In reply to my first blog post a reader suggested I delve into why certain banner ads entice you to notice them while others you as the audience just ignore. In researching banner ads online I came across a pretty neat banner ad for Pringles. It was launched a few years back but after clicking on it once you can quickly see why it is so “clickable.” I challenge you to click the above ad just once. . .see what I mean? It’s addictive!
This week my Visual Rhetoric class was assigned reading in This Means This This Means That A User’s Guide to Semiotics by Sean Hall. When looking into the semiotics behind this banner ad we can begin to see how the signs used, the meanings portrayed, the visual structures and the textual structures all work to produce a successful ad campaign- one so successful it won the Cannes Cyber Gold Lion award.
The first question when looking into the signs of the advertisement, is one of message. What is the message behind the ad and what is it really saying. The first blurb on the ad is “Love can be complicated.” The message is the joke that she has a Pringle can on her hand where a ring would go. The advertisers wanted to be sure the message got across and once you click the Pringles icon it says “Get it? She has a Pringles can on her hand.”Sean Hall in his book talks about just this concept-that text alone will relay one message while pictures alone relay another but sometimes these can be put together to enhance the message. Another message from the ad is not so clear cut. The ad does not come right out in saying that once you have one Pringle you can’t get enough. Instead that message is coded in the multiple clicks of the user. I think this is a very clever way of transmitting the message.
Sean Hall talks about the ways that messages are transmitted through different media. There are presentational, representational and mechanical modes of transmitting signs. This ad invokes both representational (photograph) and mechanical (internet) to transmit information. It is truly a multimodal form of communication.
Looking at the visual structure of this advertisement there is one concept mentioned by Hall that is prevalent in this ad- the ideal versus the real. There are many ways to divide a picture. Hall says, “One way to divide them is to place the idealized elements at the top of the picture and the realistic elements at the bottom.” In this advertisement the Pringles can is not out in front or down below, but rather at the top of the image, a place normally reserved for the ideal. The people are below it, normally reserved for the realistic. Another visual structure concept is that of foreground and background. In this ad the background is very simple, just plain yellow, while the colors in of the blurbs in the upper left are red and stand out against the background. The words also overlap the image of the two people, putting them in the background as well so that we focus on the words only.
In This Means That Sean Hall talks about the different forms that speech and writing can take. There is formal writing like in academic essays, informal writing like in personal emails, formal speech like academic lectures and informal speech as in casual conversations. The form of communication used in this advertisement is very informal. As Hall explains this type of advertising can create a sense of intimacy between the advertiser and the person reading it. I think this is key to making this ad work. The ad could have spout out a number of statistics about Pringles, or could have shown two people having a conversation about Pringles, but instead it invites the reader to be a part of the conversation and entices them to keep clicking. In short, the banner ad is fun!