I analyse ads

“Advertisements are selling us something else besides consumer goods: in providing us with a structure in which we, and those goods, are interchangeable, they are selling us ourselves.”
Judith Williamson, Decoding Advertisements; Ideology and Meaning in Advertising

When I say I read a magazine, I don’t usually read any text apart from the headlines and captions. I’m actually more interested in the pictures and ads, hence I present two of my favourite advertisements and what they mean to me:

IKEA DOES VINTAGE. And gives the object (the clothes) a human character (hiding). The theme of this ad campaign is HAPPY INSIDE. This could mean that the clothes are happy inside the wardrobe, again giving it a human emotion. It could also mean that anyone who buys the PAX ÅNSTAD wardrobe combination is happy inside because the tagline says: ‘One of more than 2500 ways to make you happy.’

The ad appeal
This ad appeals to me because the girl is beautiful, her room is big, she has many clothes (therefore, she may be rich) and she is stylish. The ad exudes a dreamy European effect, looks like it is modelled after a French boudoir and the style is vintage, evident from the chandelier, ornate walls, drapery and furnishings.

What I know vs. what I feel
What I know vs. what I feel are the two main tensions when I view an ad like this. It is the tension of real world vs. ad world, knowledge vs. feelings, science vs. ideology. What I know is that I cannot afford to buy the PAX ÅNSTAD wardrobe combination, which costs £719. I do not live in a room this big and do not have many beautiful frilly clothes. Also, I am not a skinny white girl.

What I feel is that I absolute love and want this dreamy lifestyle in the sunshine, where everything and everyone is beautiful. I’m putting on my heels and I will choose from the many accessories before heading out to have a great time with my friends.

JOHN LEWIS INSPIRES EVERY HOME. This is my second favourite ad. The days are getting shorter so obviously lighting is become ever more important in homes. The theme of this ad campaign is John Lewis’s usual NEVER KNOWINGLY UNDERSOLD. The feel of the ad is almost painting-like. The colours and lines are not sharp, the edges blurry and smudgy. The look is classic (French windows, chandelier), modern (black and silver), and very sophisticated.

The ad appeal
This ad made me melt as soon as I saw it because of the warm colours. The yellow and grey exude a warm contrast. The ad is lovable also because the house resembles a doll’s house.

What I know vs. what I feel
What I know is that I once bought a Japanese-paper lamp from John Lewis for £20 and thought it was really cheap, until I went to Argos and realise lamps don’t cost that much in this country. (Back in the day, I was unaware of how small the currency is in the UK). I would not shop in John Lewis now because it is way above my budget.

But what I feel when I see this ad is how much I want to be rich and posh. It makes me feel that the day I have my own house and fill it with ambient mood lighting is the day I have made it in life! And with that sort of money, I’d possibly have a miniature doll house, too…

“[It is the] battle between the desire for magazine glamour and the knowledge that I will never achieve it, that it is a myth. So what made me want it? A real need – but falsely fulfilled: in fact, sustained by its perpetual unfulfilment.” – Williamson, Decoding Advertisements


  1. Elle Zhang says:

    What I know… is that we can create the same mood for very little. Warm wicker fairy lights from thailand, tealights and linen scented bedrooms courtesy of primark and the body shop sales. Free jazz piano courtesy of legal youtube playlists. Beauty and price are not always directly proportional.

    What we need… the wisdom of God as expressed in the Proverbs 31 woman. May be never be unwise!

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