Semiotic Analysis

11 Pages   |   1,767 Words
Table of Contents
Introduction. 3
Denotation. 3
Connotation. 5
Ideological Analysis: 6
Conclusion. 7
References. 9


The color print ad I chose introduces an antiperspirant that stays on in heat, humidity, and water through three main types of signs; linguistic signs, visual signs and stylistic/formal signs associated with photography and graphic design.
The paper is divided into four major sections. The first section will report the denotative description of the image and how different words and signs have been used in the ad to convey the message. The second section describes the connotative part of the image. I will go back to the image and explain why and how the signs have been utilized, discuss their connotative meaning of this ad and highlight syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations between these signs. Next section is about the ideological analysis of the image, and the last section reports the conclusion.

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The ad uses three types of signs to convey the message: linguistic signs, stylistic signs, and visual signs. Linguistic signs are the use of language to convey the target message, stylistic sign is the method and style utilized to convey the message and visual signs are the use of visual signs (Feng & O'Halloran, 2012). Background and other parts related to visuals used to convey the message in the most effective way (Freire, 2014).
The use of linguistic signs appears at the bottom of the ad. In the bottom gray textbox, it says, “WATER PROOF. WORRY PROOF. CANNONBALL PROOF”, the lettering of which is dark blue, similar to the color of water. Under the capital words, there’s a line of words with simple, which says “Introducing a long-lasting antiperspirant that stays on in the heat, humidity, and water”. Through this linguistic sign, people can have a general understanding of the product (Cohn, 2010).
The white textbox next to the gray one is an image of the outer packaging of the product “secret clinical strength”. The three words can convey most of the message and seem to appeal to the common customers as nowadays everyone wants to know the secrets to health and strength. The word “waterproof” (white letters on blue) is written in the middle of the box that illustrated the importance of the feature. The lower part of the box is pictured with water and has lace-shaped spray and the words “because you’re hot” in italics.
There is a “3B” principle in the advertisement creativity——Beauty, Baby, and Beas, which are considered as the most attractive magic weapons in ad (Goldenberg, Mazursky, & Solomon, 1999).Among the three, the beauty’s frequency of occurrence is the highest. In the center of this ad is a well-built girl with blue bikini; about 20 years old. She has brown hair, healthy bronze skin, slim body, plump breasts and her body is perfectly contoured and has healthy looking skin; she seems very energetic and enjoying the moment with her one hand holding her feet to balance the jump and the other one in the air representing her level of joy.
A couple is sitting in the background with their legs half in the swimming pool; they are curiously looking at the girl while she jumps in the swimming pool. They have mixed expressions of surprise and curiosity on their faces. Their proximity explains that they are a couple. Two guys and a girl are also standing in the right of the background, and the girl among them is looking back at the girl jumping in the swimming pool. There are few other guys and girls in the background, but they are in the shadows. The swimming pool is a regular-shaped square swimming pool, and the lighting of the swimming pool is noticeable, as it is very bright blue color representing and enhancing the freshness of the water.


It’s reasonable to start the discussion with the ad’s location. The setting of the ad is a swimming pool, which is a popular place for people to go in the summer. Though the ad is just an ichnography, viewers can still experience the flow of the pure and clean water in it (Read, Think, Write, 2015).
A swimming pool is a popular place in the summer. Since an antiperspirant is usually used in summer, the pleasant background of a swimming pool with bright blue water, people’s hearts can be touched in the hot season because it gives a soothing effect when the sun is scorching the planet. This technique is called pathos, which can build a bridge between potential consumers and sellers (Edlund & Pomona, 2015). More importantly, the water in the pool meets the waterproof function of the product.
As mentioned above, the white box is the outer packaging of the product, which tells the name and the characteristic of it. It is worth mentioning that the words “because you’re hot” may have two meanings. On one hand, “hot” refers to the summer’s temperature. Because you’re hot in summer, then you may need this antiperspirant to bring you freshness. On the other hand, “hot” is used to describe one’s beautiful and sexy body and face. It is a symbolism technique used in advertising to convey the message more persuasively (Joseph, 2015). If buying and then using this product, you may become as sexy as the girl.
Then look at the“WATER PROOF. WORRY PROOF. CANNONBALL PROOF” in the gray textbox. “WORRY PROOF” means you need not worry that the antiperspirant will be invalid once touching water. And “CANNONBALL PROOF” is a funny expression, which shows that no matter in the heat, humidity or water, the antiperspirant will stay on. The combination of them not only interests the viewers but also help them catch on the connotation instead of misunderstanding it (Labrador, Ramon, Moreton, Gonzalez, & Sanjurjo, 2014). Besides, the use of negative color in lettering can be a match of the blue water. They together give people a cool feeling in hot summer.
The focus of the ad is the young and beautiful girl. There’s no doubt that she is the user of the product. In addition that people can feast their eyes on her attractive appearance, her unhesitating jump into the pool serves as a confirmation that people need not to worry that the antiperspirant cannot stay on in the water. The picture also portrays health, courage and fun-loving behavior. In other word, Instant glance at the picture pops up two words in the brain; youthfulness and fun.
The functional contrast between the heroine and the other figures is a paradigm. The main reason for the differentiation between them lies apparently in the use of “secret clinical strength”. The other people being in the shadows and the heroine in bright light with a youthful smile on her face shows that using the product would bring a change in your life and make you stand out in public.

Ideological Analysis:

The ideology of the ad is not limited to a comfort of the summer season; it goes way beyond that. The ad portrays something that is probably the biggest desire of someone’s life; to have fun, happiness, and carelessness. The girl being in the middle of the picture and jumping in the water successfully represents that and assures that the product can satisfy the ‘fun-loving’ nature of a person. Nowadays, as globalization has raised the emotional and psychological pressure of the planet, every person looks for an opportunity to get rid of the stress at least on temporary basis (Vogli, T, & John, 2004).
As other people are in the shadows, and the user of the product is in the highlight and center of attention, it relates to an instinct of the social animal; attention. On the other hand, people are irritated of other starring at them all the time and noticing them. It would be a dream place for everyone if no one notices their appearance and what they are doing (Walters, Dautenhahn, Boekhorst, & Koay, 2007). Supposedly, if the girl was interacting with someone else, the message of carelessness and fun could not have been conveyed properly.
The water is bright yet calm, and the girl is jumping into the water with a youthful expression and energy that represents that the use of the product has made her careless, courageous. When the girl jumps in the water, the water would definitely generate chaotic waves and movements that portray that after using the product, wherever the girl goes, she transfers the youthful and full of life effect to everything she touches.


The ad I chose for this assignment uses the integration of different approaches to convey its message and appeal to the viewers. Through the comparison between the heroine and the other figures, the ad gives prominence to the user of “secret clinical strength”. The reason she is prominent, beautiful and fresh is that she uses this product. And even though she jumps into the water, the effect of the antiperspirant will not disappear, which can to some extent dispel some people’s misgivings. In other words, the image and the text are cleverly connected; each is in accordance with the other. To sum up, the comparison and the combination as a whole well introduce the characteristics and benefits of the product.


Cohn, N. (2010, April). Extra! Extra! Semantics in Comics: The Conceptual Structure of Chicago Tribune Advertisement. Journal of Pragmatics, 42(14), 3138-3146.
Edlund, J., & Pomona, C. (2015). Ethos, Logos, Pathos: Three Ways to Persuade. Retrieved March 19, 2015, from Calstatela:
Feng, D., & O'Halloran, K. (2012). Representing Emotive Meaning in Visual Images: A Social Semiotic Approach. Journal of Pragmatics, 44(14), 2067-2084.
Freire, A. (2014, May). When Luxury Advertising Adds the Identity Values of Luxury: A Semiotic Analysis. Journal of Business Research, 67(12), 2666-2675.
Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D., & Solomon, S. (1999). The fundamental Templates of Quality Ads. Retrieved March 19, 2015, from GSB.Columbia:
Joseph, J. (2015). Examples of Metaphors in Advertising . Retrieved March 19, 2015, from Small Business Chron:
Labrador, B., Ramon, N., Moreton, A., Gonzalez, & Sanjurjo. (2014). Rhetorical Structure and Persuasive Language in the Subgenre of Online Advertisement. English for Specific Purposes, 34, 38-47.
Read, Think, Write. (2015). Persuasive Techniques in Advertising. Retrieved March 19, 2015, from Read, Think, Write:
Vogli, D., T, C., & John, D. (2004). Change, Psychological Stress and health in an Era of Globalization. University Collge London: Faculty og, 1, 42.
Walters, M., Dautenhahn, K., Boekhorst, R., & Koay, K. (2007). Avoiding the Uncanny Valley – Robot Appearance, Personality and Consistency of Behavior in an Attention-Seeking Home Scenario for a Robot Companion. Adaptive Systems Research Group, 24.

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