Textual Analysis

Select/find an Australian television program, magazine, advertisement, film, music or radio program from the 1950s or 1960s. What does it look like, and/or sound like? Investigate the government, industry and other social factors that influenced its content and reception.

In this modern world, it is evident that advertisements have gained much more attention in media production. The development of television has lead to the growth of advertising industries, as well as commercial media production. In Australia for example, the introduction and significant development of television in the 1950s and 1960s has brought a new shape and new form in regards to how advertising industries utilise modern media technology. An advertisement that once ever existed in the Australian television in the 1950s until 1960s was coca cola.

It is the contention of this essay to discuss this coca cola advertisement. Firstly, this essay will discuss the notion of paradigm and syntagm in relation to how the message of the advertisement is built upon. Secondly, this essay will demonstrate a textual analysis based on the coca cola advertisement that has been selected. This essay will further discuss how significant elements such as social values, government, and ideology affect the production of media texts and images. The arguments of this essay are constructed upon the key theoretical background of textual analysis.

In the first place, the notion of paradigm and syntagm are two very important aspects that an advertising industry needs to consider in order for it to succeed. According to Watson (2008, p. 54), paradigm refers to “sets of possibilities from which choices are made”.  Therefore, coca cola has chosen words and images that both represent common sense and meaning (Rayner, Walt and Kruger, 2001, p. 30). This is demonstrated through the use of words “refresh yourself, enjoy yourself, be really refresh with coke”. This phrase associates with a meaning that when people buy coca cola, they will enjoy themselves and feel fresh. Another important choice of language is “you will work and play at your sparkling best”. This carries a meaning that by drinking coca cola, people will have more energy and higher performance edge on their daily basis activities, as well as the idea that the only thing people can do to perform at their best is to drink coca cola. Syntagm also contributes to the interpretation of meaning, by which those selections of words are put together in an understandable manner or narrative (Watson, 2008, p. 54).

This advertisement is constructed upon iconic and symbolic figures. The figures on this advertisement are the three young and beautiful girls who are singing and dancing in a room, with a box full of cold coca cola (figure 1). This encourages audiences to interpret that drinking coca cola will give them a sense of relaxation and happiness. This also represents the Australian culture, in regards to how Australians love beaches. The target market of this advertisement is young Australians who enjoy beaches. This can be shown through figure 2, where it shows some young Australians who are having some fun at the beach. Beach represents relaxation and enjoyment as well as emphasising a place that people should go to refresh themselves from stress and boredom.

In terms of its relevance with social significance and values, coca cola represents the idea of creating a stronger tie and develop better relationships amongst family members. Figure 3 represents this notion in regards to a situation where people are having special occasion or family reunion in a form of barbeque party. In this particular family occasion, coca cola would be their favourite drinks. The same situation goes to figure 4, where if someone is having friends coming over for a visit, the drinks that he or she would serve was going to be coca cola.

In addition to this, government also contributes to the production and deliverance of advertisement in this particular period of time. The establishment of the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) in 1928 has brought a new shape of how the advertisement industry in Australia is regulated. According to Crawford (2008, p. 127), AANA “appeared the least bothered by government intervention”. This means that the government does not necessarily have the legitimate power to control over the production of advertisement within the industry. This is because AANA insists that insignificance controls by government on advertising would tend to damage the quality of commercial advertisement (Crawford, 2008, p. 128). This relies entirely on the knowledge and experience of ANNA on control over the information flow.

Advertisement is a very powerful tool that media producers use to teach some kind of ideology. In this case, media audiences are compelled to believe this idea by consuming the products that are being shown on broadcast media, in this case television. Television is said to have more power in influencing their audience thorough images and sound (Cunningham, 2010, p. 36). Advertisers will use certain types of strategy to encourage audiences to fell that they are actually in the image itself. This refers to what Watson (2008, p. 22) believed as “hegemony”, where people are in a sense controlled by media elites through advertisement. The ruling class will use their power and authority mainly for economic and personal interests. From here, it can be concluded that the main aim of advertising industries is to seek personal or group benefits.

Another important point is that coca cola is a branded item, which most of people would certainly recognise as “a sweet fizzy drink” (Miller, 1998, p. 8). Some authors have proposed that brands serve some particular advantages to the consumers ‘in terms of product quality’. Buyers may end up believing that advertised brands have better quality than brands that do not get advertised (Mehta, 2000, cited in Sheehan, 2005 p. 23). Furthermore, Shavitt and Lowrey (1998, cited in Sheehan, 2005 p. 23) argue that branded goods are much more valuable that items that are not, because certain people, when buying, need to consider the value, quality, and ‘long time customer service’, which leads to the process of ‘decision making’.

In conclusion, this essay has intended to examine the production of coca cola advertisement in Australia in 1950s to 1960s along with the basic textual analysis of this particular advertisement. It is found that government seemed to have less interference on the production of advertisement due to the existence of individual and organisational power. Social and cultural aspects also contribute in the production, in terms of how people perceive the message and ideology behind the advertisement. Even though advertisement emphasises conservative point of view by minority group, people are free to make their own decision and not to be propagandised.

Reference List

Crawford, R. (2008). The lucky industry? The advertising industry from 1956 to 1970, in But wait, there’s more: A history of Australian advertising, 1900-2000, Carlton: Melbourne University Press, pp. 125-149

Cunningham, S. (2010). Policy, in S. Cunningham and G. Turner (eds.). The media and communication in Australia, Sydney: Allen and Unwind, pp. 31-48.

http://www.aana.com.au/pages/our-story.html, accessed Thursday, 22 March 2012.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuBtfdROWug, accessed Monday, 19 March 2012.

Miller, D. (1998). Why some things matter? In Daniel Miller (ed.). (1998). Material cultures, London: University College London Press, pp. 3-21.

Rayner, P., Walt, P and  Kruger, S. (2001). Image analysis (codes etc.),  in Media studies: The essential introduction, London: Routledge, pp. 29-43

Sheehan, K. (2005) Are goods bad? Living in consumer culture, in Controversies in contemporary culture, New Delhi: Sage, pp.17-33.

Watson, J. (2008). Hegemony an overview and Signs, codes, texts, in Media communications: An introduction to theory and process, New York: Palgrave, pp.22-28 and pp. 49-59.

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