“Creative without strategy is called ‘art. ‘ Creative with strategy is called ‘advertising. ”- Jeff I. Richards. Advertising is a way of persuading an audience to take some sort of action that a company is displaying in the advertisement. Whether it’s in a poster, commercial, billboard, or sidebar on a website, they’re all after one common goal: to capture one’s attention and leave their idea in the reader’s head. As Jeff I. Richards said, advertising is all about strategy. What aspects of the advertisement win the consumer over? Is it the fonts, the images, or the color scheme?
Did they use humor or sex appeal? All of these are facets to the art of advertising. It is infamously known as the “only form of legal lying. ” Sometimes, even if it means twisting the truth, companies will do whatever it takes to win a consumer over with their ads. And they managed to do that pretty well with myself! A specific advertisement in a magazine that caught my attention was one by Nivea, a skin care brand. They sell a range of products, mostly lotions and moisturizers . But this specific ad was one for a strengthening nail polish.
The ad portrays a woman’s painted nail cutting open aluminum can. Obviously it’s blasphemy, a human nail does not have the ability to cut open an aluminum can, but this is just a perfect example of how twisted the advertising and marketing industry is. But this ad does have a strong ability to sell its product to its target audience, which in this case, are women. The advertisement’s audience demographic, composition and layout, color, images and ideas all come together to sell the product: Nivea strengthening nail polish.
When I first saw this ad in a magazine, I was actually very impressed. It’s a very clever and quirky advertisement. At first I thought it was silly and dumb, but as I looked at it more I realized how effective it could be. Although I know that it is impossible to open a can with just nails, it really does sit subconsciously in the back of my mind that this nail polish actually makes your nails very strong. If I were to go to a store and see this Nivea nail polish, that ad would be the first thing to pop in my head. And honestly, I would tempted to buy it.
And I’m sure that was Nivea’s main intention, to trick consumers like myself. The setup of this ad was obviously thought out carefully. My eyes were immediately drawn to the red nail. Red is an extremely powerful color used in advertising. It causes excitement, increases heart and breathing rate, and can even cause one to become angry. But it is more commonly known as a color that tends to arouse both men and women, and is usually used in lipstick, perfume, and in this case, nail polish advertisements (The Colors Team).
The nail, obviously being a woman’s, gives off a slight sense of sex appeal; red being a sexual and romantic color. It does not necessarily sexually arouse the audience, but it makes the reader want to be the person in the ad; makes them enjoy looking at the person (Fowles 4). The way it’s highly contrasting the darker, almost dully colored background makes it stand out very well. It draws all attention to the nail and how it’s cutting the can open. And the fact that the camera is focused on the nail and the can and background are blurry only attracts more attention.
The overall color scheme of the ad has a slightly serious tone; very high contrast and a reduced saturated colored background, almost grayscale. The shiny black can gives off the essence of excellence (The Colors Team). All these factors combined gives off the tone of strength, without even looking at what specifically the nail is doing to the can. Then you see that the nail is supposedly cutting open an aluminum can with just the nail itself. This brings about some humor because it’s obvious that a nail cannot open an aluminum can on its own.
But basically Nivea is trying to say that this nail polish makes your nails so strong it will have the cutting ability of a can opener or a knife. But with further examination, a weasel is discovered in this ad. In the left bottom corner by the logo, it says “For extra strong, extra long nails” (Schrank). Although portrayed in the ad that using this nail polish will supposedly give you the ability to cut open aluminum can only using the nail, in reality we know this isn’t true. This statement acts as a weasel and also an unfinished statement as well (Lutz 100).
When saying “extra long, extra strong nails”, it doesn’t specify exactly what they’re trying to say. Extra-long nails? Longer than the tiny stubs they were before? Or extra strong; stronger than the extremely brittle and weak nails that the consumer already has? There are gaps in that statement. Obviously, nail polish ads are going to be aimed at the women demographic. The age range of readers probably is around early twenties, all the way late 40’s or 50’s, where nails may start to get brittle. This advertisement appeals to the need for attention (Fowles 3).
The need for physical beauty is very prevalent in today’s society, where the cosmetic and beauty industry is taking over the young girls mind. Seventeen magazine, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, and many other fashion and beauty magazines are all giving women pseudo notions of what beauty really is. Nivea, probably knowing this factor, shows in the ad that having strong, beautiful nails will make women feel more attractive, and ultimately feel wanted. And tying back the color scheme, red is a color of elegance; therefore making women feel elegant if they wear this nail polish, whether in that specific color or not.
This ad appeals mostly to the middle class women, lower class might not be able to afford maintaining their nails and upper class probably get their treated at a salon. Although the finger in the ad is light skinned, I don’t believe it is aimed at a certain racial or ethnic group of people. If a man was to run across this advertisement, he obviously will look at it differently. The aluminum can, at a first glance, looks like a paint can. And since the color is so bold on the finger, this ad might be mistaken for an advertisement for a paint brand.
Or, although this may seem far-fetched, one that would analyze this ad could see this as empowerment to women. If this ad is viewed, and like mentioned above, mistaken for a paint brand ad, this could be viewed as a women cutting open a paint can that is usually left for tools, or even men to open. The red being the feminine color and the color scheme in the background being somewhat masculine could be saying that women are going where they haven’t before and doing tasks, such as the stereotypical “I can’t open this can”, and proving people otherwise.
I feel there are numerous ways to analyze an advertisement, and like art or poetry, I don’t think there is “one right answer”. But the color scheme isn’t the only thing that plays a part in this ad. Although it is very minimal, the font in the lower right corner plays a role as well. The font is written in all caps and white. White is a color that signifies cleanliness, virginity, and essentially, perfection (Color Wheel Pro). Using all caps letters makes it much easier to the eye and easier to read. Also, using white against the dark background makes it stand out more.
Especially in today’s times, consumers have a 50% lower attention span (Richard 2). Easy and quick font is a necessity in advertisements. They need the reader to just glance quickly and keep the idea in their head. Sans Serif fonts are also a lot easier to the eye than Serif fonts (Ex: Arial vs. Times New Roman). Although small and seemingly unimportant, font color, size, and style are actually an essential part of this ad. Whether it’s another nail polish ad or a public service announcement, all ads are after the same common goal: to capture the reader’s attention for long enough to get the reader to remember their message.
Like Jeff I. Richards said, advertisement is nothing more than art, but with strategy. Using the color scheme, fonts, and images strategically can be the difference between consumer buying the product or not. One of the most successful strategies that is used in advertisements is sex appeal. Even if subtle, it can make a huge difference. Color, images, font style, composition and audience demographic all come together to convince one more woman in that Nivea ad that she will too, be able to cut open a can using just her nail. Advertising: the only form of legal lying.
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QSX Software Group. “Color Wheel Pro: Color Meaning.” Color Wheel Pro: See Color Theory in Action! QSX Software Group., 2010. Web. 16 Dec. 2011. ;http://www.color-wheel-pro.com/color-meaning.html;.
“Facets Synonyms, Facets Antonyms | Thesaurus.com.” Thesaurus.com | Find Synonyms and Antonyms of Words at Thesaurus.com. Web. 16 Dec. 2011. ;http://thesaurus.com/browse/facets;.
Fowles, Jib. “Jfowles.html.” Books and Blog by Patrick Galloway. Web. 16 Dec. 2011.
“Advertisement Quotes – BrainyQuote.” Famous Quotes at BrainyQuote. Web. 16 Dec. 2011. ;http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/advertisement.html;.
Lutz, William. With These Words I Can Sell You Anything. Doublespeak, 1989. 100-113. Print.
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