Workshop Three

Today’s commercials were just as interesting as the ones in the previous workshops.  You commented on three commercials which present elements of intertexuality. 
The "Mini Vikings Ad" (Stefania) also presents the subversion of expected (and most often accepted) codes of beauty.  It sets a new code for being "cool" and it addresses a larger audience of potential customers. 
The "1984 Apple’s Macintosh Ad" (Nazzarena) strikingly echoes Orwell’s masterpiece, whose Big Brother certainly stands for Microsoft.  The dazzled and speechless viewers are the ones who are so blinded by Microsoft that they do not even contemplate the idea of a fit athlete (Macintosh) who has come to free them (the symbol of the hammer) from the dictatorship of Big Brother! 
The "Diet Coke Casablanca Ad" (Tiziana) is strongly hooked to the past.  Here Coca-cola is not selling their drink, they are selling an image of themselves, a lifestyle, a frame of mind! 
Finally, the social ad "WNF Laat de Amazone leven" (Erica) raises the viewers’ consciousness as to the respect of the environment.  Nature is in harmony, its creature serve one another, what about us human beings?

Before you watch the commercials by Stefania, Nazzarena, Tiziana and Erica respectively, I would love you to read the following.  It may help you focus a bit better on the concept of "intertextuality".

intertextualityThe concept of intertextuality reminds us that each text exists in relation to others. Texts are framed by others in many ways. Most obvious are formal frames: a television programme, for instance, may be part of a series and part of a genre (such as soap or sitcom). Our understanding of any individual text relates to such framings. Texts provide contexts within which other texts may be created and interpreted.

In order to make sense of the Absolut vodka advertisement shown here you need to know what to look for. Such expectations are established by reference to one’s previous experience in looking at related advertisements in an extended series. Once we know that we are looking for the shape of the bottle, it is easier to perceive it here. Modern visual advertisements make extensive use of intertextuality in this way. Sometimes there is no direct reference to the product at all. Instant identification of the appropriate interpretative code serves to identify the interpreter of the advertisement as a member of an exclusive club, with each act of interpretation serving to renew one’s membership.

Links also cross the boundaries of formal frames, for instance, in sharing topics with treatments within other genres (the theme of war is found in a range of genres such action-adventure film, documentary, news, current affairs). Some genres are shared by several media: the genres of soap, game show and phone-in are found on both television and radio; the genre of the news report is found on TV, radio and in newspapers; the advertisement appears in all mass media forms.


In 1968 Barthes announced ‘the death of the author’ and ‘the birth of the reader’, declaring that ‘a text’s unity lies not in its origin but in its destination’. The framing of texts by other texts has implications not only for their writers but also for their readers. Fredric Jameson argued that ‘texts come before us as the always-already-read; we apprehend them through the sedimented layers of previous interpretations, or – if the text is brand-new – through the sedimented reading habits and categories developed by those inherited interpretive traditions’, where it was, with delicious irony in this context, cited from Tony Bennett). A famous text has a history of readings. ‘All literary works… are "rewritten", if only unconsciously, by the societies which read them’. No-one today – even for the first time – can read a famous novel or poem, look at a famous painting, drawing or sculpture, listen to a famous piece of music or watch a famous play or film without being conscious of the contexts in which the text had been reproduced, drawn upon, alluded to, parodied and so on. Such contexts constitute a primary frame which the reader cannot avoid drawing upon in interpreting the text.

Roland Barthes introduced the concept of anchorage. Linguistic elements can serve to ‘anchor’ (or constrain) the preferred readings of an image: ‘to fix the floating chain of signifieds’. Barthes introduced this concept of textual anchorage primarily in relation to advertisements. Barthes argued that the principal function of anchorage was ideological. This is perhaps most obvious when photographs are used in contexts such as newspapers. Photograph captions typically present themselves as neutral labels for what self-evidently exists in the depicted world whilst actually serving to define the terms of reference and point-of-view from which it is to be seen. For instance, ‘It is a very common practice for the captions to news photographs to tell us, in words, exactly how the subject’s expression ought to be read‘. (adapted from “Semiotics for Beginners” by Daniel Chandler)

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4 Responses to Workshop Three

  1. anonimo says:

    This is a campaign broadcast by MINI in England.
    We can divide the ad in two sequences: the first one is characterised by people playing beach volley or sunbathing. It is a sort of idyllic place where men have provocative attitudes and women assume film star poses. These attitudes are stressed by the music that is calm and refers to a relaxed but provocative situation.
    Suddenly this atmosphere is interrupted by the sound of the Vikings’ horn and the warriors appear at the centre of the shot.
    Here starts the second sequence: a horde of marauding Vikings invade the crowded beach with three MINIs. We can notice that the colours of the cars are linked to the setting: in fact blue, red and yellow are recurring colours.
    For example: the ball has the same colours of the cars, the beach umbrellas and all the setting are yellow; the blue flag reminds us the blue car, and the red one is linked to the glittering bathing trunks of the man of the man that we saw at the very beginning of the commercial. It is funny to see those trunks worn by the Viking that is dancing around the bonfire.
    While the Vikings enjoy themselves, we can hear the words of “Volcano” (a song of a metal group “Baby Woodrose”) that repeat “We are Vikings”
    These are the only words that we can listen to in the commercial, in fact there are no other words but the growl and the laughs of the Vikings.
    The use of the horde of Vikings pulls down the stereotype that links MINI to rich and posh people: fat Vikings are opposed to slim and handsome boys in order to convey this new image of the car.
    This violent and dangerous population is used also because the company needed to convince more and more consumers to buy its products and used this commercial to reach their aim: with those rude Vikings that are opposed to young men that build sand castles on the beach, in fact, it is conveyed the idea of a powerful and strong car.
    There are also links to submission: the Vikings, well known as a conquering population, that want to subject the posh guys on the beach, men that want to subdue women and women that are subjected to men only in order to show up and to be noticed by them.
    Finally, to me, the company wants to ban boredom from the international ads scene.
    I chose this ad because I thought it could offer lots of ideas for its interpretation: we can analyse it superficially, dealing for example with colours, or we can go deeper and find out all those messages that try indirectly to convince us.

  2. anonimo says:

    Diet Coke – Casablanca (2003)

    It features two strangers, a man and a woman, watching Casablanca in a movie theater. The woman begins to mouth the lines of the movie, and the man moves closer and begins to do the same thing. Then they get up and dance, mirroring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman on screen. They find romance while lip-syncing to Casablanca.

    First of all, we notice the cinema is half empty; the film is quite old and new generations are not interested in watching it. In fact, our attention is caught by two young people, seated in separate parts of the theater. They both are drinking Diet Coke and we discover they know by heart the lines of the film. They are in harmony with each other and it is an harmony we find through the full ad till the end when they are finally together, probably forever. Coca-Cola hopes it is the beginning of a beautiful friendship, as the last line of the film says, and the couple will look back one day and proclaim, ”We’ll always have Diet Coke.”, instead of the official line "We’ll always have Paris".

    This ad influences a large part and different kind of spectators: of course, Coca Cola drinkers, but also fans of the two testimonials, Felicia Day and Reid Scott, American celebrities and fans of classic cinema, especially of Casablanca.

    From the beginning, we see immediately the product Diet Coke and it is fundamental the connection between movie theater and Coke, nowadays. Not many people start to watch a film empty handed. They are saying us we need to buy Diet Coke in order to get into a movie theater and have good surprises. The message at the end is "Do what feels good".

    Analysing colours, the prevalence of red is clearly visible: cinema chairs, the dress of the girl, Coca Cola logo are all red. But we are talking about Diet Coke, which is connoted by grey and we see this colour on the cups in harmony with the black and white film on the screen. The last frame is built on these colours and the dancing couple seems to cross-refer to the Coke bottle figure. Colours are mixed and it means that ingredients are perfectly put together.

    The soundtrack is characterized by film’s dialogues recited also by the two spectators. The two stories are interrelated; for example, when Bogart says "Well, I was wondering…Why I’m so lucky. Why I should find you waiting for me to come along.", the two people recognise themselves like in a mirror. Background we can listen to the theme song of the film "As Time Goes By".

    This ad was created in 2003, exactly 60 years after the film. I think they chose this film particularly because it is a typical Usa production, as Coca Cola is, but also because it is a film which speaks about Europe and the world; in fact, it is set during the Second World War. They are trying to convince us that Coca Cola is timeless as Casablanca is and, at the same time, they are advertising two totally different things interrelating them, even if they are not comparable.

    Personally, I decided to analyse this ad, because it celebrates the anniversary of one of my favourite films, but also because the idea of drawing up two totally different things with elegance and style is excellent. The choice of using a cinema masterpiece into an ad is always a risk; but they don’t make a parody of the film; they pay a great tribute to it and invite new Coca Cola generations to appreciate something old, but good.


  3. anonimo says:

    This commercial is linked to the George Orwell’s novel 1984.There are lots of elements that we can notice the first one is the set,an imaginery dystopian society ruled by the famous “Big Brother”.The main character is a woman,an heroin of the future that looks more like an athlete than a soldier.She is carrying a large brass (ottone)hammer,that we can interpretate as symbol of rebellion and freedom.She escapes from the police (in this case the “Thought Police”) to hurl the hammer at B.B. right at the moment he says “we shall prevail(prevalere)”. The other element that we can notice is the crowd, characterised by the uniformity and submission to the Big Brother ( one of the most significant effects is the march ,and we can see the difference between crowd and woman through colours:grey and black for the crowd and white and orange for the lady.In my opinion the contrapposition between black and white-orange is a metaphor for the struggle between good and evil.
    The soundtrack is composed by the sounds of lady’s steps, the crowd‘s march and the voice of the big brother that says “Today we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the information purification directives…(….)our unification of thoughts is more powerful a weapon(arma) than any fleet(flotta) or army on earth.WE ARE ONE PEOPLE,with one will,one resolve,one cause.Our enemies shall talk themselves to death and will bury them with their own confusion.We shall prevail!!”.
    The words “we are one people“ are meaningful because underline the negative effects of a dystopian society,where the individualism becomes a taboo. 
    Only few people knows that Ridley Scott was the director of this commercial,at the time he has just finished “Blade Runner “ and there is a big influence of cinema in this ad, above all for the frame:
    °campo totale – long shot to focus on the lady
    °primissimo piano -foreground to focus on B.B.
    And  the end  there is a text and the logo.“On January 24th Apple Computer will introduce Machintosh.And you will see why 1984 won’t be like “1984”. It is a provocation ,in fact this commercial was broadcast only on 24 January 1984 during the Super Bowl in America and it had a very important impact on the sale of Macintosh.    

  4. anonimo says:

     This is a social ad that regards environment. We see many animals of the Amazon Rainforest dancing together and almost singing. Plants and flowers are the background of this funny commercial.

    From the beginning the music has a strong impact to the viewers: it is involving, fast, funny and with a nice rhythm. You feel like dancing! The song says mainly “ Follow the leader, follow me, come on everybody! ” : it catches the attention and invites the viewers to sing and dance with the animals. Together with the fact that the animals are in groups or flocks, the message conveyed is that of union, cooperation, collaboration in order to get to the aim. The goal is to stop killing the Amazon forest and its wonderful creatures. Nature is life and plants and animals are its expression. The little ant carrying the letter ‘A’ on its shoulders (it appears five times) is extremely symbolic: ants are maybe the littlest creatures of the forest, but they are fundamental as well for the ecosystem; so every form of life, from the smallest to the biggest, is unique and indispensable, and we must leave the Amazon forest living. Another important element is the green colour: it makes immediately think of the plant kingdom and of sane trees,plants and flowers. Flowers that blossom together with music and look like the instruments that animals like birds and monkeys or insects play. The forest has countless colours, vivid, pure and awesome, but the predominants are yellow, red, blue and brown and, as I said before, green. In this ad there are many kinds of birds, like parrots and humming-bird, fishes, frogs, insects, an anteater, mammals and chicks. They all live in harmony in that perfect world, that mankind is destroying and polluting. Lastly we can say that this ad is a manifesto of the beauty of nature and a funny way to make the viewers reflect upon mankind’s responsibility for its actions.


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