Use of Semiotics to Analyze Advertisements Essay

Use of Semiotics to Analyze Advertisements Essay

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The theory of semiotics, as proposed by Roland Barthes, has been used to analyze advertisements and the effectiveness of advertisements on viewers. In the articles that I researched that used semiotics to analyze particular advertisements, I found four common and related themes. First, the articles mentioned that the viewer determines the meaning of the advertisement or the viewer interprets the advertisement. Second, this meaning that the viewer assigns to the advertisement is largely determined by context, both social and cultural. Third, advertisers use culture and predominant cultural beliefs in their advertisements in efforts to reach their audience more effectively. Finally, these advertisements actually end up supporting the culturally dominant beliefs in the society and sometimes also create new values. In this paper I will give a summary of Roland Barthes’ theory of semiotics, and then I will go on to discuss the common themes I found in the articles and how they relate to semiotics.
The theory of semiotics by French theorist Roland Barthes analyzes signs and their meaning (Griffin, 2012). In semiotics, Barthes focused more on the nonverbal meanings of signs rather than on their verbal meanings (Griffin, 2012). One of the most important aspects of Barthes’ theory is his stance that there are two parts that make up a sign: the signifier, or level of expression, and the signified, or level of content (Barthes, 1985/1988)). The signified is the meaning that we attribute to the sign and the signifier is the actual object we perceive, and together they make the sign (Griffin, 2012). These signs can have two different meanings.
The first meaning they have is their denotative meaning, which is the original or historical m...


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...Hill.
Heiligmann, R., & Shields, V. R. (2005). Media literacy, visual syntax, and magazine advertisements: Conceptualizing the consumption of reading by media literate subjects. Journal of Visual Literacy, 25(1), 41-66.
Kroma, M. M., & Flora, C. B. (2003). Greening pesticides: A historical analysis of the social construction of farm chemical advertisements. Agriculture and Human Values, 20(1), 21- 35.
Phillips, N., Brown, J. L. (1993). Analyzing communication in and around organizations: A critical approach. The Academy of Management Journal, 36(6), 1547-1576.
Price, C. J. (2011). Using visual theories to analyze advertising. Visual Communication Quarterly, 18(1), 18-30.
Waechter, S. F. (2010). Contextual advertising in online communication: An investigation of relationships between multiple content types on a webpage. Auckland University of Technology.

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