Over the years, advertisers have been looking for new ways to get their point across. They do this in a number of ways, but mostly my suggesting that we the viewer should be thinking about the connotations of what we see on our TV screens. The idea that what we see can be associated with what we already know is not a new one however. The relationship between what we see and what we feel has been studied my many such as Saussure and Barthes. Both wrote about concepts relating to connotation and signs in the media, which I will be referring to in my analysis of the advert.
The advert which I have chosen is part of a series of adverts promoting “Virgin Mobile. ” It features Busta Rhymes and is set onboard a private jet. The opening shot is from the outside of the jet. We know that is private jet because it is obviously too small to be a commercial aircraft. Through general connotations we assume that the occupants are wealthy or famous. Then, the next shot is of the interior of the plane where we see Busta getting up out of his seat. The whole advert has a very cinematic feel to it, with high contrast and an expensive looking set.
As Busta stands up we see that he is wearing a lot of gold. Our pre-conceptions of people who wear lots of gold again tell us that these people are rich which affirms the previous sign given by the shot of the jet. This is showing the application of Saussure and Barthes’ theories Virgin Mobile, 17. 2. 04, CH4 “Signifier was also described by Barthes as ‘meaning’ (for example, word) Signified was also described as ‘form’ (for example, object)” Price S. 1998 “Media Studies,” Page 70. Virgin Mobile, 17. 2. 04, CH4
Busta then makes his way down towards the r ear of the plane, passing friends as he goes, who all want to shake his hand. He is then approached by a good-looking woman who speaks close to him and says “Nice jet Busta. ” She then looks at him seductively. Her appearance is also a clear sign; she is dressed in designer clothes and looks like a model. At this point we begin to realise that the advertisers want male viewers to idolise Busta. He has money, good clothes, lots of gold and he has beautiful women around him.
“Ideology was a term first used in France at the end of the eighteenth century, originally meant a study of ideas, later being used to mean a certain type of belief system and eventually referring to belief systems in general. So ‘ideology’ refers to ideas and beliefs – but more significantly to systems of belief. ” Price S. 1998″Media Studies,” Page 123. Up until this point in the advert there have been some subtle elements of ideological discourse. It is the use of linguistics and language genre to achieve a sense of power over the viewer.
The language that we hear during the second shot as Busta moves down the plane is all significant. The sense of power created by his friends all congratulating him and the beautiful woman having a private word with him is combined with the signs were given at the very start of the advert to re-enforce our feelings of idolisation for Busta. Virgin Mobile, 17. 2. 04, CH4 After his encounter with the woman, Busta continues to the toilet. It is at this point when the advert reaffirms its cinematic qualities. Normal narrative structure for a television advert is said to be more predictable than that of a film.
At this point, the signs which we are being shown are contradicting those which we saw in the opening two shots. The act of going to the toilet holds no currency in the system of belief which we have adopted. We are in a transition point between Busta being idolised to no longer being idolised. His wealth is still signified by objects in the toilet. Everything is gold plated, and there are buttons and gadgets for him to use. But when he comes to use the third button, the button that flushes the toilet, he is sucked down screaming and kicking.
His friends out in the cabin of the plane all look towards the door of the toilet and groan in disgust. He is no longer the idol he was originally portrayed to be. Virgin Mobile, 17. 2. 04, CH4 The next shot is of the outside of the toilet door. There is an engraved plaque which reads “The devil makes work for idol thumbs. ” We would describe this as an icon. “Icon – a sign which is identical or similar to what it represents. Index – where there is a direct link between the sign and what it represents. Symbol – where the sign has only a symbolic or ‘conventional’ link with what it is supposed to represent.
” Price S. 1998 “Media Studies,” Page 123 As you can see, the icon is meant as a warning, and is re-enforced in the actual advert by a voice over which also says the same thing. There is a sense of irony in the fact the Busta had everything, the glamorous lifestyle and fashionable clothes, but he died in the most unglamorous way ever, on the toilet. The words “keep yours busy, text another virgin mobile for 3p” are an icon and have been offered to us by the advertisers as a solution to having idle thumbs. Critically speaking, I feel the advertisers have used the codes and conventions of advertising well.
They have played on the public’s systems of belief and our instinctive want for wealth. Although the subject matter in the advert has little to do with what they were trying to sell, the advert serves it’s purpose by getting our attention before it is finally revealed to us at the end what they want us to buy.
Bibliography: Price, S. Media Studies: Second Edition (Longman 1998) Selby, K. Cowdery R. How to study Television (Palgrave Study Guides, New York 1995) Berger, A. Media Analysis Techniques (Sage 1991)