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Practice Advertisement Analysis


This activity is designed to give you more practice in critically reading and analyzing a text not generally considered worthy of analysis.  Just as people often consider TV shows “just entertainment,” they may also consider ads as “just trying to sell us a product.”  But we’re trying to get at what these ads “sell” besides products.  For this assignment, then, you’ll want to go beyond “The Marlboro ad shows that ‘it’s cool to smoke’ to consider how the ad represents ‘cool’.  For instance, why does a cowboy represent “cool” (and not a librarian or an accountant, or anyone else)?  As we’ve been practicing in class, you should be looking for the more complex ways the ad you choose may work in reproducing and challenging a particular cultural belief.


Type responses to the following:


Part 1:  Identifying the “rhetorical situation” for your ad

·        What is the cultural context for this ad that you want to isolate for your analysis?  That is, what particular shared cultural belief do you see it addressing?

·        Who is the audience for this ad, based on the ad itself and perhaps other clues such the publication in which it appeared?


Part 2:  Practice analysis

Write a 1-page analysis of your ad incorporating what you came up with in Part 1 and anything we’ve come up with in class discussions.  Your audience is the whole class, so not everyone will automatically know the ad you’re referring to; you’ll need to vividly describe it and explain your responses to the following questions. How does the ad reinforce and challenge this particular cultural belief you identified in Part 1?  Also, what specific cultural message (or related messages) does it suggest in regard to that belief?  Point to specific images and words, etc. to help illustrate your analysis.  Remember to use enough detail because someone will have to respond to your analysis.