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DISTOPIAN SIGNS Global advertising and its discontents. Massimo Leone – University of Turin Sozopol, EFSS 2008 massimo.leone@unito.it. DISTOPIAN SIGNS – Global advertisement and its discontents . These are the main objectives of the seminar :

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slide1

DISTOPIAN SIGNS

Global advertising and its discontents

Massimo Leone – University of Turin

Sozopol, EFSS 2008

massimo.leone@unito.it

slide2

DISTOPIAN SIGNS – Global advertisement and its discontents

  • These are the main objectives of the seminar:
  • Briefly introduce two recent advertising campaigns, one of them relatively global (meant to promote a brand for the world market), the other one relatively local (meant to promote a brand for the Eastern, and mostly the Indian market);
  • Show how these two campaigns, although working for brands that belong to the same corporation, adopt strategies that associate these brands with contradictory values: a global ethics of “esthetic sincerity” on the one hand, a local ethics of “esthetic insincerity “ on the other hand
  • …in order to demonstrate that a) many corporations transform ethics into an argument for marketing and advertising rhetoric; b) many corporations mould ethics according to the market they address; c) semiotics can turn out as useful for the analysis and de-mystification of these strategies.

Massimo Leone – University of Turin

Sozopol, EFSS 2008

massimo.leone@unito.it

slide3

DISTOPIAN SIGNS – Global advertisement and its discontents

The Dove Campaign For Real Beauty was launched by Unilever in 2003, to coincide with the expansion of the Dove brand from soaps and other cleansing solutions to health and beauty products in general, including deodorants, shower gels, hair-care, and  skin-care products. The first stage of the campaign focused on a series of billboard advertisements, initially put up in the UK, and later worldwide. The spots showcased photographs of “regular” women (in place of professional models), taken by noted portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz.

The ads invited passers-by to vote on whether a particular model was, for example, “Fat or Fab” or “Wrinkled or Wonderful”, with the results of the votes dynamically updated and displayed on the billboard itself.

Massimo Leone – University of Turin

Sozopol, EFSS 2008

massimo.leone@unito.it

slide4

DISTOPIAN SIGNS – Global advertisement and its discontents

The Dove Campaign For Real Beauty

Massimo Leone – University of Turin

Sozopol, EFSS 2008

massimo.leone@unito.it

slide5

DISTOPIAN SIGNS – Global advertisement and its discontents

[VIDEO 1] Pro Age: semiotic analysis

DOVE beauty

Youth

Old age

Conventional

BEAUTY

Conventional

UGLINESS

Non old age

Non youth

DOVE beauty

This semantic structure is expressed by a careful selection of the bodies represented in the spot, as well as by a careful way of representing bodily “imperfections”.

Massimo Leone – University of Turin

Sozopol, EFSS 2008

massimo.leone@unito.it

slide6

DISTOPIAN SIGNS – Global advertisement and its discontents

[VIDEO 2 and 3] Little girls and Daughters: semiotic analysis

DOVE self-esteem

How one is

Satisfaction

Low self-esteem

Cosmetic self-esteem

DIssatisfaction

How one would like to be

DOVE self-esteem

This semantic structure is expressed by a careful selection of the girls represented in the spot, as well as by a careful way of combining images and verbal descriptions of “imperfections”.

Massimo Leone – University of Turin

Sozopol, EFSS 2008

massimo.leone@unito.it

slide7

DISTOPIAN SIGNS – Global advertisement and its discontents

Evolution is an advertising campaign launched by Unilever in 2006 as part of its Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, to promote the newly created Dove Self-Esteem Fund. The core of the Unilever campaign is a 75-second spot produced by Ogilvy & Mather in Toronto, Canada. The spot was first displayed online on October 6, 2006, and was later broadcast as a television and cinema spot in the Netherlands and the Middle East. Evolution was directed by Canadian director Yale Staav, with sound design handled by the Vapor Music Group, and post-production by SoHo.

Evolution is the first advertising video that points at the causes of the low self-esteem of women (according to Dove): the advertising discourse produced by the beauty industry.

The message that Evolution conveys is therefore paradoxical: Dove is part of the beauty industry, yet it produces an advertising message that accuses the advertising discourse of the beauty industry, considered as responsible for the low self-esteem of the women of the world.

[VIDEO 4]: Evolution

Massimo Leone – University of Turin

Sozopol, EFSS 2008

massimo.leone@unito.it

slide8

DISTOPIAN SIGNS – Global advertisement and its discontents

Semiotic analysis of Evolution

The spot turns around two semantic categories: immanence (to be versus not to be) and manifestation (to appear versus not to appear). The square of veridiction, elaborated by Greimas and Floch, is very suitable to analyze the way texts express the interplay of these two categories.

TRUTH

To be

To appear

SECRET

LIE

Not to appear

Not to be

FALSITY

Massimo Leone – University of Turin

Sozopol, EFSS 2008

massimo.leone@unito.it

slide9

DISTOPIAN SIGNS – Global advertisement and its discontents

Semiotic analysis of Evolution

TRUTH

To be

To appear

SECRET

LIE

Not to appear

Not to be

FALSITY

Two possible paths of persuasions: persuade that 1) what appears is actually not (passage from truth to lie); 2) what does not appear actually is (passage from secret to truth).

Massimo Leone – University of Turin

Sozopol, EFSS 2008

massimo.leone@unito.it

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DISTOPIAN SIGNS – Global advertisement and its discontents

[VIDEO 5] Onslaught: semiotic analysis

Onslaught proposes the semantic opposition mothers versus the beauty industry:

the discourse of mothers versus the discourse of the beauty industry

love the way you are versus change yourself

beauty industry versus Dove

Massimo Leone – University of Turin

Sozopol, EFSS 2008

massimo.leone@unito.it

slide11

DISTOPIAN SIGNS – Global advertisement and its discontents

Demystifications of Dove discourse

1) The aesthetic demystification: Slob evolution by Simon Willows;

2) The ecological demystification: Onslaught(er) by Green Peace;

3) The cultural demystification: Fair and Handsome

Massimo Leone – University of Turin

Sozopol, EFSS 2008

massimo.leone@unito.it

slide12

DISTOPIAN SIGNS – Global advertisement and its discontents

Demystifications of Dove discourse

1) The aesthetic demystification: Slob evolution[VIDEO 6]

The piece was directed by Simon Willows, known for his work on the Volvic mineral water television and cinema commercials, and was produced by Claire Jones with the production company Blink Productions. Post-production work was done by Framestore CFC. The slob actor is Matt Craigie.

Massimo Leone – University of Turin

Sozopol, EFSS 2008

massimo.leone@unito.it

slide13

DISTOPIAN SIGNS – Global advertisement and its discontents

Demystifications of Dove discourse

1) The aesthetic demystification: Slob evolution

Here the “timic category” is projected onto the square of veridiction in a different way than in Dove’s Evolution:

DOVE Evolution

SLOB Evolution

TRUTH

TRUTH

To be

To appear

To be

To appear

SECRET

LIE

SECRET

LIE

Not to appear

Not to be

Not to appear

Not to be

FALSITY

FALSITY

Massimo Leone – University of Turin

Sozopol, EFSS 2008

massimo.leone@unito.it

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DISTOPIAN SIGNS – Global advertisement and its discontents

Demystifications of Dove discourse

2) The ecologic demystification: Onslaught(er)[VIDEO 7]

3) The cultural demystificationFair and Lovely and Fair and Handsome.

http://www.fairandlovely.in/Foundation/Foundation/overview.aspx

Massimo Leone – University of Turin

Sozopol, EFSS 2008

massimo.leone@unito.it

slide15

DISTOPIAN SIGNS – Global advertisement and its discontents

Demystifications of Dove discourse

3) The cultural demystificationFair and Lovely and Fair and Handsome.

Massimo Leone – University of Turin

Sozopol, EFSS 2008

massimo.leone@unito.it

slide16

DISTOPIAN SIGNS – Global advertisement and its discontents

Demystifications of Dove discourse

3) The cultural demystificationFair and Lovely and Fair and Handsome

Massimo Leone – University of Turin

Sozopol, EFSS 2008

massimo.leone@unito.it

slide17

DISTOPIAN SIGNS – Global advertisement and its discontents

CONCLUSIONS: the same multinational corporation, the same global capital, spouses an ethics of aesthetic sincerity in the West (stay as you are) and an ethics of aesthetic insincerity in the East (change the way you are).

SEMIO-ETHICS: expose the way ethics is transformed into a marketing strategy in order to produce more human advertising.

Massimo Leone – University of Turin

Sozopol, EFSS 2008

massimo.leone@unito.it