Friday, November 9, 2012

Presentation Outline

Assignment #15

Presentation Outline

I am going to present my project solo, as I declined to group up with other people. I intend to present my project using Powerpoint and a poster with all 100 advertisements on it, 20 advertisements per decade from the 1950's to today. If I am unable to create/procure such a poster, I will pass around print-outs with a range of ads not depicted in the Powerpoint presentation.


Introduction and Thesis- Will describe the purpose of the project and how it was organized; why is looking at 50 years of advertising important?

Advertisement Review- Will explain the traits and characteristics of each decade of advertising, from the 1950's to today. Will provide advertisements that demonstrate the decade's qualities, plus some of the factors that led to those qualities.

Recap- Will compare the new traits of advertising today to the methods used in older ads. Images help clarify the difference.

Relevant Course Material- Will connect the concepts and textual evidence of course texts (John Berger, Kalle Lasn) to the concepts illustrated by my project.

Q & A- Self explanatory.

The total time spent presenting should be close to 10 minutes, the time limit imposed.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Project Reflection #2

Assignment #14

Project Reflection #2

Over the period of the FYS course, our class has reviewed a number of texts with a variety of different concepts, from images in advertising to gender roles. While some of these texts don't have relevance to my project, there are a couple whose concepts can be applied to what I am researching. For example, take John Berger's "Ways of Seeing," a scholarly text concerning the presence of women in a predominantly male culture. Berger states that, "...and so she comes to consider the surveyor and the surveyed within her as the two constituent yet always distinct elements of her identity as a woman" (46). To paraphrase, Berger is saying that men are the surveyors: able to gaze upon the image of a woman freely, while women are only able to gaze upon themselves. This same concept can be applied to race in advertising. Before the 70's, there was little to no representation of other races in advertising, with a sparse amount of ads featuring black actors or models. One could make the connection that people of other races could only gaze upon the image of whites in advertising, while whites could look upon themselves with impunity, knowing that the culture at the time favored them.

Another text which has relevance to the material I'm researching is Susan Bordo's "Hunger as Ideology," which concerns gender roles and the idealization of food products. Bordo's main idea doesn't have relevance to my project, but a section in the text titled "Destabilizing Images" does have relevance to the material I'm covering. Bordo states that (in relation to ideological messages in ads that go against traditional norms of advertising), "Rather, they always display a complicated and bewitching tangle of new possibilities and old patterns of representation." In the 90's, the Benetton Group, a global fashion brand, decided to break traditional norms of advertising and feature ads with interracial models and provocative imagery. For example, one of the ads features a white male embracing and kissing a black female on the cheek, signifying interracial relationships. Whether it's a moral statement from the company or simply to be provocative, it breaks the standard "Patterns of Representation" mentioned by Bordo, and shows progressive, yet daring views of thinking on part of the company. As for why this project is important, I believe that taking a look at advertising throughout 50 years is a good way to see how much our perception has changed, and how we have come to accept differences in both race and nationality. It grants perspective, something that is needed in order to remain conscious of the nature of advertising.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Project Update

Assignment #13

Project Update

At this point in the project, I am starting to work on my Powerpoint presentation. I have collected all of the ads in my series, totaling 100 advertisements, from the 1950's to the 2000's. I was originally thinking of reducing the number of advertisements featured, but that would detract from the results, so I refrained from doing so. I have narrowed down my topic to the representation of race, removing gender from the focus, as many sub-topics would have to be considered if gender was factored in. If possible, I will create a poster with all 100 ads featured on it, while my powerpoint would focus on the ads which I felt best represented the decade they were made in.

By studying advertisements from the past, we can more accurately gauge how progressive we are, and where we can expect to be in the future. At the very least, it'll show who was marketed to the most, and how much that has changed over a period of 50 odd years. Thus far, I have learned that the focus of advertising was massively skewed towards whites during the 50's onward, with the inclusion of other races not present until the 70's... at least, that's what I have found in my selection of ads. In conclusion, I need to work on presenting my findings in an effective and meaningful way, while remaining relevant to the topics we have studied in class.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Project: First Reflection

Assignment #11

First Reflection

I have not yet started on my project for FYS, but I have a good idea of what I would like to accomplish. For my project, I would like to do a case study on the representation of different demographics in the field of advertising, and how much it as changed, from the 1950's to 2000's. A 50 year period of time, encompassing changes in both advertising methods and society, should be enough to illustrate how companies advertised their products, as well as who they targeted. The goal of my project is to see if companies have become more progressive in representing both race and gender.

This project brings up a number of questions, usually having to do with the standards of the advertisements of the time. Did the 50's advertisements cater to a predominantly white demographic due to society's prejudice at the time? Did that change after the Civil Rights movement? By analyzing the main subjects of the advertisements of the time, I can see what demographic the companies targeted, and compare it to other ads closer to the present. One aspect of this project that concerns me is that there are a LOT of advertisements from the 50's to now, so I will have to choose a suitable range of advertisements for each decade. A small range won't yield any results, a large range would be unmanageable and take too much time. Therefore, around 20 advertisements per decade would be opportune, with 100 advertisements analyzed in total. Looking ahead, I know that I will need to spend a good amount of time documenting the subjects of each advertisement, as I have many ads to look at and deconstruct... for the good of science!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Advertisement Analysis

Assignment #10

Watches, Wealth, and Masculinity

Many things can come to mind when you think of a fancy watch, such as wealth, power, and impeccable taste. Swiss watchmaker Zenith had the same ideas as well, and decided to implement that imagery into their ad for the "Grande Class Traveller" sports watch. This ad features muted hues of color and a handsome white male in a business suit, no doubt to play to masculine sensibilities. The advertisement is also skewed towards the higher echelons of society due to the private jet in the background, accompanied by the flashy watch in the foreground. Note the quote from Leonardo da Vinci juxtaposed over the male model; this is to give the advertisement intellectual depth as well as accentuate the intricacies of the expensive watch. The demographic of this advertisement is obvious: rich white businessmen and entrepreneurs. Zenith's advertisement also makes the connection between wealth and masculinity, as it implies that the consumer will be masculine and powerful if they buy the expensive bauble, glamorizing affluence and extravagant living that most people can't afford.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Deodorant Dissonance

Assignment #9

Deodorant Dissonance

Comparing these two ads for deodorant side by side, the first thing you'll notice is that they are both the same brand. They are both Speed Stick, the deodorant made by the company Mennen. What's important is the marketing slant of both ads, the left one advertising to men, the right one advertising to women. It is the same title for both variations of the brand, except the prefix "Lady" is added to the feminine deodorant for obvious reasons. One difference between the ads is the color scheme, obviously geared towards the sensibilities of each gender. The men's ad is a cool blue color, the same as the product, while the women's deodorant is the same way, except purple. Note the subjects in each advertisement: the men's advertisement has an adult male with half a mustache, no doubt caused by his ineptitude with a razor, and the women's advertisement has a closet of clothes, the sleeves of the lightly colored garments raised in the air as if to express their gratitude for not receiving armpit stains. The male advertisement carries a message of preparedness, that if you wear the deodorant in question, you'll be ready for anything. The female advertisement, in contrast, is about how the user's clothes are spotless and odorless, thanks to the deodorant.

The values implied by both ads differ, due to marketing to gender. The men's deodorant ad emphasizes confidence and utilitarianism, both male traits. The clean, straight lines and muted color scheme also appeal to masculine sensibilities, as well. The women's deodorant ad takes an opposite approach, instead emphasizing the female consumer's clothes. This focus on clothes is decidedly feminine, with an appeal to vanity. Note the lack of an actor/actress in the advertisement; the inclusion of a female subject would take away from the message that the clothes deliver. The stylized lines and bright color scheme are also designed to appeal to the female demographic. Overall, both ads do not break gender norms, as they have to remain firmly planted in gender roles in order to sell to their respective audiences.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Averting Berger's Gaze

Assignment #8

Averting Berger's Gaze

According to John Berger, images of men and women presented to us change the way that we perceive ourselves. One only needs to look at an advertisement to see how Berger is correct, as there is no shortage of unattainable goals brought forth by such a medium. Berger has another theory, however: men are only allowed to gaze upon others, while women can only gaze upon themselves. This is questionable; as a male, I know that I have had moments where I have doubted my attractiveness, and turned my gaze inward. I also know that women are not wholly self absorbed; they desire affection from the opposite (or same) sex, and are attracted to good looks as much as any guy is. This doesn't mean that Berger's theory doesn't carry weight, though.

Looking at the Calvin Klein ads, I find that they support Berger's ideas... somewhat. The need to improve oneself after seeing the perfectly sculpted and digitally altered models is almost maddening, regardless of gender. Due to the Herculean traits of the Calvin Klein models, both genders find they turn their gaze upon themselves, insecurities compounded by comparison. When presented with such a perfect representation of beauty, Berger's ideas fall away, as males aren't the only ones who "survey" and make judgments. Both genders desire attractiveness, and both are going to go to extreme measures to procure it.