Posted by: B. Scott Anderson | April 24, 2014

Decoding advertisements

In the “Exploring the Audience’s Role: A Decoding Model for the 21st Century,” I sort of became confused when it came to popular culture inside advertising text. In this section, the authors said that while the “personal self inside the advertisement” knows the people they are putting into the advertisement, the “popular culture inside advertising text” is where the participant puts the character known at arms length. Do I have this confused with the similar concepts of parasocial relationships and/or identification? I know that parasocial interaction is feeling like you know someone that you’re seeing on TV that you don’t really know; identification is much more feeling like you like them or are similar to them.

Whatever the case, it’s clear that culture has a major influence on how advertisements are decoded by all people. If you think about it, advertisers have an amazing amount of power in order to motivate people to buy their products. But how they go about using that power is paramount. One example that jumps to mind are all the diet pill commercials on television. According to the ads, people simply pop a pill and then it will seem like they are magically transported to the beach with six-pack abs and perfect lives. It’s a tempting ad because people want to see themselves in that scenario. Is it ethical? A fair representation? Probably neither, but they’re interesting ads and they’re clearly working on people.

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