A discussion of advertising through analysis of two different adverts.
In order for advertisements to succesfully portray a product, they must be directed to the appropriate intended audience. Magazines, in general, are usually geared towards a specific audience with distinct interests. Therefore, the `ads’ need to be carefully designed to attract the attentions of the magazine reader. This very concept is well displayed in the two selected, yet very different, magazine ads from the software magnate Microsoft Corporation. The first ad is taken from Computer Games Strategy Plus – a gaming magazine, as one might infer from the title. The product `Monster Truck Madness’ is a computer video game designed, quite obviously, for entertainment purposes. The second ad is from PC World, which is of a much more technical nature than its previous counterpart. The product in this ad is `Microsoft Project for Windows 95′, a software used for businesses and project development teams. The `Monster Truck Madness’ ad encaptivates the casual browser with its bright yellow background with a large purple type set across the top of the page accompanied by the words: `Size Matters”. This leads the reader to ponder the meaning of this rather unusual phrase and to further read the smaller print. Here, the reader encounters an irregular font of different sizes to accentuate certain words. While this may be annoying to many, its overall purpose is to create a lively playful environment through the usage of fonts. This, of course, is an attempt to appeal to a younger gaming audience. On the other hand, the `Microsoft Project’ ad does not envoke any visual desire read further into the text. The sections are divided into fine print paragraphs with a slightly larger heading above. Everything is set plainly and unassumingly. This can be justified to mirror an American professional’s lifestyle: simple, neat, and organized. The first four lines in the `Monster Truck’ ad: “bigger tires, bigger competition, bigger thrills, bigger mud-splitting” uses repetition to accentuate the fact that this game is bigger and better than all the other racing car games. Microsoft then introduces the product in a rather blunt manner but just stating the title of the game. The reader is then asked to “strap yourself into a 1,500 horsepower tower of American pig iron, punch it when the light turns green, and you’re in for the biggest race of your life.” Having read this far, the reader should be overwhelmed by the forceful way the ad delivers its message. From this, one can derive the intent to parallel the `brute force and run over everything attitude’ that only a monster truck can possess, in the text. The `Project’ ad explains very straight-forwardly what the software is capable of doing for the readers and their businesses. What this lacks in excitement is made up for through a very complete description of the product. This is appropriate for the intended audience: no-nonsense, no-hassle businessmen. Strangely enough, the `Monster Truck’ ad, in sharp contrast, discusses absolutely nothing about the actual game itself. Instead it elaborates on other parts of the ad more important to persuading the intended group of people. The pictures and images are, of course, `everything’ to an advertisement. They retrieve preconceptions from each individual without using words at all. Consequently, these pictures must express a meaning related to its intended purpose – in this case, to sell the product. In the `Monster Truck’ ad, the first image the reader should notice is the massive blue and yellow monster truck. Certainly because it is the largest picture, but also because it is seemingly `standing’ on its back tires. My first impression of this picture was one of pure awe. I imagine hearing the powerful revving of the engine and the massive tires rumbling through the grass. However, if the reader has no preconception of what a monster truck is or how large it is, this picture may be nothing more impressive than a Micro Machine. Nextly, two additional pictures are taken from the computer game itself. Both, in an attempt to impress the viewer, are taken at an inspiring frame deserving of a highlight reel. The viewer can see the rich color and high resolution details of each individual screenshot. The purple monster truck in mid-air flying off a ramp is strategically positioned in the exact middle of the photo, bringing all attention to the truck. The picture on the lower left shows the interior of the vehicle, the speedometer and tachometer; everything a real-life monster truck would have. Lastly, the last corner of the rectangle holds the picture of the box of the software. This is most likely intended to allow the reader to recognize the box when they head over to the store. The quote in the picture: “Down and Dirty Racing”, goes to emphasize the fact that the game is not intended for the faint hearted conservative but rather for the hardcore gamer. Conversely, the pictures in the `Project’ ad are very realistic to one’s life compared to the `virtual’ world of the `Monster Truck’ game. The central picture is, of course, the businessman who is denoted by the blue collared shirt, tie and neat appearance. The man has a Windows 95 `Start’ button on his head possibly symbolizing that all ideas start within the mind. From here, small blurbs of photos are linked together. One is a flowchart of coworkers connected on a board, signifying the need for companies to work and communicate together in order to be successful. The second is a building made up for wooden blocks allowing, as the title states, teams to visualize where the project is going. Next is photo is a small boy whispering into the ear of a girl. While this can signfy communication among everyone, instead I believe it to be the man’s children to show that he is a successful business and family man. Lastly, the final link goes to a picture of the box `Microsoft Project’. This relates the software to the other items by linking the results that your company will receive when you buy `Microsoft Project’. Also, this box is Microsoft’s way of allowing you to remember what it looks like at the store. The box is simple, neat and organized signifying the orderly fashion of a company. One clear lacking of this ad are pictures from the actual software itself. It may be safe to assume that the software is just a large array of icons and there is nothing amazing to look at. Once more, as stated at the beginning of the paragraph, a business type is more concerned with `real world’ pictures rather than one of the `virtual’ gaming world. Two very different advertisements from two very different magazines selling two very different products, yet all from the same company. While the reader may not be aware of it, each ad differs from one magazine to another. This is due to the typical stereotype of the persons who usually buy a certain product. Am I saying that all people are stereotyped? Yes, of course. If this were not the case, then ads would not be specifically designed to attract each unique group of people and everything would be colorlessly drab. Ads are meant to be directed to a particular prototype of the buyer, economy relies on this constant method to thrive.