IAP 4 exercise 4.2 image and text

Coronavirus social isolation is now the order of the day, but I decided to go for a walk into town to find some images, keeping a safe distance from others who were also out and about. I hadn’t consciously noticed before that there are actually no billboards at all through the whole of Kemptown all the way into the central shopping area of Brighton. There are, however, plenty of smaller ads on bus stops and on small street display stands, so I took some photos of those. I don’t buy magazines or newspapers as I get all my news online, so decided to concentrate on the ad images for this exercise.

Image 1: Pepsi Max Cherry

This ad for Pepsi Max Cherry is basically an image of a can, which wouldn’t give anyone much idea of why it might be desirable without the graphics and the text. There are 12 words in total in the image, seven on the can and five around it. The word maximum (or its abbreviation max) appears three times within this total, no sugar and cherry each appear twice, while recycle, Pepsi and taste occur once. These words close down the potential range of meanings the viewer might infer from the image and direct them towards interpreting it as representing a tasty cherry-flavoured drink that they can consume without fear of putting on weight or destroying the planet. The fact that it is in fact a chemical concoction of carbonated water, colour (caramel E150d), sweeteners (aspartame, acesulfame K), flavourings (including caffeine), acids (phosphoric acid, citric acid) and preservative (potassium sorbate) is concealed. The inclusion of the word cherry (twice), the extensive cherry colouring and at least five graphic cherries suggests that its ingredients also include cherries, but this is not in fact the case. Meanwhile the fact that the drink contains more caffeine than standard Pepsi is not explicitly mentioned, but the repetition of max/maximum leads us to infer that the drink is in some way more than standard Pepsi, and the strong, all-caps, slightly italicised fonts suggest a powerful forward motion and channel us towards the idea of an energy drink.

Image 2: Greggs bacon roll

The words in this ad again aim to close down the meaning of the image, directing the viewer’s interpretation towards an idea of nostalgic homeliness to be associated with the pictured bacon roll. The term “oven-baked” is a strong signifier for the idea of something that was made at home rather than in a factory, despite the fact that in this case the product is mass-produced on an industrial scale. Meanwhile the phrase “the nation’s favourite” adds to this a nostalgic idea of community and even the suggestion that a vote may have taken place, neither of which would be conveyed to the same extent by, for example, the superficially similar phrase “the country’s favourite”. Together the terms “oven-baked” and “nation’s favourite” evoke all the cosiness and bonhomie of The Great British Bake-Off. This is emphasised by the softly rounded font used for “It’s the nation’s favourite”, which (like GBBO) has an overall homely and cheerful demeanour with a small dose of cheekiness supplied by the elephant’s trunk-like uplift in the letter R. The disclaimers at the bottom of the image are not intended to be read as part of the ad and are there to ward off any potential claims of inaccuracy:
The “Nation’s Favourite” claim is based in part on data reported by Mealtrak TM for the volume of sales in the hot sandwich category containing bacon for the 52-week period ending on 21 June 2019 for the UK (excludes NI) Food on the Go Market (copyright 2019 Mealtrak). Subject to availability. Serving suggestion.

Image 3: Barbour

Once again (and as is generally, if not always, the case in adverts) the text closes the image down, channelling the meaning of a rugged rural landscape with countless possible associations into the idea of a clothing brand. The brand name Barbour is emblazoned across the sky like a title, while the only other word included in the advert, #BarbourWayofLife, signifies two apparently contradictory ideas: one, that the clothing brand and the raw, undeveloped landscape are one and the same, and the other that the brand is modern and hi-tech. The contradiction is resolved when we realise that the target audience for this advert is not in fact those who inhabit the rural landscape pictured, but an urban client base for whom the countryside amounts to a part-time pursuit or merely an aspiration.