Advertising – Writing About A Printed Advert

The Language of Advertising – Printed Adverts & Images

There are a number of things you have to concentrate on when looking at an image, or an advert, either in class or in the exam.

  1. Content. In other words, you need to open with a sentence or two about the advert or image. You need to treat it like a poem, in the sense that when you see it in the classroom or exam, the thing is there, in the present, so it is present tense only. For example, “The advert for Vosene Junior has two pictures of Dennis the Menace in the centre of the page, with text above and below…..” Briefly, in one paragraph, state what you see. You do not need to use PEE chains yet.
  2. Audience. In this second paragraph, you need to think about and write about the audience being aimed at with the advert. For example, a Vosene Junior advert using Dennis the Menace would not be aimed at children, for they do not buy the product. No, it would be aimed at the parents of that child. Think in terms of age, gender, social grouping, why a certain audience would buy that kind of product. Is the advert successfully aiming at the target audience? Here is where the PEE chains begin.
  3. Images. You then move onto the next paragraph by mentioning the pictures that are included, however small. This may involve things like company logos so look at every image. I saw one once, a couple of years ago, for a mobile phone tariff where couples have a phone each but only one bill. The images were of two mobile phones with cartoon faces and arms and legs, running towards each other ready to embrace. The idea is that you would do so too if you shared a tariff. State what you see and give ideas as to why the advertiser may have chosen to use such an image. Is it aimed at a certain audience? If it is a baby pink ipod being advertised, why is it aimed more at the female audience?
  4. Text/Font. Here you need to look at the language used; the words and the fonts chosen by the creator of the advert. Is it successful or not? Is it child-like? If so, why so? Now this is advert dependent, in the fact that words used for selling shampoo, like “aqua,” [meaning water], tend not to be used when selling or advertising Jim Beam whiskey, for obvious reasons. This is where the word register comes into play [look it up on Google]. There are a group of words associated with certain things. Baby wipes have their set of words just as much as Top Gear Magazine has word sets, or a lexical group of words that are used. [Look up semantic fields as well]. You can also refer to how successful you think they are but without using the words “I” or “My” in your writing.
  5. Your Ideas. Here is where you get the chance to really criticise if necessary, the advert in question. Simply state whether the advert is any good at advertising the product in question. Your opinion is vital for success, but again, do it without using the personal pronouns mentioned above.
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