Sample Essay On The Power Of Visual Ads
Visual stimuli are everywhere. One cannot open their eyes without being bombarded with television commercials, magazine ads, billboards, and a myriad of other visuals. Every visual is created with a specific goal and audience in mind. For the purposes of this paper, both of the visuals to be analyzed are advertisements. Each has a specific people segment the visual is trying to target. In order to evaluate these visuals, several key components will be used. The key components being used are composition, people/other figures, scene, words and tone. The context for both visuals differ from each other. While the Nike visual is clearly an advertisement created to increase sales, the tobacco visual is meant to deter people from purchasing cigarettes. Although both visuals are very different in key components and context, both have a specific message they are portraying and audience they are trying to reach.
Each visual has a unique composition. Both have chosen a simple background, causing the image to stand out. Both consist of the background, and image, and some writing. On the Nike visual, the focal point is the cheetah. The cheetah is photographed straight ahead, and that is the same way it is to be viewed. The photograph has a black background above and below it. The camera has focused in on the cheetah, making the greenery in the background of the photograph itself blurry. This is to give the viewer the feeling that the cheetah is running fast, even though it is a still picture. The black background contains white writing. The anti-tobacco ad’s focal point is the box of crayon cigarettes. The image is set up so that the viewer feels like they are looking slightly down at it, as if they are getting ready to pull a cigarette out to smoke themselves. The cigarette box is obviously meant to be a Marlboro brand box, since it features Marlboro’s trademark red and white design (Marlboro.com - Official Website for Marlboro Cigarettes. (n.d.). The writing is in red crayon and a black type, both creating a specific thought when read..
The next key factor includes people and other main figures. The lack of a person is the most obvious similarity that these visuals both possess. Lack of a person in these ads actually adds to the messages they are portraying. By not having a person or people, the ads reach a broader audience. If the Nike ad featured a man or women who obviously runs every day, people who are not interested in running would overlook the ad. Featuring people in the anti-tobacco ad might allow the viewer to ignore the problem as an economic or ethnic one. The creator of the visuals clearly used the lack of humans to speak to the viewer and allow the viewer to imagine themselves as being the one spoken to.
The Nike ad contains a recognizable scene, while the anti-tobacco ad does not. The scene in the Nike ad is a cheetah running. Many people have seen this scene while watching The Discovery Channel or Animal Planet. The background is a blur of green plants, while the foreground is the cheetah. Right before the picture was shot the cheetah had touched ground to take its next stride. After the picture, the cheetah would land in order to push forward again. Since the cheetah is running so fast, the viewer can assume it is either running after prey or running from a predator. The anti-tobacco ad has no recognizable scene, but does contain the crayon image that looks like a child is about to take one out and color with it. Having the crayon be a cigarette in a crayon wrapper makes one realize the child is about to smoke the faux crayon instead of color with it.
Another similarity both visuals have is the use of text. The Nike ad uses words to remind the viewer that the cheetah is fast. They play on the fact that the cheetah is the fastest mammal in the world, and able to go from 0-60 miles per hour in 3 seconds (Cheetahs, Cheetah Pictures, Cheetah Facts, n.d.). It makes one think of going fast themselves. They also use a clever play on words, indicating that the cheetah is the master of speed and Nike is the master of sneakers using the same sentence. It is a triumphant tone in the words. The anti-tobacco ad contains words as well. In red crayon and a child’s handwriting the ad says “Just Like Mommy”. It makes one think about how children mimic the adults around them. Underneath the crayon writing is black typed words reminding people that children of smokers are more likely to smoke themselves. It provides the clue that parents should quit smoking for their kid’s sake. The tone of the text is ironic, because most of the time we want our children to be like us.
These two visuals provide completely different tones. The Nike ad is a motivational tone. By using the cheetah, who is the best runner, the ad motivates the viewer to be the best. This contrasts the tone of the anti-tobacco ad. The anti-tobacco ad is very shocking and somber. By taking an object, like crayons, that is associated with childhood, and turning it into something deadly like cigarettes, the viewer is shocked at first. Once the viewer reads the text, the tone becomes more somber. The tone each advertisement has chosen is appropriate given their different purposes and audience.
All of these key components come together to achieve the rhetorical context of the visual’s. The main purpose of the Nike ad is to sell shoes. The target audience is runners, both men and women. Nike published this ad, and has a history of unique ads. It is most famous for the tagline “Just Do It” and the Nike swoosh (The 10 Best Slogans and Taglines of All Time, n.d.). The cheetah ad was published in magazines. The written text and image are integral to each other. The image of the cheetah in mid-stride with the blurry background indicates the cheetah is moving at a fast speed. The words, “What is the secret to speed? Ask the master.” cause the viewer to remember the well-known fact that cheetahs are the fastest mammal in the world, therefore they are the master of speed. There is the double meaning as well, since it indicates Nike as the master as well. Of course, there is the assumption that the viewer will know that cheetahs are the master of speed. The Nike swoosh is also well place since it is put at the end of the sentence, “Ask the master.” The placement of Nike’s famous logo draws the viewer to put the sentence together with the Nike brand.
The rhetorical context of the anti-tobacco ad is much different than the Nike ad. The purpose of the ad is to convince parents and other adults to quit smoking, especially around children. Although the ad is for all smokers, it specifically targets parents who smoke. The ad was put out by Action on Smoking and Health, otherwise known as ASH. ASH is known for its anti-tobacco ads and educating the public on current tobacco policies. The receive funding for ads through donations from the public as well as organizations such as the Framework Convention Alliance, American Cancer Society, World Health Organization Tobacco Free Initiative, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, and many more (Key Allies, n.d.). This ad was originally published in a magazine. Much like the Nike ad, the image and text in the anti-tobacco ad complement each other. The image uses the crayon cigarettes to conjure up the thought of children and tobacco together. The child’s scrawl in crayon saying, “Just like mommy” reminds us all how impressionable children are. Then the statistic that children whose parents or siblings smoke are three more times more likely to smoke than those who live in non-smoking households brings the picture and words together. Society has turned against smoking, and this ad enforces that. We all know smoking causes cancer and other health issues, and not a one of us would wish that on our children. The ad uses the well-known health issues associated with smoking to enforce the thought that we do not want to encourage smoking in our children. The ad does assume we already have some knowledge of the fight against tobacco, and the health issues associated with cigarette use. Cigarette companies are trying to sell their product to a younger market in order to garner lifelong customers; this ad is in direct contrast to the advertising goals of cigarette companies.
These are just two advertisements in a large sea of visual stimuli. Through analyzing the key components and context of each advertisement, their audience and purpose is clear. Nike has the goal of reaching runners with their ad, using the cheetah as a reminder that Nike shoes will help a runner go fast. On the other hand, ASH created a public service announcement by using a shocking ad to encourage people who live with children to stop smoking for their child’s sake. Despite their differences in audience and purpose, both ads ultimately send a clear and concise message to the viewer and effectively reach their target auudiences.
Cheetahs, Cheetah Pictures, Cheetah Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved April 5, 2015, from http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/cheetah/
Key Allies. (n.d.). Retrieved April 5, 2015, from http://ash.org/resources/key-allies/
Marlboro.com - Official Website for Marlboro Cigarettes. (n.d.). Retrieved April 5, 2015, from https://www.marlboro.com/
The 10 Best Slogans and Taglines of All Time. (n.d.). Retrieved April 5, 2015, from http://www.qualitylogoproducts.com/lib/10-best-slogans-of-all-time.htm