Contrary to popular belief, images don’t just appear. There are people who work to make them appear visually appealing to all of us, whether it is a film, book cover, or what we read most about in this text, advertisements. Images within advertisements are designed by producers with the intent to create an outcome. Usually this involves selling a product or message. However, there comes a certain point where the producer’s ideas don’t play a role anymore. And that’s where you come in.
Meanings are produced through complex negotiations through which we produce and interpret images. Does that sound like a producer doing all the work here? Nope. Sure, the producer of an image has a big role, but they don’t get to decide how each and every individual viewer will approach the topic or message. Each viewer and consumer has the potential to view an image as a social and relational practice. In other words, they take their social and political backgrounds and make assumptions about the images based on those.
The one huge part that a producer of an image plays, though, is the role of interpellating the viewer. Images interpellate viewers by making them feel as if the image is meant for only them and no one else. Although most individuals are intelligent enough to realize this is not true, especially if their idea goes against the grain, the power of interpellation makes one feel as though the ad is speaking to them. It also has the ability to feel like it’s making a promise of an idealized future self. All of this is something we’d like to believe is true, but really is not possible. That’s why advertisers get paid so much: to do this kind of thing. Here are some examples of ads that make you feel like the center of attention and the product.
The ad above is a perfect example of having that “you” quality in an advertisement. It makes female consumers relate to the woman in the image because although she might have grey hair, she is still gorgeous and beautiful inside and out.
This ad directs the attention straight towards the consumers with the question “What if you had one wish left?”. It makes the viewers consider the question, and then they are directed to the genie holding the lamp, next to the brand new car you wish you have now, right?
Coca Cola’s advertisements have always been good in my book, but recently I have just been blown away by their advertising skills. The “Share a Coke” ads were a hit shortly after they were released, and it is no surprise why. People wanted to not only drink the product, but now they started wanting to drink the products with their names on it. Consumers feel personally connected to the product now and it certainly has formed an interpellation on the viewers.
It is important to remember that although we, as consumers, play a big role in the world of advertising, the producers’ jobs are important because they get us to buy their products. Which is kind of important in the grand scheme of things. So don’t forget to look at those advertisements you see today and think about how you can interpret them in the way the producers intended for you to see it. That’s all for now!