The purpose of this report is to provide an understanding for the general public on the matter of how television advertisements are put together and devised, and the techniques and structures that are used to help portray the desired message through form, style, and codes among other things.
The first and possibly most important aspect of advertisements is their form. The form of an advert has to be appropriate to the content; it would be ill-advised for an advertisement that stands as anti-smoking or wishes to promote a cancer charity to be humorous. The form of the advert must match the tone of the content and the message.
For example, Lynx (also known as Axe everywhere but the UK, Ireland and Australia) released an advert ‘Even Angels Will Fall’ [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9hrBiJX2uQ] followed by ‘My Angel Girlfriend’ [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C7-v_R-r94] in 2011. A brand of male grooming products, Lynx’s adverts have long been known for a tongue-in-cheek mood, focusing on the attraction of women to the men who use their products, often going crazy over these men and acting out of character. With the release of ‘Lynx Excite’ they continued the theme (in this vein, Lynx advertisements can effectively be considered a series) of an anti-realist approach - eschewing the realistic results and reactions of women in favour of over-the-top, fantastical reactions instead. It combines elements of animation within, with the women adorned with realistically rendered CGI wings and also halos.
Another example of an anti-realist narrative is the Chevy Silverado ‘2012’ advert [http://youtu.be/XxFYYP8040A], created for the 2012 Superbowl. This is a standalone advert with something of a talking heads element to it - after the establishing shots of the apocalyptic world are done, the characters in the advert talk directly about the protect.
A completely realist advert - based firmly in reality - with also something of a documentary feeling to it is the Justin Bieber endorsed Proactiv advert for a range of skin-clearing, zit prevention products [http://youtu.be/-f-b5K7FOjI]. This is more directly in the talking heads style, with Justin simply discussing the product and why he uses it and why it works for him.
An advertisements style is as integral as the form. The Chevy Silverado advert is humorous and parodic - funny, and also making itself a humorous imitation and reference to other texts and events. The apocalyptic setting shows the car driving past giant robots, crashed alien ships, destroyed cities and landscapes, with burning symbols and an exploded volcano. The entire advert lampoons and parodies the fear and belief that the world will end in 2012, hence the advert title of ‘2012’. It makes light and fun out of the fact that a great deal of people genuinely believe that the world is going to end.
The ‘Even Angels Will Fall’ advert relies on being surreal and dramatic. It takes up a very serious tone, but the placement of angels in modern-day Rome falling for the smell of a body spray is very surreal - it has a completely otherworldly feel. There’s also something of a jarring, surreal element to the way that the authentic sounding choir chimes in with the words ‘oh, sexy boy’ - words typically not sung by a church choir.
Of course, beyond form and style an advert is made up of what is actually in it. ‘Even Angels Will Fall’ would not have the interesting impact it does without its setting - it is set in Rome, with the iconography of the very unique Italian buildings, the appearance of scooters that are known as typically Italian. Rome is the seat of the Pope, the heart of the Catholic church - therefore it holds high significance in an advert where angels quite literally fall to earth. The accompanying music of the choirs again holds connotations of churches and religion.
For that same advert, the lighting is very high key, with a good many framing shots of the angels inside arches and with their wings spreading out in a silhouette. The camera shots are often rather wide or very close; there is no real middle ground. It gives a sense of familiarity with every character in the advert, and helps with heightening the drama.The angels are dressed in tight wrapped dresses - it gives a sense of the basic clothing that could hark back to biblical times, but the dresses are short and tight, sexualising them as well, particularly with all the women having long, tousled ‘bed hair’.
For Justin Bieber’s Proactiv advert, the mise-en-scene is entirely different. The lighting is very high key, but the filming is relaxed, stylised and partially hand held - it comes off much more like a documentary, yet it still has a style about it that is more youthful and attention-grabbing. Justin himself is dressed in very relaxed, normal clothing - it makes him relatable.
Some adverts rely heavily on good graphics and editing. In particular, the Chevy Silverado ‘2012’ advert has a heavy reliance on special effects and graphics - what must be a good deal of green screen and tracking techniques provides the help to create a fully CGI apocalyptic landscape that the Chevy drives through, with a fully rendered giant robot, a crashed UFO and an exploded volcano among just some of the effects included in the video. Other adverts rely less on special effects, such as the Justin Bieber Proactiv advert - there, the focus is more on the editing, which is sharp and interesting and quickly done.
A good deal of adverts have a very specific age demographic. For the Lynx Excite ‘My Angel Girlfriend’ and ‘Even Angels Will Fall’ adverts, the demographic is clearly aimed at young males over the age of 18. The male star of each advert is a reasonably conventionally attractive man under the age of 30 - the adverts want to appeal to men of an age that is typically seen to be much more interested in women than older or younger ages.
The Chevy advert is directed at older, 30+ males - men on the more masculine side who would clearly be in need of a truck in the first place, men who are settled enough in their lives to do something like owning a dog as the protagonist of the advert does. With the Justin Bieber advert, the demographic is teenagers - they want to directly appeal to those the same age as Justin Bieber and encourage them to purchase their skincare range, marketing it at an age group that typically has much more oily skin.
The Proactiv advert possibly employs the most techniques to draw in consumers. It targets their emotional responses - it provides a solution to the problem of zits and oily skin, suggesting their product will give them a confidence and that it is easy to use, which means it won’t take time from their day. It targets the fact that zits tend to be a source of fear, concern and self-esteem issues for many teenagers, and through the celebrity endorsement of Justin Bieber they reach a massive audience of people who follow his music and support him - the majority of whom are the appropriate age demographic the product wishes to reach.
The Lynx adverts very strongly play off their intertextuality. Where ‘Even Angels Will Fall’ is striking and dramatic, ‘My Angel Girlfriend’ is played off as cute and humourous. There’s an intentional jarring difference between the two adverts, one that will draw in interest through drama and one that will make the viewer smile. It’s clearly purposeful - the two adverts are connected intrinsically yet share very little of the same tone. In this day and age of the internet where almost every advert you can think of is available on Youtube, one will provoke interest in the other - and then, interest in the product.
All adverts in the UK are regulated by the ASA - the Advertising Standards Authority. They work to ensure that all adverts are legal and decent, and adhering to the BCAP code, which stands for the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice. These codes and authorities are in place to help make sure that every advert is appropriate, that none are offensive or breach the boundaries of taste, or, for example, are inappropriately being shown before the watershed. Along with them is Ofcom, which is more or less the media watchdog - the government approved regulatory body that keeps an eye over almost every form of communication that there is, similarly making sure that things adhere to strict codes of conduct.
In this very modern age where mobiles and the internet play a much larger role in our day-to-day lives than they once did, advertisements are changing and shifting with them. Gone are simple adverts that present a product and say you should buy it; they use a great many methods to provoke and persuade their consumer into remembering their product and going on to buy it. Every advert must go viral, every advert must be the most memorable - as a result, adverts of 2012 and beyond are more cinematic, exciting and further-reaching than they ever have been before.