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Spectatorship and Power Relationships in Advertising

February 19, 2013

When learning about the gaze, I thought, “Why is this so important?” I have come to realize that the gaze is used by everyone in everyday life. We see ads almost every day and for the most part just know what the ad is telling us. When you look more closely at ads, you can pick them apart and really see what the advertiser is trying to get across to his or her viewers. With this assignment I could see that we really have to look at the audience’s connection with each image, and each person in that image.

In the magazine advertisement for Koper Design with one human, the subject does not, in fact, seem to be aware that she is the object of the photo and she does not know she is being viewed by the spectator. The characteristics of the photo that support my answer are the fact that the girl in this ad is glancing behind her, not at the viewer, but at something else we cannot be sure about. She seems to be hiding almost, or seem shy. Her gaze does not go up I the air at above the viewer, her gaze does not go down below the viewer, and she does not seem to be looking at the viewer. She seems to be glancing at something behind her a ways. The fact that she seems to be hiding matches almost perfectly with the actual image. The fact that her dress is the same pattern as the background behind her looks like she is trying to blend into her surroundings (almost like a chameleon). The words in the advertisement, “Now you see it” don’t really matter that much because the ad says that for itself.

ad 1

In the magazine advertisement for Handi Wrap with two people, one subject is looking directly at the viewer and the other is looking to one side at someone or something that is not seen in the ad. The subject in the advertisement that seems to have the power in the advertisement is the woman. The evidence in this ad that supports my claim is that the woman is positioned in front of the man. The woman is also holding the product being advertised, and showing it off and how durable it is. By her being the one that is showing off the product, you can see she is the one that holds the power of the viewer’s gaze. You can tell this advertisement is an older one. This is because of the hairdo of the woman as well as her dress. This ad is a stereotypical “woman making sandwiches for the man.” The woman is showing the viewer how easy and durable Handi Wrap is to use. There is even proof of this by the happiness of the man’s face behind her. I think that all in all, the fact that the woman’s gaze is at the viewer make’s her the more powerful one point blank. It is like she is staring at whoever looks at this ad saying, “This product is great, buy it.”

ad 2

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