Analyzing Television Commercials

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					Analyzing Television
   Commercials



     Chapter 9
            Mini-Video or Film Dramas

 TV commercials are much more complex than print
    advertisements
   They can have many more elements in them
   Such as narrative, dialogue, music, various shots and
    editing techniques
   TV “spots” or “CXs” store much more information
    than do print ads with photographs
   Each frame or image in a TV spot is, in a sense,
    similar to a print ad
    15 Questions to Ask about TV Commercials

 Plot of the narrative?       How is sound used? Is
 Characters are in the CX?       there music? What kind?
 Describe their faces           What kinds of shots?
 What do they say to each       Editing techniques?
    other?                       Are there intertextual
   Where does the CX take        references? References
    place?                        to other works? Parodies,
   Are props used?               well-known characters?
   How is color used?           Does the CX rely on
                                  background knowledge?
   Describe the lighting
                                 What role does the
                                  product have in society?
           Apple’s “1984” Commercial

 Aired once and only once during the 1984 Super
  Bowl, this 60 second CX is considered one of the best
  and most complex ever
 Apple founder/CEO Steve Jobs unveils never-before-
  seen commercial prior to the Super Bowl (here)
 Ridley Scott discusses directing this commercial (here)
 Apple’s iconic 1984 ad- 25 years later (CNET article)
                 The Text and its Imagery
   Orwell’s “1984” book
   Repression                       “Big Blue” IBM as the enemy
   Storm troopers                   A big explosion
   Heavy boots                      A short, simple message at the
   Prisoners/Inmates                 end:
   Uniforms                         On January 24th, Apple
   Brainwashing                      Computers will introduce
                                      Macintosh and you will see
   “Marching Zombies”                why 1984 won’t be like
   Blond woman in white              “1984.”
   Sledgehammer                     Implies this new computer
   Broken television screen          has enormous political and
   “Big Brother” figure              social implications
                                     It has the power to save us
   Heroine as mythic figure          from ending up like prisoners,
    battling a monolithic monster     victims of a totalitarian state
               Clever Marketing Strategy

 Apple and the Chiat/Day ad agency that designed “1984” took
    an unusual approach
   It focused not so much on the benefits derived from using a
    Macintosh but instead on the dangers inherent in not using
    one
   The ending implied in the “1984”
    commercial focused on the avoidance
    of something hateful rather than gaining
    something desirable
   Not a huge success in sales- 17,000 sold first day– well below
    expectations, but a brilliant brand launch which put Apple
    and its Macintosh more in the home computer conversation in
    a unique and positive way for the company
   And the rest is….history!

				
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posted:10/3/2011
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