Advertising in the 21st Century can be extremely risky business. The public, which contains a product’s crucial consumers, is full of little beady judgmental eyes that will unconsciously analyse everything they set their focus on. Luckily, these little beady judgmental eyes may not know all the mumbo jumbo (known as connotations and denotations) behind the critical analysing of a media text…but I do, so let me explain using a somewhat “confronting” Marc Jacobs “Daisy” advertisement (god I love perfume).
A denotation can be described as the translation between a sign and the literal meaning of it, where as a connotation translates a sign into meanings associated with it (Megginson, 2010). Take the Daisy advertisement for example, what do we see?; a girl laying down wearing her underwear (and underwear only), an oversized perfume bottle (where can I get me one of those?), a field of grass in the background, and the brand name in bold letters. These are the clearly stated images right in front of our faces, our denotations.
This advertisement can be considered as a confronting or complex media text to some as it draws unnecessary attention. If this add were to be on a billboard or in a shop window mothers would hide their children’s eyes, girlfriends would hit their boyfriends for having a peak, and women will want to look away in discomfort but just cant bring themselves to. The model in this picture has what society considers to be a “good” body, and she looks perfectly happy to lay around in a field wearing her under wear. The boldness of the brand name also shows the importance of it, or prestige if you will, luring in consumers to purchase this brand with a renowned good reputation and high status. These elements are our connotations, what we make of the symbols and signs and the questions they make us consider.
The image may be trying to portray the idea that if a consumer were to purchase the product, when using it they would also feel free and beautiful enough to go parading themselves around in grass (which is totally absurd, right?). But funnily enough, despite criticisms, this form of advertising actually works proven by the millions of Marc Jacob’s Daisy bottles sold around the globe.
So next time you feel persuaded to open your wallet due to an advertisement that makes someone else look good, reevaluate and take note of the denotations and connotations… do you really want to purchase the product after its advertising campaign has been pulled apart and we can decipher exactly what the marketers want us to believe?
D, Megginson. 2010. Connotations and Denotations . [ONLINE] Available at: <http://www.uottawa.ca/academic/arts/writcent/hypergrammar/conndeno.html>[Accessed 29 March 14]