Analysis of Magazine Ads
Magazines offer many benefits that make them the vehicle of choice for advertisers of high involvement think and feel goods and services. Some advantages are the ability to access a specific target audience with high quality presentations such as brilliant color reproduction. Magazines also allow for accommodating design options, prestige, influence, believability, and long shelf life. (Arens, 2009)However, magazines also have some draw backs including costliness, and the fact that many magazines come out monthly or weekly making it difficult to build reach and frequency in a short period of time. (Arens, 2009)
The qualities of a magazine are very medium specific that is why analyzing the layout of a magazine ad requires certain criteria to be kept in mind: the design must be in balance, the space must be broken up into pleasing proportions, a directional pattern must be evident guiding the reader, some force should hold the ad together and give it unity, and a certain element must have enough emphasis to dominate all others. (Arens, 2009)In print advertising, the key format features are visuals, headlines, subheads, body copy, slogans, seals, logos, and signatures. Each of these elements correspond to a step in the advertising pyramid:
The visual and headline capture the attention of the readers and generate awareness. The subheads and copy arouse interest and provide information that increases credibility and desire. The logo or slogan calls for action. The synergetic effect makes for more effective advertising.
Time Out Beirut, November 2009, featured an ad for Durex play, orgasmic gel for women. This ad is of particular interest because, despite the fact that Lebanon is considered one of the most liberal countries in the Middle East, sex is still considered taboo in Lebanese culture. “Young, unmarried couples are forced to seek out secret erotic oases. Books and play that are devoted to the all too human topic of sex incur the wrath of conservative religious officials and are promptly banned.”(Steinvorth, 2006) So an ad placed so blatantly in contrast with the predominant attitude towards sex is bound to capture attention. Furthermore, the use of a black male model may seem a tad alienating since the ad casts a minority in Lebanon and lacks representativeness. The man in this ad is not a dominant figure only his back shows, which makes sense since this product is for women, so the woman is the main focus of the image. Of course her appearance conforms to the sometimes impossible standards of beauty set by the media, like being a size 0. Ironically, usually the ‘sex-sells’ appeal is used for products not very sexual in nature, however in this case the sex approach is only appropriate. The blissful moment captured by the image is set in the background and the product being sold here is set forth.
The headline “no more faking it” is straightforward regardless of the general ambiguity of the word ‘it’ which is immediately understood to mean orgasms. The diction used in the copy, “delicious orgasms should be everyone’s to enjoy” appeals to the readers sexuality inviting them to read on to find out more about this “exciting new product that will heighten sensitivity, increase sensation and revolutionize your sex life.” All very sexy adjectives. At the bottom of the ad, in smaller font, information about Durex is given and they invite the reader to visit their website, proof that the Durex brand has an online presence and is an active social media member. The brand logo is place in the upper left corner of the ad; typically the first place people look at when reading an ad. Finally, the ad calls the reader to action, “are you ready?”
The overall feel of the ad screams out “SEX”. The characters are shown in a very intimate position and the woman is dressed in a very provocative way. This is where an emotional response is experienced; however the ad also provides information about the brand and product.
Shape Middle East, magazine, October 2010, contained an advertisement for the Spinneys Dubai 92km Cycle challenge. The ad utilizes a command headline, where it demands the reader do something, “Enter the Spinneys …Challenge” The copy provides more details about the event, and is very informational. The logos of sponsors are produced at the bottom of the page, with the major sponsor, ‘Dubai Sports Council’ dominating the upper right corner. The copy also includes a website that offers more information, again alluding to the importance of social media.
The copy claims that the event “caters to all levels of cyclists, from amateurs to professionals and veterans” however the image is conquered by men. It seems like the visual contradicts the passage because it excludes a large number of the population, namely women. Before going on to accuse the ad of sexism one must acknowledge the context. United Emirates is a predominantly Muslim country, and women are not portrayed as excessively as men. However, United Emirates prides itself on believing in equality between men and women, “The right of UAE women to take part in the development of all areas of their society is laid out in the UAE Constitution, adopted when the federation was founded in 1971.” (“using APA”, n.d.) Maybe a hint of sexism, definite ostracization. The image is an action shot-capturing the men while cycling, furthermore, the shot is bottom-up making the men look even more dominant, perhaps more adventurous. The picture also shows many men subconsciously communicating that this is a popular event that one must take part of, it also states that this is an event where many people unite in pursuit of a common goal.
GRAIA Middle East magazine, Sept-Oct 2010, included a Juicy Couture ad. Even though the product being advertised is Juicy Couture, the advertiser seems to be Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi. There is no copy in this ad, only information that reveals the location and contact information of the mall, and the Juicy Couture website. On the upper right corner of the image is a line that reads, “Juicy fields forever” a play on that famous Beatles Song, “strawberry fields forever.” This is relevant because the background of the image is a field, even though the main focus of the picture is the three women. The models are flawless, two blondes who look like they like to have fun, and a mysterious looking burnet, all tall, and all thin. Stereotypical much? None of the women are looking into the camera, as if this shot was merely capturing a spontaneous moment, rather than being meticulously planned. Juicy Couture is known for its loud fashion and the image correlates to that theme. The props used, the hats, the bike, the scarf’s are all over the place, in fact the picture seems rather cluttered. A little like pop culture these days.
But the ad does more than just live up to the Juicy brand personality, it also fuels the trend for the idealistic beauty and body image standards endorsed by the media. According to the Quebec Action Network for Women’s Health in its 2001 report Changements sociaux en faveur de la diversité des images corporelles, “By presenting an ideal difficult to achieve and maintain, the cosmetic and diet product industries are assured of growth and profits. And its no accident that youth is increasingly promoted, along with thinness, as an essential criterion of beauty.” The consequence of this impossible pursuit of absolute beauty is that more and more girls and women are become dissatisfied with the way they look. In 2003, Teen magazine reported “35% of girls 6-12 years old have been on at least one diet, and that 50 to 70 per cent of normal weight girls believe they are overweight. Overall research indicates that 90% of women are dissatisfied with their appearance in some way.”(2005) Despite this, source attractiveness may result in persuasion through a process of identification whereby the audience is encouraged to seek a relationship with the source thereby adopting their message. (Belch, 2009)
All three ads employ a standard poster style format with a single dominant visual that occupies 60-70% of the ads total area. This usually results in higher recall. The ads also contain cultural implications and surely their messages, whether subliminal or not, have somehow shaped society. The models used in each ad represent the target audience of the product being advertised. In a way, each brand is a personality that attracts people with similar personalities as it appeals to their segmented attitudes. Magazines are an effective way of reaching segmented markets, and the elements that characterize each ad are custom made or customer made to fit each niche.
Arens, Initials. (2009). Contemporary advertising. New York, NY: McGraw-Hll.
Belch, Initials. (2009). Advertising and promotion. San Diego, Ca: McGraw-Hill
Steinvorth, Daniel. (2006). Sex and taboos in the Islamic world. Spiegel Online International, Retrieved from http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,443678,00.html
Shape Middle East Magazine
The Diet Business: Banking on failure. (BBC News World Edition, Feb 5 2003). http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/2725943.stm
The Canadian Women’s Health Network (Body Image and the Media). http://www.cwhn.ca/node/40776
Time Out Beirut Magazine
Not Available, (2011). The Advertising Pyramid. Retrieved from http://www.wcyb.com/station/24819967/detail.htm
Not Available. (n.d.). Women in the UAE. Retrieved from http://www.sheikhmohammed.co.ae/vgn-ext-templating/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=7d3c4c8631cb4110VgnVCM100000b0140a0aRCRD