Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bend it Like Beckham

In both the Gill and van Zooen readings there was a discussion over semiotics. The first discussion was over the three different kinds of signs: iconic, indexical and symbolic signs. The first are "signs which resemble to object, person or place being represented" (Gill 47). Indexical signs have a direct connection between the signifier and what is signified. Symbolic signs are based on what a culture has defined them to be. The next step in the process of semiotics is denotation and connotation, where the first is looking into the direct meaning, while connotation is looking for further meaning. Both of these authors followed these basic structural points for semiotics.
The process of semiotics has been used a great deal in advertising, and in honor of Superbowl I've decided to chose an ad from the game. The advertisement is of David Beckham. He is wearing a pair of white briefs and nothing else. He makes sexy glances at the camera, shows off his muscles, and the camera goes over all of his body and at the end the audience finds out that the ad is for H&M, a clothing brand. It seems to be an iconic sign, the ad is David Beckham being David Beckham but Beckham can also be a cultural sign as he is an international sex symbol. The denotation of the ad is that it is Beckham, almost naked, advertising for clothes. After looking further though it seems to be more about selling Beckham as the brand. He is attractive, has sex appeal, and is cool. The lack of clothes for a clothing line gets rid of the importance of clothes and focuses solely on Beckham. This informs the audience that this ad is geared towards women and their attractions to Beckham. By using an iconic cultural sex symbol H&M are selling Beckham and because they have him they don't need to show clothes because they believe selling him will make customers come to their store.
After I did the reading I watched the superbowl. It was amazing how much more I looked into things about the ads once I started to recognize the signs. A Victoria Secret model did an ad for flowers, but because I think of her as a iconic sign of Victoria Secret I automatically assumed the ad was for them. The Beckham ad stood out to me the most because I had never seen an ad so geared towards women. One of my friends actually said it was too much. When I asked him if he would be ok with it if it was a woman doing it, he said he'd be fine with it. Beckham being seductive to the camera was a rare instance of focusing solely on a female audience and using signs as a way of focusing on Beckham and thereby linking the brand H&M to him.

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