The Semiotics In Advertising: Decoding The Images Homework Essay Sample


If at all we are to better comprehend the application of visual signals in the field of advertising, it is necessary first that we comprehend also the generation of symbolic meaning. Most of the symbolic meaning finds its source in semiotics. Semitics refers to a hypothetical communication approach whose goal is to lay out extensively appropriate principles (Stone 2000). As such, semiotics may be seen as the art behind signs study.

In this respect, signs may assume the form of images, words, objects, or even sounds. Each medium for advertisements, be it a magazine, television, or radio often gets constrained by the variety of channels that may be utilized (Harvey, Michael & Malcolm 2001). For example, if we were to take language as an advertising medium, we find that at times, words may not succeed in symbolizing various experiences. By extension, such feelings as those of smell or touch may not be represented in any known form.

From the context of semiotics, a sign is taken to mean a symbolism of another thing. The signing process usually entails a sound, word, object, or image (the signifier) that stands for something else (the signified), that may be an idea, a concept, thought, emotion, or feeling that one may wish to communicate or associate (Ligerakis 2003). The association between on the one hand the signified and on the other hand, the signifier, often gets set up via a cueing process. Charles Price, a semiotics theorist, has grouped the signification types as indexical, iconic, as well as symbolic. Such a grouping becomes vital especially in a case whereby we may wish to further elaborate on the cueing concept, within the context of semiotics in advertising.

Emotive as the science behind semiotics analysis

For the reason that emotions may not be articulated via the use of rational terms only, semiotic analysis is usually applied to assist in the decoding of the words, images, comments, and words of consumers. The analysis of semiotics is alive to the realization that the entire communication process of humans consists of text systems that are capable of being decoded, thereby acting as signifiers of other intended meanings (Ligerakis 2003). It then becomes possible to deduce these types of signifiers for purposes of capitulating a comprehension of exactly what it is that they represent from both an individual and cultural point of view).

This particular approach to the science behind semiotics analysis becomes precious, in as far as decoding of texts and images about say, the reaction of a consumer towards a certain ad, for instance, or even a novel concept. It may not be unusual to have consumers being asked to express their feelings regarding a specific package or advertisement by way of, for example, creating collages. These kinds of exercises enable the respondents to semiotic research on advertising to instinctively articulate their profound, individual feelings as regards the utilization of a given brand or product, within the context of a non-rational environment or process (Harvey & Malcolm 2001).

Most of the time, however, consumers tend to be extremely naïve as to why they usually respond in a certain way, or even the reason behind their choice of specific images to utilize in a collage. From a rational point of view, therefore, this kind of collage or text may prove quite intricate to interpret.

The use of semiotics in the advertising industry

The main objective of semiotics is to facilitate in decoding the principle symbols, ideas, and metaphors that could be ‘at play’ in as far as cultural texts are concerned (these may entail websites, ads, packaging, or editorial) concerning a given area or category of interest. In as far as semiotic analyses are concerned, the issues of signifiers (the symbol or object behind the conveyance of meaning) as well as the signified (these may include the themes or cultural domain that the signifiers seek to invoke) (Harvey, Michael & Malcolm 2001). For instance, we may want to ask ourselves the kind of cultural values and symbols that advertisements of such a product as rum may seek to communicate.

Another example could be the symbols and values that brand advertisements meant for the teenagers seek to signify. As can be seen, the goal of semiotics is to assist in the assessment of such cultural texts, with a view to such a vantage point as has hitherto not been achieved. This is regardless of the type of advertisement that one may seek to run, which could be the introduction of a novel product brand, a positioning of an existing brand of products, or even attempts at resonantly speaking with a particular group of an audience.

The application of semiotics in the advertising industry is vital if at all such an advertisement is to record success. Semiotics therefore contributes significantly in grasping the desired target market’s attention. Such a target market could be teenagers, adults, men, or women. How certain text, images, color, as well as additional signs play a crucial role in as far a triumphant advertisement is concerned. It is also important to note that the application of semiotics in the advertisement shall also differ, based on the nature of the products that such an advertisement seeks to promote.

Nevertheless, the overall advertisement idea appears to remain unchanged, albeit with several exclusions, in a case whereby the products being advertised are similar (Stone 2000). For instance, a majority of the advertisements for automobiles emphasize no excitement or freedom feelings that come about following the driving of a given type of automobile. How such advertisements can accomplish this is via utilization of images that ensure that vehicles being advertised appear more versatile or rugged, in comparison with the other types of vehicles. Taking yet another example, advertisements on alcoholic beverages gives an impression that by consuming these, one stands a chance of gaining popularity of, for example, a party scene, and that pone is bound to experience added fun by consuming a given type of beer, rum, or vodka.

A variety of media supplies various structures that allows for a representation of experience. As such, particularly senses may control a certain communication medium, thereby resulting in a system of semiotic, as opposed to a communication means. The press often makes use of visual-based channels, in which the written language is usually augmented by graphic designs, photographs, and even printing (Harvey & Malcolm 2001). Conversely, the radio makes use of the oral channel, with an over-reliance on the spoken language, broadcasting as well as sound. Television, on its part, makes use of image, sound, and broadcasting. As such, every advertising media may be seen to be somehow unique from each other.

Indexical, symbolic, and iconic signs in advertising

About ‘iconicity’, the best example to take here would be photographic images that may symbolize a place, real object, or even an individual. These are usually the iconic signs that the advertising industry utilizes regularly. In this case, the signified-signifier connection is usually sourced from a likeness or resemblance to the iconic image (Stone 2000). An individual’s portrait may be seen as an authentic iconic sign, seeing that the image is more of a resemblance of the person. As such, iconic images may be seen to be both representational and literal.

On the other hand, ‘indexicality’ is used about those signs that tend to go past a mere object or personal delineation, to illustrate extra meaning or information to the object or person that we may have just observed (Ligerakis 2003). For instance, information that may be meant to convey a vacation package in Rome, Italy, could be symbolized by the use of the Rome Coliseum picture, which happens to be a Rome landmark.

In addition, a picture that depicts a man clad in Nike wear may be seen as iconic in two ways. First, it is iconic from the perspective of the attire’s manufacturer (Ligerakis 2003). Also, the movement of the character could be concurrently indexical, concerning the social status, frame of mind, and values of the character.

Symbols in advertising

In a situation whereby the signifier-signified connection does not depend on resemblance, but rather appears anchored on principles, such a sign is often referred to as a ‘symbol’. For instance, the rose is usually seen as symbolizing love, yet it does not possess any intangible passion or love features. Rather, this is a result of a long-term cultural association of love and roses. Without a doubt, symbols are determined culturally and socially, while their meaning may get altered (Harvey & Malcolm 2000).

Across time, and even amongst the various cultural categories, visual advertising cues, at least from a symbolic level, goes beyond just a plain signification, as they bring out a multifaceted construction of meaning based on a network of connections that have been encountered in the past (Monty 2000). A good example here would be the ads for the Marlboro brand of cigarettes. Here, we can witness The Marlboro ad appearing to express the wide nature, streams in the mountain, as well as a cowboy filled with masculinity. As an audience, the ad appears to invite us to draw a relationship between these scenes and the brand being advertised; Marlboro.

These are conventional Wild West images that have been borrowed by the advertisers in the cigarette industry to act as a ‘signifier for the signified’: freedom, adventure, success, and masculinity. In this case, the cowboy comes out as the Marlboro symbol even though we may not be in a position to draw a logical association between, on the one hand, the brand of cigarettes and on the other hand, the cowboy. Most of the time, brand images symbolize products and for a majority of the ads, the indexical, iconic, and symbolic signs are seen to overlap frequently, with the result that they get presented at the same time (Harvey & Malcolm 2000). Eventually, we have no choice but to embrace the ‘logic’ via the system of symbols without pondering any questions.

Judith Williamson, in her book Decoding advertising, has noted that we often tend to associate a product in our minds with emotions and its image but all along, this associative process is usually an unconscious one (Williamson 1978). Signs to other systems of meaning for particular images, ideas, or emotions that are often associated with these, often get relocated to products, as opposed to the other way round. The ideas, thoughts, and emotions connected with factual and objective things are not a rarity for a majority of religious rituals, and also the various forms of arts. However, for the advertising industry specifically, its objective is to lure positive emotions and feelings by way of promising pleasures following purchase and the consequent consumption of a given product that is being advertised (Monty 2000). As such, ideals, images, and feelings get attached to products through a cultural system sign transfer process onto those products that are being advertised. Consequently, the products along with the evoked ideology and feeling get etched into our minds. Even then, the linking process remains an unconscious one.

Ideology and meaning: a textual semiotic approach to advertising

To kick-start an ideological assessment and meaning about a semiotic approach to advertising may be it would be useful if we were to ponder over the image of a certain celebrity at such a time as they are winning a given award. How has are they dressed or photographed, and who is in the company of such a celebrity? Maybe the image that could easily come to our mind is such a celebrity attends an award ceremony just being dressed formally, at the same time also smiling with their award in hand, in the company of say, a partner of the opposite sex, and of course the one responsible for presenting such an award. How easy we can depict such a scenario no doubt tells about the level to which this type of image has become pervasive, and also how this seeks to portray celebrities as achievers.

In addition, the incidence of picturing a celebrity accompanied by a member of the opposite sex is a true index of a strapping association between, on the one hand, celebrity and on the other hand, the issue of heterosexuality, in the face of an industry that is characterized by lesbian and gay celebrities that are open about their sexual orientations. Since celebrities are often presented to us in such a manner as to depict figures worth desiring for, the sexuality of celebrities is therefore of significance, about the kind of stories that we may get to hear as regards them, and this is very much a part of semiotics (Ligerakis 2003).

Furthermore, connotation and denotation are two other important terms that are worth exploring if at all we wish to understand better the analysis of semiotic texts (Ligerakis 2003). Going back to the image scenario of a celebrity receiving an award, we may have incorporated a red carpet in that image, as a way of denoting a covering to the floor. However, the red carpet, in this case, connotes importance. After all, the only treasured guest gets the honor of a red carpet being rolled out for them, and celebrities are by no means, ordinary guests. Another association between a connotation and denotation could be the scene of a luxurious hotel that boasts of a serene golf course. In this case, the setting of such a golf course could be quite tropical, and so seek to denote a serene location. However, o to those living in the vicinity of such a hotel, the connotation of such scenery might be one of enjoying a luxurious holiday in such a hotel.

Advertising in the fashion industry: a semiotic assessment

Advertising in fashion comes across as an outstanding illustration of image vs. identity media for production. In this case, the product nature bears a direct association with its identity (these are the objects that often, we utilize for encasing our bodies, for purposes of a public display). In addition, fashion has been recognized as a cultural style of language (Stone 2000).

From the context of ‘high fashion advertising’, there are image-identity advertisements and products that have positioned themselves at the pinnacle of the socio-economic continuum.

(These include Gucci, Dolce Gabanna, Prada, such media as Zoom, the runaway show, Allure, and Zoom). In this case, the objective of generating an eye-catching product of identity is often trailed using the talent or artist, as well as the influential positions of those who have money. These two elements get drawn from the international circle, for purposes of crafting imagery that is not just captivating, but emotive as well.

In general, advertising and the ‘high fashion industry’ depict an identity continuum, integrated with wide-ranging kinds of signifiers (these may include high status, young women, as well as high sexuality), and also via a continuous variation and repetition of the images that have been depicted by the intended themes (Stone 2000). Concerning advertising in the fashion industry, image is everything. Image depicts more than just pictures. Images may entail that which we are capable of learning via either the spoken or written words, words that are often seen to go along with the visuals.

The issue of polysemy is central to semiotics. This is a term that is used about the latent assortment of meaning which could be obtained from a certain text in question. Even then, we must beseen to take into consideration any captions or text that may be surrounding a given image, and which attempts to supply an extra meaning for that particular image in question (Ligerakis 2003). In this case, captions play the role of condensing visual polysemy, as well as in augmenting that meaning which is favored. In this particular case, analysts of texts take the captions as being capable of supporting two roles. First, captions could facilitate the be seen the anchoring of meaning.

What this appears to portray therefore is that captions aids in the ‘tying down’ of meaning that could by now be too evident, and which has been availed via an image, thereby ensuring that other meanings are not seen to surface (Monty 2000). Secondly, captions could also be utilized in communicating a certain meaning, as well as in generating the same image but with a novel meaning, and which on its own, the image may not have been in a position to bring out.

Photography within the fashion industry (and especially the ‘high fashion advertisement’) facilitates a visual language definition of some of the strongest brands in the market (Wells 2000). With the right image of a given brand, there is a high likelihood that this could take the center stage, relative to the brand’s logo, or even a copy that has meticulously and carefully been crafted, eventually possibly assuming the position of the actual brand.


Semiotics, from the perspective of the advertisement industry, refers to the study of the utilization of texts, symbols, and meanings, to communicate a given idea or notion. As such, semiotics could be regarded as symbolic. In advertising, there are two elements that come to play, as far as semiotics is concerned; the signifier (that is, that which is used to construe meaning, or symbolize something else) and the signified (that which has been symbolized by the signifier). Often, there exists a correlation between the signifier and the signified, and this is what facilitates drawing out meaning from a given text of an advertisement.

The main objective of semiotics is to facilitate in decoding the principle symbols, ideas, and metaphors that could be ‘at play’ in as far as cultural texts are concerned. The application of semiotics in the advertising industry is vital if at all such an advertisement is to record success. Semiotics, therefore, contributes significantly to grasping the desired target market’s attention. In such high-end industries as the fashion sector, semiotics is well captured through photography, whereby the image and status of the celebrities that are used to advertise certain renowned products or brands, connect status, the social-economic dynamics, and the brands in question.

Semitics analyses, therefore, enable us to decode the hidden images of certain texts and symbols that may be a characteristic of a given advertisement, so that we are now able to make a connection between the brand in question, and what that particular brand stands for.

Work cited

Harvey, Michael & Malcolm, Evans ‘Decoding competitive propositions: a semiotic alternative to traditional advertising research’ International journal of market research 43.2 (2001): 171-87. Web.

Ligerakis, Maria (2003) ‘Hidden meanings of semiotic marketing’ Web.

Monty, Alexander. (2000) ‘Codes and contexts: practical semiotics for the qualitative researcher’ Web.

Stone, Rebecca (2000) ‘A semiotic analysis of four designer clothing advertisements’ Web.

Wells, L. (Ed) Photography: a critical introduction. New York: Routledge, 2000.

Wells, L. The Photography Reader. London: Routledge, 2003.

Williamson, Judith. Decoding advertisements: ideology and meaning in advertising. London: Sage, 1978.

Is It Necessary To Learn The Rules Of Writing?

Literature works are created by a writer. Writing is the process of putting down one’s thoughts or fantasies. This process is one of the most usual and at the same time the most enigmatic. Where do thoughts and fantasies come from? How to put them accurately so that every reader could understand the message? Where did outstanding writers draw inspiration from? All these questions are asked by both writers and readers. Truman Capote tried to solve these problems. He wrote: “Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself.” The understanding of the laws of writing leads to success. It can be inborn or acquired with experience. Vladimir Nabokov tried to apply such rules. He admitted: “I have rewritten- often several times- every word I have ever written. My pencils outlast their erasers”. Thus, his use of rules has confronted many difficulties. He was very scrupulous in writing and rewriting. Maybe, there are no rules of writing if their application is so difficult?

Truman Capote emphasized the existence of numerous tools in painting and music. Consequently, writing, literature as a kind of art, in particular, possesses some rules as well. People, gifted for literature by nature, seem to learn them on their mother’s knees. They write perfectly without any effort. Others feel difficulties in writing even a simple message. Such people should learn the rules. In this case, learning means the study of academic rules of correct and successful writing. Awareness of the rules does not mean their application. Putting into practice acquired knowledge requires much skill. Knowing the rules is the first stage in the creation of something own and unique. And here we should rearrange these rules to suit ourselves. It means that every personality is unlike the other one. Each person writes in their their style and manner. Individual language, thinking, and picture of the world influence writing. And it is great when the world is full of unlike things. People apply rules in their way. And this makes written papers diverse.

The process of writing is rather time-consuming and difficult. It depends much on the diligence of the writer. Vladimir Nabokov’s literature works prove his skills. He was a genius. Despite his inborn talent, he was very industrious and diligent. He rewrote his works many times, trying to achieve the best effect on his reader. This writer was a highly educated and developed personality. He surely read much and was aware of the rules of successful writing. His example proves that, besides inborn talent and education, diligence and industry should accompany any work. Yearning for perfection and tireless efforts are very important in writing.

To my mind, writing is among the most difficult communication skills. First of all, it is because the pen is mightier than the sword. Words are very strong in their force of influence on people’s destinies. Besides, successful writing means an accurate and precise selection of words. And it is very difficult to find a word that denotes your state, attitude to events, or thought precisely. There are so many words with different shades of meaning and collocations that choosing only one is very difficult. Like Vladimir Nabokov, we may try to rewrite many times to make our work excellent, but we may get lost in doubts about which variant was the best. In my opinion, diligence does not mean pedantry. Sometimes, the words, which have occurred at once, suit better, than elaborated phrases. They come from subconsciousness and are evoked by intuition. I cannot but agree that every masterpiece required scrupulous and thorough thinking and realization. No sweet without some sweat. Hard work will bring fruit.

I try to learn the rules and master theory. But when it comes to practice, difficulties begin. How to plan my work? How to arrange parts and build the course of thoughts? I think, such a question puzzle many people. Being a student also requires skills in time management and resistance to stress. One of the most difficult things is to overcome irritation and disappointment when nothing comes out of hard efforts. If one cannot write some piece, he should try to see the reverse side of the topic and find new approaches to the subject matter. Always there are some thoughts and ideas, which can be helpful. And in this case, the rules are useful. They represent a step-by-step succession of actions, proved by the use of many people. These rules are sure to help to extract the message of your writing and find words and media for its expression. I try to rearrange rules so that they suited my style of life and study, my habit of thinking, and my speed of typing. These rules are universal, but they do not reflect the particular traits of every student.

Frankly speaking, most of the problems in writing lie in a lack of perseverance or even laziness. One should do his best in completing the work. Writing requires perseverance, thorough meditating, and rejects any haste. I stick to advise to put down all my thoughts because I can forget them in a minute. And of course, there should be attentiveness. Even a slight lapse can spoil the whole work. I think Nabokov was successful in it. He corrected all the mistakes and rewrote his paper so many times that it was almost perfect. Attentiveness should accompany both the process of thinking and the process of writing. Everybody should be attentive to his thoughts so that nothing could be omitted. Careful writing implies avoiding mistakes and precise use of words.

Writing requires effort. Successful writing requires hard efforts. At first, any writer should learn the rules if he was not born knowing them. Then he should adopt these rules of individuality. Hard work and diligent practice will be the next stage of writing. No matter how quick on uptake you are, only practice can perfect your skill. It means continuous rewriting of your works. It takes a lot of time, but your efforts will be rewarded for sure. Praise and understanding of own abilities will encourage further learning, in which writing occupies a very important place. How else can the tutor get to know about your progress? Pieces of writing are evidence of a person’s self-development and broad mind. They are integral parts of the study. In conclusion, I would like to emphasize not only the importance but also the great potential of written papers. They serve the purpose of communication and sharing thoughts with other people. They contribute to progress in all spheres of everyday life. And I want to add one more fact. All contemporary writers began with school essays. Maybe one of them is among us?

Pop Culture In Movies: How Far Can It Get?

To speak about the pop culture of any country one should distinguish the definition of this term. The Longman dictionary of contemporary English presents such an explanation: pop culture is music, films, products etc. in a particular society that are familiar to and popular with most ordinary people in that society (Pop culture).

The theme of pop culture and its impact on people remains rather noteworthy to discuss. On the one hand, any pop culture includes history, mentality, inner world, habits and traditions of the nation where it firstly appeared. On the other hand, spreading the territories of other countries, pop culture of one nation becomes international pop culture.

LeRoy (2006) notices that “the role of entertainment had never been greater or more important. The flood of popular culture images and sounds reached unprecedented levels, as advertisements, talk shows, hundreds of cable television channels, music, magazines, and games suffused American life” (p. 441).

The society where popular culture and mass media sources are the most powerful and the most significant institutions is described by postmodern theory. The goal of this theory is to recognize a media-saturated society. Moreover, nowadays the distinction between phenomena of pop culture and art becomes less explicit. Another moment to be noticed here is the intersection of pop culture and art becoming prevalent more and more.

Strinati (2004) says that “this point argues that present and future expansions, constrictions and concentrations of time and space have led to increasing confusion and incoherence in social senses of space and time , in our maps of the places where we live, and our ideas about the times by which we organize our lives”(p.214).

This postmodern idea of pop culture is exactly highlighted in the famous American movie Back to the Future. Firstly, this picture attracts the viewer by dynamic plot, catchy music, comical characters and situations, captivating special effects. But behind the funny romantic plot hides the deep philosophical idea. This so-called time travelling represents some discomfort of human present and uncertainty about the future, implying the longing for the past. Another idea that contemporary mass media dominance results in spontaneity of global time and space is observed between the lines of the plot. It means that the idea of previously coordinated and determined time and distance becomes confused and twisted. All-embracing flow of money, pop culture and various information breaks all evident time borders and defined distances of geographical space. The velocity and volume of present-day mass communication, the easiness with which this information comes to people, make space and time less continual and understandable but more confused and coordinated.

Denby (1985) emphasizes that “the past is the chrysalis of the present, but in this movie, the present, when confronted by the past, seems not a fulfillment but a falling away. The picture has been made with a shrewd, satirical eye for the sadness of American “progress” (p. 65).

The central idea that popular culture and mass media sources are the most powerful and the most significant institutions is proved in another outstanding American movie The Truman Show. But in spite of the fact that mass media achievements and scientific inventions are present in this picture, the key idea of the movie is different.

The Truman Show is a bitter satire on such popular American reality TV-shows as Survivor, Dancing With the Stars, X-factor, clones of which successfully conquered the whole world. But as opposed to TV-shows mentioned above, which aimed to enlarge borders of pop culture and inspire ordinary people to show their talents, The Truman Show is intended to reveal fake and engineered life, created in order to entertain other people.

Truman is the protagonist. He lives his life as an ordinary man. He has work, family, beloved girl. But he is the only person who has no the slightest idea about the artificial world he lives in. Even the most emotional moments of his life are directed by TV-show organizers. It is a pity to recognize, but Truman becomes a marionette in insatiable jaws of contemporary show business and stupid people whose only desire is to get bread and circuses.

The trajectory of the screen play is more or less inevitable: Truman must gradually realize the truth of his environment and try to escape from it. It’s clever the way he’s kept on his island by implanted traumas about travel and water. As the story unfolds, however, we’re not simply expected to follow it: we’re invited to think about the implications. About a world in which modern communications make celebrity possible, and inhuman (Ebert p. 794).

In conclusion I would like to say that in spite of the fact that the movies Back to the Future and The Truman Show have different plots, they deal with similar theme: the impact of pop culture and mass media on human life.

The Back to the Future film proved the fact of mass-media dominance in almost all spheres of life. It highlighted that the development of new technologies and their application goes on faster than time does by. The Truman Show confirmed the thought of powerful mass media resources as well. But this film also revealed the bitter truth of the destruction of human identity by their concerning other problems and emotions.

Both movies proved: pop culture can get very far.

Reference List

Denby, D. (1985). Time warp. New York Magazine, 27(18). New York Media, LLC

Ebert, R. (2008). Roger Ebert’s Four Star Reviews 1967-2007. Andrews McMeel Publishing.

LeRoy, A. (2006). With amusement for all: a history of American popular culture since 1830. University Press of Kentucky.

Pop culture. Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. Web.

Strinati, D. (2004). An introduction to theories of popular culture. Routledge.

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