Assignment: Interpret and analyze an advertisement from a magazine or other
periodical in order to ARGUE the appropriateness or inappropriateness of the ad and the intended effect on its target audience
Audience: Fellow college students
Length: 1200-1500 words (4-5 pages)
Citation: MLA style,including a Works Cited page
Researchers in the humanities are concerned with interpretation. However, interpretations can be widely and significantly varied because people can arrive at differing conclusions when they attempt to make meaning. Disciplines in the humanities work to develop and also to evaluate these interpretations.
In this paper, you will interpret a current magazine advertisement in order to determine both what the advertisement is and what the advertiser who created it is trying to achieve with it. Advertisers make it their business to understand the ways that people interpret pictures, commodities, ideas, moods, attitudes, philosophies, ideologies, and symbols, and they hope to use those associations in order to persuade, or as one theorist argues, “manipulate” consumers into buying their products.
Writing the Interpretation
Your job will be to examine how a particular advertiser is influencing a particular demographic group (or multiple ones): what is the advertisement’s effect on its target audience? Whom does it target? What assumptions does the advertisement make about its target group and American culture as a whole? What symbols does the advertisement use to make its statement? Is the advertisement effective at promoting its message? Is that message fair? If so (or not), how? Why?
Your essential task, however, is to comment on the advertiser’s approach to selling his or her product. Is it appropriate? Ethical? If so, why or why not?
It is not necessary to answer all of these questions, nor is this an all-encompassing list. Feel free to ask other questions that explore the form of the advertisement and the intent of its creators.
Writing the Argument
- Briefly introduce the issues that relate to the advertisement that will be discussed in the paper.
- Identify the advertisement you will be analyzing.
- Present your thesis, which should discussnot only the content of the advertisement but also whether the presentation of the advertisement is ethical/appropriate.
- Describe the advertisement, focusing specifically on the form of the advertisement – color, shape, typeface, etc. What is it about those characteristics that lead you to your thesis. That is to say, what physical components of the ad are unethical or inappropriate?
- Consider the advertiser’s goals or intentions in creating this specific advertisement and comment on them. Do they commit fallacies, or do they, as Solomon suggests, manipulate rather than persuade their audience? Devote separate paragraphs to every major point or intent.
- Just as Solomon does with the commercials he discusses in his article, explain the meaning of the elements in the advertisement in relation to your discussion of how advertisements work. You are encouraged to incorporate not only Solomon’s ideas, but also those made in “The Persuaders,” or any that come up in class discussion.
- Reflect on your thesis.
- Consider examining the advertisement as reflective of larger trends in American advertising in general.
- Provide suggestions and questions for further research.