2007, Signs the Basics, New York: Madison Avenue.

Hale, C 2011, “Umberto Eco Takes Semiotics to the Masses,” Review of General Semantics, vol. 68, p. 9.

Paramentier, R 1994, Signs in Society: Studies in Semiotics Anthology, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Sebeok, T & Danesi, M 2000, The Forms of Meaning: Modeling System Theory and Semiotics Analysis, New York: Mouton De Gruyter.

Sebeok, T 2001, Signs an Introduction to Semiotics, Toronto: University of Toronto.

Semiotic Activities to Enlist Learning,” International Forum of Teaching and Studies, vol.4, pp.14-17.

Unsworth, L 1999, “Explaining School Science in Book and CD Rom Formats: Using Semiotics Analyses to Compare the Textual Construction of Knowledge,” International Journal of Instructional Media, vol. 26, pp.17-20.

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