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From Naturalisation to Sacralisation: Changing Paradigms for Analysing Visual Advertising
Unformatted Document Text:  1 1 From Naturalisation to Sacralisation: Abstarct Advertsing has been understood in the structuralist tradition of cultural studies as naturalising social relations by making brands appear natural. This raticle traces a series of approaches to the analysis of advertising that have developed in Britain and the US within the context of media studies over the last 30 years.. It questions how this model has developed from a particularly English understanding of French structuralism which has become a type of orthodoxy in Britain Other theoretical analyses of advertising from of linguistics from pragmatics and speech act theory are considered.. Overall the article argues that the structuralist position that advertising naturalises products is no longer relevant but rather that we should consider how advertising sacralises brands, giving them a supernatural quality by allowing them to cross the border of the media world to the ordinary world Part: One. In the beginnning there was Envy Perhaps the most influential book on advertising analysis in the English speaking world was not originally a book about advertising at all. John Berger, the English art historian and novelist prepared a BBC documentary series entitled Ways of Seeing in 1967 which included one chapter on advertising. It was later published as a book and became one of the most important statements about advertising and a standard text for undergraduate students. Berger’s fundamental thesis was that advertising provoked desire for the product by encouraging the reader to see himself as inadequate in the present and imagining himself in a future enviable state. He defined this future enviable state with the word “glamour”. Through the envy of others, the future consumer believed he would become glamorous. This was the essence of advertising’s appeal. Berger proposed a series of simple postulates about advertising that would be developed further by others after him. Advertising changed the reader’s notion of self and projected him into a state of constantly desiring to be himself as another, a paradoxical desire to be someone else while remaining himself: “ Publicity is always about the future buyer. It offers him an image of himself made glamorous by the product or opportunity it is trying to sell. The image then makes himself envious of himself as he might be. Yet what makes this self which might be enviable? The envy of others.”(Berger 1967:132) In this theoretical framework, the text of an advertisement places the reader in a situation of imagining himself in the future. Berger explained advertising was never about the present or about a realistic representation of a possible future but rather it was about a fantasy of how the future could be. One could imagine oneself becoming enviable by others if one had the product even if one did not believe this to be realisable. The important thing was to desire it. Hence Berger broke with the prevalent orthodoxies at the time that advertising’s principal function was to give information about products. David Ogilivy (1963) who had become the advertising guru during the 1960’s had promoted this idea that ads should always emphasise the product above all things. Critiques of advertising at that time also concerned a conception of advertising as information. Those who thought advertising was good conceived

Authors: Doyle, Waddick.
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From Naturalisation to Sacralisation:
Abstarct
Advertsing has been understood in the structuralist tradition of cultural studies as
naturalising social relations by making brands appear natural. This raticle traces a series of
approaches to the analysis of advertising that have developed in Britain and the US within the
context of media studies over the last 30 years.. It questions how this model has developed
from a particularly English understanding of French structuralism which has become a type
of orthodoxy in Britain Other theoretical analyses of advertising from of linguistics from
pragmatics and speech act theory are considered.. Overall the article argues that the
structuralist position that advertising naturalises products is no longer relevant but rather that
we should consider how advertising sacralises brands, giving them a supernatural quality by
allowing them to cross the border of the media world to the ordinary world
Part: One. In the beginnning there was Envy
Perhaps the most influential book on advertising analysis in the English speaking world was
not originally a book about advertising at all. John Berger, the English art historian and
novelist prepared a BBC documentary series entitled Ways of Seeing in 1967 which included
one chapter on advertising. It was later published as a book and became one of the most
important statements about advertising and a standard text for undergraduate students.

Berger’s fundamental thesis was that advertising provoked desire for the product by
encouraging the reader to see himself as inadequate in the present and imagining himself in a
future enviable state. He defined this future enviable state with the word “glamour”.
Through the envy of others, the future consumer believed he would become glamorous. This
was the essence of advertising’s appeal. Berger proposed a series of simple postulates about
advertising that would be developed further by others after him. Advertising changed the
reader’s notion of self and projected him into a state of constantly desiring to be himself as
another, a paradoxical desire to be someone else while remaining himself:

Publicity is always about the future buyer. It offers him an image of himself made
glamorous by the product or opportunity it is trying to sell. The image then makes himself
envious of himself as he might be. Yet what makes this self which might be enviable? The
envy of others.”(
Berger 1967:132)
In this theoretical framework, the text of an advertisement places the reader in a situation of
imagining himself in the future. Berger explained advertising was never about the present or
about a realistic representation of a possible future but rather it was about a fantasy of how the
future could be. One could imagine oneself becoming enviable by others if one had the
product even if one did not believe this to be realisable. The important thing was to desire it.

Hence Berger broke with the prevalent orthodoxies at the time that advertising’s principal
function was to give information about products. David Ogilivy (1963) who had become the
advertising guru during the 1960’s had promoted this idea that ads should always emphasise
the product above all things. Critiques of advertising at that time also concerned a
conception of advertising as information. Those who thought advertising was good conceived


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