advertising in photography (photography degree, year 1, essay 3)

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First year, third term essay on Advertising in Photography for BA Photography (Hons) at Nottingham Trent University (NTU). This one got an A :-)Original title:Question 15: Advertising images function in particular ways to make us desire the product. Compare and contrast two advertisements that use photography, highlighting the ways they are intended to communicate with their intended audience.

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Year 1, Essay 3Question 15Advertising images function in particular ways to make us desire the product. Compare and contrast two advertisements that use photography, highlighting the ways they are intended to communicate with their intended audience.

Dan Foy

BA Hons Photography

Module No: Seminar tutor: Word count:

PHOT100058 Malcolm Brice 3054

Advertising images function in particular ways to make us desire the product. Compare and contrast two advertisements that use photography, highlighting the ways they are intended to communicate with their intended audience.

Advertisements are an inescapable element of modern life.

They are

everywhere: obvious posters and leaflets on the sides of shops and at points of sale, billboards on busy roads, in between programmes on commercial television stations and content on websites, hidden in viral videos on YouTube, masquerading as articles in newspapers and magazines. They take the form of photographs in magazines and newspapers and on billboards, moving images on television and the Internet, audio clips on radio stations and during podcasts, and as text, logos, and other branding adorning virtually every consumable in every market. In newer arenas, such as the Internet, advertisements are even disguised as interactive games or system warnings, albeit with variable success. There are numerous motives a company may have for creating

advertisements, such as to promote a particular product line, the brand as a whole, or a certain mindset beneficial to a companys goals. The range of genres within photography that a advertising agency are able to choose from in order to communicate their clients message to their target audience is as varied as the different motivations for creating these images. In product photography alone, for instance, there is the clean studio style, in which a product is isolated from a contextual background and is instead lit evenly with studio lighting and set against a seamless light or coloured background, or else lit selectively with grids and snoots and set against a darker background for a moodier, more dramatic feel. Alternatively, some products may be set against contextual backgrounds and photographed on-set or on-site, as is often the case with restaurant menus and furniture catalogues. Product

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photos may also be a combination of the two, with meticulously studio-lit products placed within a separately photographed or rendered location in post production, or against (or within) abstract backdrops, as with the iconic iPod advertisements. Different styles of photograph offer different aesthetics that can be used by photographers and advertising agencies to more effectively communicate with the intended audience for the advert. For the purpose of illustration, I have selected two photograph-based advertisements from separate multinationals. Both images, although described here in isolation, belong to larger sets of materials for their respective advertising campaigns. The first is from a campaign by The CocaCola Company advertising their flagship product in 2009-10; the second is part of the online marketing for the 2007 version of Apples iMac desktop computer. I have purposely chosen two images that are similar in their formal presentation, in order to show how photographs shot using similar methods can communicate very different messages to their audiences. The Coca-Cola advertisement (Appendix A) consists of bottle of Coke with the text Aaahhh formed above it in what appears to be Coca-Cola that has burst out of the bottle. The image is of the product-on-white style described above, with a faded reflection underneath the bottle the only indicator that the bottle may be in a physical space. The bottle is of the uncommon glass variety, is perspiring and is adorned with small clumps of ice. Coca-Cola branding is visible in three places: the logo in the top left, the logo on the bottle bottom centre, and also through the iconic Coca-Cola font that is used for the Aaahhh text. into liquid. mouth. The Apple advert (Appendix B) follows a similar format a product shot on a clean white background, save for subtle shadows underneath the products. Unlike the Coca-Cola advert, however, Apples image does not contain fantastical elements. It features two subjects: the then current model of iMac, Dan Foy Year 1, Essay 3 3 The Aaahhh text is defying gravity, yet is peppered with explosive splashes of the type that are created when small items are dropped An extended serif from the A in Aaahhh underlines the proceeding letters, and at its terminus morphs into an impression of an open

and a Dell XPS 410 tower and monitor set. Each subject is equipped with a selection of peripherals and is shot in what could be considered the profile for each product, perpendicular to the front of the monitor. The image features just two tones, a light grey and a near black, with the same shade of grey used for a thin line that separates the products, and also for small text labels underneath the units which state their respective brands and product names. The iMac is connected via aesthetically wrapped white cables to a keyboard and mouse; the XPS is connected via an unruly mess of black cable to a mouse, keyboard, monitor (including a separate cable to the basemounted speakers), webcam, and wireless transmitter. Despite the formal similarities between the two images, the context in which they would originally have been viewed is significantly different, which is an important consideration whilst viewing these images out of context. The Coca-Cola image was intended to be used in print, both in reading material and on small billboards such as those on the sides of bus stops, and was a small element in a much larger campaign, which also featured video adverts on television and before movies at the cinema. It is an invasive type of advertisement that is forced upon a viewer during a separate activity i.e. reading, watching a movie, or waiting for a bus. This contrasts the Apple image, which appeared on Apples website in the guise of an informational image, and required several mouse clicks to purposefully access, and is not something that a viewer would have been likely to stumble upon in its original context if he or she was not already researching into the product. These differences mean that the images have to function in different ways: the CocaCola advert is viewed incidentally, and must draw the attention of the viewer through novel imagery a new type of image for the prospective viewer to consume. Conversely, the Apple image is something that a potential viewer must purposefully seek out (despite its potential as a viral image by brandloyal Apple consumers reproduced on forums, blogs, and other Internet-based social channels), and therefore can afford to concentrate less on branding and brand recognition and more on the benefits of its product.

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Despite their apparent formal similarities, each image is specifically suited to its individual purpose. The Coca-Cola advert is presented in the portrait orientation, which makes it ideally suited to fill a single page of an A4 magazine or an entire bus stop billboard, without sharing page real-estate with other distracting advertisements, guiding the viewer to concentrate solely on the images message. Online images work differently, and Apples image is presented in landscape, as this is the orientation of most computer monitors. Taking into account the monitor shape, and also the fact that most web browsers have at best navigation buttons across the top or, at worst, numerous height-stealing toolbars, Apples image is ideally shaped to fit inside a single browser window without the need for a viewer to scroll. Although in its original context the Apple image masquerades as an informational reference, it clearly exists with promotional intent. By directly comparing its product to that of a competitor, Apple proposes that the viewer has a free choice in product, which at a basic level is a functional tool, whilst at the same time clearly positioning its product as the obvious choice based on its materialistic qualities. This is an effective strategy as, according to two authors on the subject, Sturken and Cartwright (2009, p.266), the concept of consumer choice is central to capitalistic consumer cultures. The choice of competitor is also significant Dell was formed as a small, independently owned and run business that sold lower-than-retail-cost machines running Microsoft Windows, tailored with components of the customers choice, directly to the customer. This contrasts Apples premium product model of manufacturing both hardware and software for its products, and optimising its products to work with a very limited selection of components. Whilst Dells model was initially very successful, by 2006 the company was beginning to collapse under its own weight, and between 2006 and 2008 the company had a series of issues with poor customer service and faulty components. Through this association, Dell becomes the lumbering and ineffective commercial monster, whilst Apple rises as the nimble and innovative alternative. This is clearly referenced in Apples image through Apples innovative design and considered cable placement, versus their presentation of the Dell product as cumbersome and unwieldy, mirroring Apple in design

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materials and colour palette but ultimately failing to break from the conventional. Apple achieves this practically through product photography alone, without the lengthy marketing copy and the endorsement of perfect, happy Arian faces and direct commands to buy found in the adverts of the 30s and 40s, which respects the contemporary independent and advertising-savvy consumer of 2007. The i