For this assignment, you will write an essay that analyzes an ad campaign, focusing on at least two commercials in that campaign. A â€œcampaignâ€ is a coordinated series of ads that revolve around a central theme: often there is one main commercial that launches the campaign, followed by more commercials that pick up elements of the theme.
PREWRITING: You will need to watch your two commercials VERY carefully. These questions will help you note the details you need in order to interpret the campaign:
- WHO are the main characters in this commercial? Distinguish between main & background characters. Take notes on the main character(s): age, sex, race, physical appearance, cultural signifiers, etc.
- WHO are the background characters? Notice the general ages, races, sexes. What is their role in relation to the action of the commercial?
- WHERE does action take place? Take notes on the settingâ€”can you tell what city theyâ€™re in, if itâ€™s an urban setting? How can you tell? Is it outdoors or indoors? Rural or urban? Domestic (inside a house), & if so, what kind of domestic setting–luxurious or plain? Exotic or mundane?
- LISTEN to the audio for the following things:
- â€”what do the characters say to one another? GET THE SCRIPT, either by listening or from this site: http://lybio.net/. Take notes on which characters say what, what their voices sound like, etc.
- â€”if there is a voice-over, what is the script? Do you recognize the voice? If itâ€™s a celebrity voice, what cultural meanings are attached to that celebrity (e.g., Michael Jordan = the greatest, hard worker, excellence)? What does the voice sound likeâ€”deep, high, male, female, excited, calmâ€¦? (www.ispot.tv/browse can help you find out if any celebrities were involved)
- : if there is music, is it a recognizable song (e.g., Aloe Blaccâ€™s â€œIâ€™m the Manâ€ in the Beats by Dre commercials) or is it written for that commercial (e.g., music in the Army Strong commercial). What does it sound likeâ€”energetic, calm, inspiring? Does the music begin with the commercial or does it come in laterâ€”& if so, when? What is happening visually in the story at the moment the music changes?
- Ambient Sound: ambient sounds are background noises that make a scene sound real, like wind/crickets for an outdoor scene; clinking glasses/a cash register/footsteps for a diner; honking cars for an urban street. What mood do these sounds create?
- WATCH the composition/framing of the camera shots. Are there close-ups? Extreme close-ups? Wide-angle shots? Medium shots? See for a list of the different kinds of shots that camera-people use. Different shots/frames create different moods.
- WATCH the camera anglesâ€”use for a list of the different kinds of camera angles.
Resources: Your interpretation will be your own, but I do want you to do some background research on your campaign. There are publications that review and discuss ad campaignsâ€”two big ones are Adweek and Advertising Age. I want you to incorporate information that you find about your campaign and cite it properly.
Even though you are writing about TV commercials, you are still making an argument: you are trying to persuade readers to accept your interpretation of the campaign. Your claim will present your interpretation of the commercials; your reasons will explain why you see them as you do; & yourevidence will consist of descriptions of what is happening in the commercials.
Campaign 1 :
Campaign 2 :