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CONSUMERISM AND ADVERTISING

CONSUMERISM AND ADVERTISING

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Assignment:
Write a essay that provides a semiotic analysis on one of the text options noted below (e.g.
advertisement, shop, package). Construct a specific and argumentative thesis statement that
makes an assertion about what the text tells the viewer about American culture or the American
consumer. DO NOT WRITE ABOUT SEX UNLESS YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY
THAT IS NOT OBVIOUS. IF YOUR POINT IS “SEX SELLS” OR “ADVERTISERS ARE
USING SEX TO CAPTURE OUR ATTENTION” THEN YOU WILL RECEIVE A “C” AT
THE HIGHEST SINCE THAT IS AN OBVIOUS POINT.
For example, you might assert that “Advertisers try to appeal to the consumer’s paradoxical
need to excel and the need to be like everyone else.” Then by analyzing the text you have
selected, you will support your thesis statement. Other support should include ideas and
assertions from the articles we have read for this unit as they relate to your argument.
1. Select 1-2 ads or a commercial and provide a semiotic analysis of the ads. You should
address the following questions: To which needs does the advertisement appeal? What
signs are used to present these appeals or how are they used to convey a message to the
audience? Is it directed to a specific audience? Does the ad portray certain values?
If addressing more than one ad, you may also want to consider the following questions:
do the ads appeal to similar or different needs? Do they use similar signs to present
these appeals? Are they directed to the same or different audiences? Include the
advertisement(s) when you submit your essay.
2. Select a product and analyze the packaging. Again, what signs are used to convey a
message to the audience? Is the packaging directed to a specific audience? Does the
packaging portray certain values?
You may also compare and contrast the packaging of 2-3 different brands of that
product. What are some of the similarities and differences? Do not provide merely a
literal comparison/contrast; instead, discuss what these elements of packaging suggest
about our cultural practices and beliefs.
3. Semiotically analyze a store. Discuss how the store uses certain signs to appeal to a
specific group or demographic. Consider different aspects such as layout, space, store
name, personnel, nearby stores, etc. Discuss whether certain values are portrayed
through the store’s signs.
Objectives:
* To think critically about the way in which America or other cultures have become
consumer cultures.
* To think critically about the signs that are used in the world of consumerism use and to
provide a semiotic analysis of a text from that world.
* To utilize other writers’ theories to help support and/or to articulate your own opinions
and disagreements with those writers.
* To provide a central thesis statement and to support that thesis statement with evidence
from your analysis.

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