Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bethany Davey
TA: Kate Brandt

The ad I chose to use for my example is from Custom Home magazine. It’s an ad for a window-making company (Weather Shield), not something more mainstream and popular, but I thought it represented an advertising trend very well. It is a two-page advertisement. The first page shows a blank, interior wall intersected by rectangles of light that we assume come from a facing window. The main script hovering left of center says “Be original. Over and over.” At the bottom of the page, we see the basic shapes of two different kinds of windows – one an embellished rectangle, the other an elaborate half-circle. The small print below those reads “It takes options to impress discriminating minds. And craftsmanship to insure they stay impressed.” It then gives the phone number and website to find a dealer close to you, and finishes with the statement “See the light.” The second page continues the wall-and-window-light image from the first page, and includes a smaller rectangular picture of the outside of a house. We assume that this very large, gorgeous, expensive-looking house represents the exterior of the interior image on the previous page. The company’s name and logo fit into the bottom right-hand corner.

This ad demonstrates two trends that I’ve seen in advertising over the last several years. The first is the trend of offering the public options. The second is the trend of seeming to offer the public individuality and a chance to control their lives. The first is a verifiable, concrete thing. A company makes so many variations on a product, offering them at different prices, in different packaging. We can see this, touch it, and know that it’s real. We can see these products lined up on store shelves and read the prices on their tags. The second trend is more insubstantial. There is no way to measure if the company’s products actually make us individuals and add to the value of our lives.

The first trend, that of offering options in ads, has been around for much longer that the twenty-first century. However, I think it has become much more prevalent through the last few decades, supported by our consumer, material-driven society. The people of today don’t like being told what to do. They don’t like to hear that a company offers only one variation of a product. Where is the choice, the personal power in that? People today want to hear that a company offers many variations on a product that they can pick and choose from at their desire, be it windows, clothing, cars, toiletries….the list can go on and on. This ad gives the impression that this company is the best not only because of its superior quality, but because it offers so many variations on that quality.

My secondary example comes from an ad in InStyle magazine. It’s for a watch created by Armani. The ad is divided up into four equal sections, showcasing the same watch in each square, but in different colors. This ad, while from a different world than the first (windows usually sell to a different crowd that Armani), shows the trend of options perfectly. In all four squares, the watch is exactly the same, except for the color. Armani wants to give you the option of which color you want your watch to be, or maybe even let you buy them all and match them to your wardrobe. They are giving you power, which is a much-desired thing in our society. It may only be the power to choose a watch, but it is still power, and that is attractive to many people.

The second trend the window ad showcases is that of offering the public the individuality they crave. No one wants to be just one of the crowd, a faceless number, to go unnoticed. This ad seemingly offers that recognition of individuality through the statement “Be original. Over and over.” Also, simply by offering you options, they are offering you individuality. If you don’t like one style of window, there are dozens more that could fit you and your personality better. You could turn something as mundane as a window into an expression of who you are, and show the world that you truly are an individual.

The second ad shows this trend, as well. The different-colored watches could be a way to express yourself. If you see yourself as a pretty, feminine, girly-girl (and want the world to see that, too), you can buy the pink watch. On the other hand, if you see yourself as an adventurous, outgoing, strong kind of person, you can buy the orange watch. It’s all up to you and how you want to express your individuality.
As I said, the trend of offering options in advertising has been around for a very long time. The trend of offering individuality, however, is a more modern phenomenon. The two are very closely entwined. By offering options, you automatically appeal to a person’s sense of individuality. By offering individuality, you automatically offer options. I don’t believe you can have one without the other.

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