Advertisement analysis –Tesco’s 1097 We humans are programmed or born with the inherent desire to satiate our needs. Freud talked of this primitive libido, this innate need of humanity to want (perhaps for self-preservation ultimately. ) Freud argued about the importance of the unconscious mind in understanding conscious thought and behaviour . Advertising has tapped into this primitive human libido or want desire.
Advertisers use the unconscious mind to foist implicit and explicit signs and signifiers, applying cultural connotations, employing exclusion as much as inclusion, the advertiser’s intention is to gain a proliferation of positive attention for their product. I have selected an advertisement made for Tesco’s ‘Fair-trade fortnight’, found in The Guardian’s weekend supplement. We read adverts as a whole, unconsciously absorbing all of the elements, signs, implicit and explicit, that are designed to work in unison.
The mental short-hand we use for deciphering pictures and words to decode them, which is especially pertinent to advertising, immediately informs us that the advertisement is not for pleasure, but for our attention; to encourage us to choose one brand over another, and to consume. Tesco’s advert implicitly implies nature’s bounty with its visual choice of hessian and wicker staging, the use of cardboard for the pricing tickets suggestive of company ethics imbued with moral high-ground.
The foreground is awash with pictorial suggestions of far-off fields and farming, with healthy, working age, seemingly relaxed workers, enjoying their tasks in the sun. The advert presents what we in the West would consider every day luxuries. The visual signifiers of consumable pleasure: bananas, coffee, chocolate, nuts; these are all food stuffs that cannot be produced in Britain. Freud’s theory of the Id would tap into our want of these luxuries. The future consumer, having seen the product, may acknowledge the want, and convert it into a reality, quenching (Freud’s theory of) the Ego.
Utilising this want the advert infers that via fair-trade, the consumer is able to go further afield for this produce, enabling the want without moral reproach; not only can the human have what it desires, but it can achieve it without guilt, assuaging (Freud’s theory of) the Superego and its connotations of the punitive. Tesco’s advert plays on this wish-fulfilment that drives the human in its quest for quelling desire. In very large type, mimicking handwriting, he title of the advert shrieks Every little helps, playing on the loyal fan bases need to spend little, but likely, (with the fair-trade theme of the advert) to be an explicit enticement for a more affluent customer experiencing financial strain, to switch from the more high end supermarkets to a more basic and affordable one. The main body of the advert is fairly utilitarian; implicitly signifying that this is a necessity buy, an advert with a more glamorous look is often aimed at the encouragement or stimulation of consumption of a luxury purchase.
A secondary heading of Fair-trade fortnight uses alliteration to make it a memorable tag-line. The advert has a (relatively small) label icon, imploring the consumer to show off their label. This provides the function of anchoring the implied ethic with imagery, suggests that whilst indulging in wish fulfilment we can improve the plight of our third world neighbours. This is secondary to the advertisers aim though, the intention is to sell.
This advertisement seems aimed at a predominantly white population, it almost romanticises the areas of food production that have, until recently, been visually and consciously concealed. Tesco’s original ‘pile it high and sell it cheap’ stance had affects elsewhere on food producers further down the chain, but of course these were silent until relatively recently and the public are now beginning to recognise that a small monetary cost to buy, leads to exploitation in unseen societies elsewhere. Tesco’s has chosen a very natural packaging style for this advert, eschewing its usual cheaper less environmental counterpart.
Aspiration is represented within the advert and the packaging, as the ethics of food is seen to be grounded in the middle-classes, (a non necessity, therefore first taking hold within the wealthier citizens). It’s notable that emblazoned in red, 20% off in a disproportionally large circle, the advertiser’s ace card, utilising the subliminal; humans notice red for obvious physiological reasons. Beneath it also swathed in scarlet a loyalty device, Keep earning club points, promoting a new buying habit for residual customers, and hoping to retain new and more affluent consumers.
As food production awareness gathers momentum the company has to redirect its approach to continue to flourish. To replace Tesco’s old persona with a new more ethically aware substitute, maybe a much needed new PR strategy. Openly presenting their increasing awareness and support for fair-trade, but veiling the capitalist strategy, behind the promotion must surely be statistical evidence that fair-trade purchases in Britain are on the increase. Tesco’s may be watching these changing retail trends and thinking it is a very good time indeed to promote a more ethical persona.
Tesco’s has recently been dragged through the politicisation and higher public awareness of the food industry, its origins and ethics. This heightened awareness culminated in a tactic by protestors, mocking the Tesco’s logo, reproducing it onto t-shirts, but replacing Tesco with Fiasco. In the public domain there exists such proselysatizations as a Face Book group, actively encouraging the public to boycott Tesco’s stores. Gillian Rose says that ‘the rendering [of an image] is never innocent. She discusses whether the meanings of an image may be presented ‘explicitly or implicitly, consciously or consciously’ . Our reaction to an image is likely to be informed by the cultural implications associated with that image, and the connotation it conjures within our understanding. In Fyfe and Law’s work they state that we must enquire into a visualisation’s provenance, and note its principles of inclusion and exclusion in order understand it. Therefore I end my piece about Tesco’s campaign with this fact from Tesco’s PLC (website).
In the five year summary report the graph clearly shows that each employee generates ? 14,303 million pounds, (2010). This fact is not advertised by Tesco’s, and is as inexplicit as possible. It would be a fair appraisal to state, should Tesco’s customers be consciously aware of the profit margins they may be less comfortable shopping there. Bibliography Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams Gillian Rose, Visual Methodologies Jonathan Bignell, Media semiotics http://www. tescoplc. com/plc/ir/, accessed 20-03-11 8 June 2010 20. 13 BST, accessed 10-03-11 , accessed 16-03-11
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