Medium is the Message Structural linguist Ferdinand Saussure, in his text A General Course in Linguistics, first proposed the field of semiotics. It was later adopted and advanced by theorists such as Roland Barthes who extended the analysis to not just words, but to visual signs in contemporary media…
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The first sign was from a Prudential magazine advertisement that appeared in the New Yorker. With this concept in mind it’s clear that the denotative intentions of the advertiser were to reach a more educated audience, who already has a general understanding of financial aspects and upper-level vocabulary and comprehension skills. In these regards, the extent the audience is clearly middle to upper class and educated. There are a great many visual techniques elements in the signification mechanisms in the advertisement. The first notable concept is that the advertising consists of a full page spread with an entirely dark blue background. The effect of this sign is such that it creates a juxtaposing effect in relation to the heavy text-based stories that constitute the majority of the magazine. In terms of specific pictures, in the upper-right hand of the advertisement a city backdrop is pictured in muted-tones. The signification of this imagery seems to indicate that Prudential has an urban feel, perhaps reminiscent of Wall Street. This is further indicative of an understanding of financial systems as being rooted in industrial or urban life. The very functions of the urban experience demonstrate the gear and wheels of the working economy; indeed, right next to the picture of buildings are pictures of gears in motion that connotatively demonstrate this point. Pictured even further to the left of these individuals is a small man in yellow. The implication of this signs seems to empathize with the potential customer or client. In essence, the advertising is situating the reader in the position of the small man in yellow, and the Prudential advertisement is saying that through going to Prudential for financial advice will result in the individual being able to navigate this challenging urban environment. The overall signification of the advertisement seems to indicate that through Prudential’s experience the reader will be able to navigate the challenges of the contemporary financial environment. It implements contrast to bring out the heading ‘Bring Your Challenges’ which also signifies the denotative theme of the advertisement (New Yorker). It also displays this theme in connotative ways through the juxtaposition of the small man in yellow and the city backdrop. Ultimately, the advertisement sign has a denotative theme – ‘Bring Your Challenges’ – that is connoted through textual and visual ways as a means of appealing to the reader with the greatest possible emotional impact. The next advertisement considered is from ESPN the Magazine. The advertisement is for an online poker site, PokerStars.net. The denotative sign consists of an individual in the background sitting next to a poker table. The individual appears to be throwing grenades onto the table. In the foreground there is a picture of an individual’s hand holding two playing cards. Above the cards are the words ‘fight or flight’ (ESPN the Magazine). Perhaps most notable about this sign in relation to the sign that was featured in the New Yorker is the drastically less amount of text that is implemented. One can make an ideological statement on this, indicating that it represents the decreased median education level of readers of ESPN the Magazine as compared to the New Yorker. In terms of the
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