Tag Archives: comm200

Soaking Up Ads

Everyday people come across hundred of ad’s a day, usually without even realizing they have read them.  Advertisements are embedded into our everyday lives and easily influence our views or choices. Ideology in advertisement is the belief system behind the ads, what the ad’s values and beliefs suggest and represents the way things should be. Ideology is the framework of how we construe and perceive ads.  In the Three Olives Vodka ad, there is an attractive woman lounging in a martini glass. The slogan “who’s in your martini” is the advertiser’s question to the audience, which would appear to be men, since the woman has a seductive facial expression, enticing them to drink this type of vodka. The question helps the audience understand what the ad is trying to portray to the. The ideology behind this ad is to have men believe if they drink Three Olives vodka, they will end up with a “sexy” woman.

It does not cross everyone’s mind that this ad’s intention is to target men to drink this specific vodka, and will be rewarded with a beautiful woman; so, what’s the point? Does it actually work? Yes it does work, but the point is to create an attractive advertisement with appealing visuals and a catchy slogan, so even if the audience does not realize the ideology behind the ad, they still feel the need to drink Thee Olives vodka and hope an attractive lady will want them. There are concerns of women being depicted, as an object through these types of advertisements today but there is an understanding that ads may not be targeting women as an object. These ads could be considered appealing to both sexes, therefore this issue is “an accepted criticism that advertising is an important and persuasive cultural institution that represents women in a problematic and unacceptable way” (Kates and Shaw-Garlock. 1999.p.33). So, yes, women are being shown in controversial ways, but it is not intentional and it is accepted.

Ideologies are typically used in the theories of Semiotics, Roland Barthes, and Cultural studies, Stuart Hall. Semiotics is the meaning we receive from signs that analyze “anything that can stand for something else”(Griffin. 2009. p.323). There are symbols we see in our everyday life and Semiotics helps us recognize what these symbols are depicting. Semiotics consists signifiers, which is the description of a symbol, and the signified, which is the actual meaning, as we know it. The Signifier of the Three Olives advertisement is the woman in a martini glass and the Signified is if you drink this martini you can get a pretty woman. The myth, the cultural aspect that seems natural, behind this advertisement is the intention of making drinking this specific brand of vodka and appeal to women seem natural and the norm. Barthes’ theory of linguistic message, which also goes along with his Semiotics theory, deals with an “anchor” and “relay system”, where “the anchorage function acts as an anchor between the possible meanings and the meanings the advertisement wishes you to identify” (Ross. 2000). The relay system deals with the text within an image that is explaining what is interpreted. Cultural Studies is the manufacture of mass media that allows dominant ideologies, the “frameworks through which we interpret, understand, and make sense of social existence” (Griffin. 2009. p.335). In Cultural Studies, Stuart Hall discusses the cultural industries. These industries are the producers of today’s culture, i.e. what is on television, the radio, and fashion. Hall believes we are unaware of the influence the industries have on us.

This ad can go as far as showing men, if they drink Three Olives, they can easily communicate with attractive woman. Through Symbolic Interactionism, the concept of Minding could be used in this example. Minding is the split second people take to have an inner-conversation with themselves, to rehearse what they will say, or how they will react to something, minding is also known as “self talk” (Griffin. 2009. p.62). The advertisement depicts after drinking this vodka, men will be able to think in their mind about what to say to a woman and then successfully gain her attention. This drink could also represent a substance that can help someone “take the role of the other” and allow him or her to imagine themselves as the other person and see how he or she views you. Three Olives could be the push that men need to have the confidence and know how females view him.

A parody of this ad may not be comical, but can help people make a smart choice while having a good time. Drinking and driving is a serious and common issue, and a lot of alcohol companies are trying to address the seriousness of drinking and driving, “mass media campaigns are most likely to reduce drinking and driving if their messages are reinforced by other efforts…reinforcing includes media messages related to drinking and driving” (Preventive Medicine. 2004). A lot of companies today have “drink responsibly” included into their advertisements. Advertising companies realize alcohol is one of the most popular products out there, so they need to find a positive message to put out to their audience, but also make sure there are no negative side affects from their influence. This Three Olives ad represents the consequences of drinking and driving by showing a good time could end in a bad time. The car pile up in a shape of an alcohol bottle helps the audience connect drinking and driving to the subject, without having to read the words. The signifiers are a car pile up shaped as an alcohol bottle with the words drink responsibly and the signified is drinking and driving leads to car accidents. The Minding that would go on after seeing this ad, could be thinking about how much you have had to drink and whether you need to ask for a safe ride or not. Which could lead to asking an attractive lady friend for a ride, which could reference their old ads, but in a responsible way. Women like men who are safe and responsible, therefore it is a win win situation. This parody shows that the cultural industries are starting to care about people using their products as well as keeping their costumers safe.

The influence advertisement has over us is inevitable and it is the industries’ jobs to make sure they are positive. These ads communicate so much more than what we see by just glancing at them. By using communication theories, we can start to understand what the media is trying to portray to us, and we can decide whether their message is directed at us or not. The ideology behind advertisements is to make sure the product appeals to the audience’s values and social existence. By knowing the meanings behind these theories, it is easier to read into what today’s mass media is feeding us and we can maybe one day use our communication knowledge and be a part of the cultural industry.

Using subvertising, or parodies, we can take a serious subject, such as drunk driving, and turn it into an interesting and eye-catching media representation. People need to be lured and enticed or else they will not listen or pay attention. By using current themes and interesting visual aids, advertisers can achieve their audience’s attention. As long as the symbol’s signifier and signified are identifiable, the audience can easily be hooked.


  1. Griffin, E. (2008). Communication: A first look at communication theory (7th ed.) Boston: McGraw-Hill
  2. Kates, Steven M., Shaw-Garlock, Glenda. (1999). The Ever Entangling Web: A Study of Ideologies and Discourses in Advertising to women. 33-49.
  3. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. (2004). Effectiveness of mass media campaigns for reducing drinking and driving and alcohol-involved crashes. Volume 27, Issue 1. 57-65.
  4. Ross, Cassandra. (2000). Seeing Ourselves: An Analysis of Ideology and Fantasy in Popular Advertising. Retrieved from: http://www.slideshare.net/sgummer/ideology-in-advertising
  5. Image: http://www.adrants.com/2010/04/crashed-cars-deliver-drunk-driving.php



God Karen You’re So Stupid

It is usually assumed that most of our generation has seen, if not memorized, the movie “Mean Girls”.  This movie is a drastic and over dramatized version of how girls act towards each other in the high school setting. Girls are easily jealous of each other and are commonly talking about, or judging, one another behind their back. “Mean Girls” is an example of how the standpoint teenage girls have on each other, is disturbing and cruel.

Girls excessively judge other girls by using harsh terms such as “whore” or “slut”, without blinking, but if a boy calls a girl by a derogatory name, he is automatically a bad guy. In the movie, Tina Fey’s character tells the girls they need to stop “calling each other sluts and whores…cause it just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores” (Mean Girls, 2004).  Girls’ nasty jealousy towards one another has devolved a new perspective on how everyone views their gender, it is common for a group of “best friends” to talk about one of their other friends in a mean manner and then act “fake” to her face afterwards.

Sandra Harding and Julie T. Wood’s Standpoint Theory is how we perceive the world at one angle and then view something differently in another. Standpoint is “whatever our vantage point, its location tends to focus our attention on some features of the natural and social landscape while obscuring others” (Griffin, 2009. P. 441.). In the movie “Mean Girls”, everyone’s standpoint on girls is that they are caddy and negative towards one another and that standpoint affects their worldview on, not just teenage girls, but women in general. This mean girl example can go with Wood’s use of relational dialect of seeking autonomy and connectedness. She says, “men tend to want more autonomy and women tend to want more connectedness” (Griffin, 2009. P.444.).  The women’s connectedness deals with building relationships using communication, including others, and responding, In “Mean Girls”, the girls are using connectedness, but it is portrayed in a negative fashion, communicating with each other by talking behind their backs, building fake relationships just to become popular, or responding by getting into a “girl fight”.

Girls’ bullying other girls is way too common in high schools today, and it is allowing both genders to have a damaging standpoint on women. If these young ladies could grasp the concept of the Standpoint Theory and understand how their actions affect everyone’s perception of them, perhaps they can change their nasty ways and learn how to get along and improve their gender’s reputation.


  1. Griffin, E. (2008). Communication: A first look at communication theory (7thed.) Boston: McGraw-Hill




Time to Grow Up

Up until last year, if someone would ask me what I wanted to study in college or what I wanted to do as a career, I would stare at them like a deer caught in head lights. I never gave it much thought, mostly because I thought I was Peter Pan and never wanted to grow up, but once I began school at Longwood University, I looked into the Communication Studies program and thought to myself “this is something I can do and fall in love with”. Soon after that, I discovered the show “Mad Men” and decided then and there, that advertisement is the career path I want to take on. More specifically, I want to work on the creative side of advertising and produce logos and slogans for various companies.

The main skills I need to become successful in the advertising world are self-confidence, ability to use my imagination, ability to work independently, and of course, and ability to use a wide range of creativity. Longwood’s Communication Studies program is set up so my fellow Comm majors and I can reach the goals and necessary skills we need for our specific career paths. Before I started Comm studies, I was a terribly awkward public speaker and had zero self-confidence, but after my public speaking class, I know how to feel and appear confident in front of an audience, and know how to construct an appropriate, yet interesting speech.

Along with my Communication Studies, I am also working on a Graphic Design minor. I have always had an interest in creating graphics on programs such as Photoshop and Pixelmator. Having the ability to draw and create designs on the computer will be useful for coming up with logos for different companies. My graphic design knowledge will add to my creative side and allow me to work on various projects.  Since I love to work with children, but teaching never interested me, I want to work for a toy company or an ad agency that works with the toy business. I would be able to think like a kid and create spunky and entertaining slogans for the latest and greatest toys.

The Communication Studies program will tech me how to “analyze, interpret, and express physical and social events and behaviors to others” (Longwood University. 2012). To expand my knowledge and experience with advertising, I can join Longwood’s newspaper team and help create the ad pages or assist with recruiting businesses in Farmville to advertise them. I am looking forward to my future and hope one day to make Donald Draper, (Mad Men), proud.










1. Longwood University.  (2012). Communication Studies. Retrieved from http://www.longwood.edu/career/23013.htm


Put Your Gun Down!

For the past three summers I have worked at a day camp at a private school in my hometown.  I was given a great opportunity to work with children aged 3 to 9 of all characters, shapes, sizes and attitudes. One of the main rules at the Montessori school is no weapons, weapon noises, or weapon references were allowed while at school.  My original instinct was that most of these young children would have no idea what a weapon even looked like, let alone how or why to use one, but through my experience I have observed that it is common for a child as young as 3 years old to have more knowledge on violent weapons than I expected.

Throughout my three years as one of the main administrators at the Montessori school, I came across many incidents that involve violent activity. Whether it was verbal or imaginary weapon use, it always amazed me that despite being so young, they were very educated on weapons and violence in general. I realize that children today have easy access to numerous sources, such as cartoons, comics, and the worst culprit of today’s generation, video games, through which they can learn about violence. I guess I never realized how common and normal it is for average families to own a video game consol. When I was younger, it was the norm for families with young boys to own video games, which usually consisted of games for racing cars and the Super Mario Brothers. Today however, video games are used by both genders and are overall extremely more violent; therefore, children have easier access to being influenced by violence. According to theAmerican Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), “children exposed to violence have shown that they can become ‘immune’ or numb to the horror of violence, imitate the violence, and show more aggressive behavior with greater exposure to violence” (AACAP, 2006). This supports George Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory.

Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory deals with the idea of an excessive amount of one thing, (in this case violent television) leads to perceiving the world in that particular way. Gerbner focuses on heavy TV viewing and how those who are “heavy TV viewers become fertile ground for sowing thoughts of danger” (Griffin, 2009. p.353), meaning those who watch an extreme amount of violent television, will see the world as an unsafe and mean world. The children I work with are exposed to violence as young as 3 years old through sources such as television, but mainly video games. The AACAP states that video games have become more popular than movies and TV, and the realistic feel draws people of all ages in (AACAP, 2006). One way young children are exposed to the more violent genres could be through watching their parents playing these violent games, since adults today get a kick out of life-like gaming as well.

I believe the effect video games have on young children supports Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory, expanding the theory further than the effects of television shows. It is amazing how vulnerable children are and through the massive amounts of violence I have witnessed, while teaching at the Montessori school, even though they think they are being playful, is mind-boggling. Hopefully the younger generations can learn about this theory and realize how influenced we can be, without even realizing it.

1. Children and Video Games: Playing with Violence. (2006, July). AACAP. Retrieved from http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/children_and_video_games_playing_with_violence.

2. Griffin, E. (2008). Communication: A first look at communication theory (7thed.) Boston: McGraw-Hill



Mirror Mirror on the Wall…


We all remember the very first Walt Disney movie, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, and how the wicked Queen constantly stood in front of her magic mirror, desperately wanting to be the fairest one of all. This scene can be taken as a literal example of Mead’s looking glass self phenomenon. The Queen is using the magic mirror to visualize herself as another would, even though she does not like what the mirror has to say. The evil Queen is more focused on the “I” and not the “me”; “the ‘I’ is forever elusive and the ‘me’ is the image of self seen when one takes the role of the other” (Griffin, 2009, p.63).

“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is viewed as the one of many loveable Disney Princess movies, but now, as adults, we can examine different themes that we can apply in our studies.  It’s one thing to watch the movie and think “evil queen and good princess”, but now we can explore why the queen is evil and if that can be related to reality. The queen refuses to listen to what the mirror is telling her, just like if your friend or parent tells you something negative or something you do not agree with. The typical reaction is to dismiss or refute their opinion, or in the queen’s case, to kill Snow White.

In Griffin’s A First Look At Communication Theory, the looking-glass self is “the mental self-image that results from taking the role of the other; the objective self; me” (Griffin 63). This is the idea of viewing yourself through another person, but not knowing exactly what and how they think of you. There is no way of knowing exactly how another sees you, but through language and interaction, one can get an idea of how they are perceived. In “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, the queen is an example of how humans are stubborn and even though we want to know how others view us, we do not always like what we see. The queen is more focused on the “I”, which is what we are born with knowing about ourselves and is too vague to pin point; therefore she did not communicate well with others learn her “me”. She is very reluctant towards the “me”, which is what we gain from others throughout our growing and maturing lives, she refuses to let others bring her down and will do anything in her power to be on top.

The looking-glass self idea is not the norm of continually asking people what they truly think of us, but rather, through communication and relationships, we are unconsciously getting an idea of how we are viewed through others. Symbolic Interactionism allows us to realize the meanings behind “I” and “me”, and how they differ. In my future relationships or conversations, I can focus on specific symbols and hints and maybe get a better idea of how I am seen from another person’s point of view.

Girffin, Em (2009). A First Look At Communication Theory. New York, NY.




About Amanda

Hello fellow bloggers, my name is Amanda Nurmi. I am majoring in Communication Studies with a mass media concentration, was born and raised in Fairfax, Virginia and I am a sophomore at Longwood University. I am a recent member of Alpha Phi Omega, Longwood’s service fraternity. I will have a minor in Graphic Design along with my Communications degree and would like to apply my studies to the world of advertising and create logos or slogans for a children’s toy company.

One of my experiences using communication skills was in my Media and Society class; I had to apply what I have learned in public speaking to properly teach the class a specific critical issue. It was important to use sufficient eye contact, appropriate language, and to convey the message in a manor the audience can understand. I have also worked at a summer day care for three years, and had a chance to use my communication skills at it’s fullest. It was important to know how to communicate to the children in a way they can understand, which helped me relate to them. If things started to become chaotic, I would have to be quick on my feet and know how to redirect their attention to receive cooperation. It was also crucial to have good communicative skills with my co-worker and my boss to make sure we are all on the same page.