Summary of the source text
In his essay “On reading video text,” Robert Scholes explains how videos use the visual sense to relay powerful messages to us. As a significant segment of multimedia, video texts are constantly running on television sets and currently, account for a significant part of the American culture.
According to Scholes, our cultural background helps us to construct a whole story from small bits of video messages displayed in the form of adverts. In other words, the impact of videos on us is powerful because they reflect our societies.
Though the use of video adverts primarily intends to increase sales, their nature confirms how we all belong to a given cultural unit. This paper seeks to analyze and explain the Folgers commercial narrative in the context of American society.
Summary of the Folgers commercial narrative
The Folgers commercial is a short video narrative that advertises a coffee beverage produced by the Folgers Company. The advertisement utilizes a typical American lifestyle. It briefly portrays how family members react to the arrival of one of their own, who has been away for a long time. The advertisement illustrates an extended family set up where a couple lives and cares for their elderly parents.
The cold weather represented in the advert goes hand in hand with the hot Folgers coffee. The advertisement ends with an extended display of a steaming cup, a kettle and a pack of Folgers coffee. The carefully executed advertisement is fully in touch with the values of the American people.
The shots in this video are remarkably brief, lasting an average of five seconds. The first shot shows a cab driving away as a man approaches the door of a house that seems to be his family house. There is snow on every inch of the compound, and the man is warmly dressed. A middle-aged lady peeps through the window and watches him approach.
She gets so excited to see the man. It is like she missed him so much. She smiles and runs to open the door for him. They tease each other a bit and hug warmly. They walk into the house with happiness written all over their faces. A packet of Folgers coffee and hot water in heating kettle instantly captures the man’s attention. He makes a cup of hot coffee for himself before turning back to the woman and handing her a present.
His mother who is still in bed hears him speak with the lady, smiles, and whispers to his father about his arrival. They both hastily get up to welcome their son. The family life displayed by the 46-second video narrative is just magnificent. It gives a perfect portrayal of a typical American family.
Cultural reinforcement in the Folgers advertisement
The Folgers commercial shows us what takes place in a typical American family, in which members have a strong emotional attachment for each other. There is a great display of love and fondness from all members of the family. The snow-covered outdoor surface and the heavy clothes worn by the main character in the advertisement represent cold winter, which is rare for the United States.
We usually associate hot coffee with the cold winter season, thus when the guy spots a packet of Folgers coffee and a kettle of hot water; he immediately makes a cup for himself to warm up. The excitement shown by the two people upon seeing one another is to evidence that they are married or engaged. Besides, the fact that the man has a present for the woman he had not seen for a while shows us that they have a close relationship, as it is normal in the American culture to give a present to someone you love after the long absence.
The facial expressions made by the two before the older members of the family come in show additionally that the two are very close. The American culture permits couples to stay with their aged parents and help them with daily chores. For this reason, the young lady has woken up early to prepare breakfast while the aged parents are still in bed.
Most video adverts aired on American television channels are consistent with the values of the American culture. The adverts can elicit powerful reactions in their viewers due to the strong cultural connection they present. The commercial narratives provide a lot of information in a single screenshot. This enables viewers to draw from their experiences and consequently construct an entire life story.
We have established the cultural association by critically analyzing and explaining the images in the Folgers commercial. The 44-second video enables us to construct a whole story of how the depicted family lives a happy life characterized by mutual love and care.
The narrative has also helped to remember the traditional connection between cold weather and hot coffee. Everything in the advertisement portrays a typical experience for everyone who lives in the US both culturally and geographically.
We can regard the Folgers commercial as a differentiated TV advert tailored for Western or American cultural needs. The values portrayed in the advert directly relate to practices of the American people. The snow, the hugs, and the family set up are all typical for the American way of life.
Though there is a limitation in the differentiation elements used, their strong presence indicates the individualistic nature of the advertisement. The social values of showing love and compassion to other members of the family have a universal appeal and will make viewers watch the advert to the last detail. This way the company excellently communicates the intended message to the audience.
The commercial narrative is also quite brief, lasting for 46 seconds and gets finished before a viewer becomes bored with it. Thus, I think the advert was effective in informing the masses about Folgers coffee. Traditionally, literacy only covered the ability to read and write. However, in today’s society, the term has expanded to include virtually every undertaking of human beings.
Different forms of media have grown exponentially to form an integral part of society. Therefore, media literacy is an essential part of the literate society. Media literacy should not only focus on the media forms that use the ability to read and write as it has been in the past; rather it should take into account all other aspects of the media.
Members of the society should be able to understand and respond to all the messages delivered through different forms of media. On the other hand, the media should display full knowledge of the values favored by the society it serves. Therefore, it is imperative that media literacy be included as part of the American school curriculum. This way, the majority of the American people will correctly interpret video narratives.