Using the essay on pp. 149-155 (Media & Society 2016); 161-168 (Media & Society 2012) as a model (but certainly not a template), undertake a semiotic textual analysis of a current, modern-day advertisement showing how meaning is constructed. The ad must have people in it. Consider signs, signifiers, connotations, codes, and anchorage, as well as the possible ideological meanings of the advertisement. CHOOSE AN AD THAT IS RICH WITH MEANING. PAY GREAT CARE AS TO WHICH ADVERTISEMENT YOU CHOOSE TO ANALYZE. Like the Photo Composition Analysis exercise, the more interesting and complex the ad, the more there is to talk about.
As it states on p. 149/161, "in academic essays it is important to give evidence of reading and research. Always include references to and terminology from the course material in the unit you are studying, and define key terms and concepts with care. It is also advisable to include and discuss quotes from other academic books and articles to support, clarify, and substantiate your ideas. Academic essays should also feature a clear introduction, a thesis statement, a conclusion, and an alphabetised bibliography or reference list."

Some guidelines:

FORGET that this is an advertisement, and that it was created by creative people within an advertising agency. Pay attention purely to what the SYMBOLS (denotative and connotative) in the ad mean. If it's blond hair--what does blond hair mean in our culture? If a guy is buff or has super abs, what does that say about our hyped up steroid culture and the pressure men have to look like this? If someone has a crew cut or is wearing shades, what does each of those signs say about that person? Do you think--Military--and can you address the "military culture" that seeps into our larger U.S. culture? Do you think James Bond? State Trooper? Rock Star? In short, you're not describing the obvious; you have to DIG deep down into the core cultural symbols of YOUR culture and explain what these symbols MEAN. Just saying "she is skinny and that's a typical look in our culture" is not a semiotic analysis. Who is the ad interpellating? What ideologies are being put forth through the ad? How is the ad anchored through text? Are there any polysemic possibilities in the ad? Are there any metonymic signifiers? What does the composition of the ad tell us about what we are supposed to feel and who the ad is directed to? What is the implied narrative? Remember, culture is constructed; nothing is "normal." What can you say about skinniness in American culture, and the extent that it is valued? You're an anthropologist, and you're explaining your culture to a bunch of aliens from Mars.

Here are other areas you may want to explore in terms of symbolic signs (Remember SEARCH described on pp. 38-39):

Representations of bodies
Age. What is the age of the figures in the photograph meant to convey?
    Innocence? Wisdom? Senility?
Gender. Ads very often rely on stereotyped images of masculinity and femininity.
    Men are “active” and “rational”; women are passive and are associated with
    domestic activities. 
Race. Again, ads often depend on stereotypes. To what extent does an ad do this?
    Or does it normalize whiteness by making it invisible? Why?
Hair. Women’s hair is often used to signify seductive beauty or narcissism.
Body. Which bodies are fat (and therefore often represented as undesirable and unattractive)
    and which are thin? Are we shown whole bodies, or does the photo show only parts of bodies?
    (Women’s bodies are often treated in this way, especially in cosmetic ads.)
Size. Ads often indicate what is more important by making it big.
Looks. Again, ads often trade on conventional notions of male and female beauty.
Style. What does the things people are wearing represent?  What does a toupee mean, or an
    ankle bracelet, or a baseball cap?  What is this person saying by what he/she is wearing????  (Be bold
    and daring on this one.)

Representations of manner
Expression. Who is shown as happy, haughty, sad and so on? What facial and other
    expressions are used to convey this? Why?
Eye contact. Who is looking at whom (including you) and how? Are those looks
    submissive, coy, confrontational? Why?  What is the purpose?
Pose. Who is standing and who is prone? Why?

Representations of Activity
Touch. Who is touching what, with what effects?
Body movement. Who is active and who is passive?
Positional communication. What is the spatial arrangement of the figures?
    Who is positioned as superior and who inferior? Who is intimate with whom and how? How are they     
    standing, sitting, squatting, and WHY?

Props and Settings

Props. Objects in ads can be used in a way unique to a particular ad, but many ads rely on
    objects that have particular cultural significance. For example, spectacles often connote
    intelligence, golden light indicates tranquility, and so on.
Settings. Settings range from the apparently “normal” to the supposedly “exotic”,
    and can also seem to be fantasies. What effects does its setting have on an ad?


2.5 pages, single space, 12 font New Times Roman. Don't forget to insert the photo into your assignment (please don't send the photo separately, but make it part of your essay document). If you have chosen a magazine, do a simple scan in Rod Library (Digital Media Hub).

Upload to Blackboard: Content/Assignments/Critical Essay

Good luck.