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To browse Academia. Skip to main content. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up. Visual Identities. Burcea Manuela. I decided to do this, simply and concretely, by analysing a particular Waterman advertisement that appealed to me from the first time I saw l it I'm not referring, then, to its obvious charm or to its humour; rather to its narrative and linguistic richness.

Let's start by saying that the advertisement is a story: a story about the differences and similarities between two brothers. By narrating their respective! More particularly it deals with such things as school uniforms, handwriting and very specifically the way in which the letter 'W' is drawn - so that the letter itself becomes a symbol of 'tWinship' or 'gemellity'.

But the 'message' of the advertisement is also an example of linguistic syncretism. That is, by combining writing, photography and graphics th.. Qgo to give meaning and value to a brand-nal1. This is because the advert's own purpose is to describe the means by which meaning [signification] is produced and ultimately expressed through various signs and forms of language. This advertisement for Waterman was created by the McCann-Erickson agency.

One advantage of working with units is that they are manageable. But first and foremost, by working segmentally, the semiotician should not isolate details arbitrarily or for their own sake but rather should ensure that each part is always considered as a part of a whole.

For once an overall 'map' can be established the object in question presents itself as a hierarchy. We will explore this below.

The Watennan advertisement Figure 1 which I'm using to introduce the proble. The first consists of everything that produces a perception of a concrete and material reality for the viewer.

That is, we seem to have 'in front of us' a handwritten letter and, as part of the letter, an old photograph and a fountain pen. The second part consists of the typographic text of the advertisement and the trademark.

This part does not give the impression of a direct or immediate reality: rather it reminds us that what we have here is, in fact, only paper, that what we have 'in front of us' is actually just a page of magazine advertising. We can already see, then, that these two parts are manifestations of two different discourses. The first part is the manifestation of a discourse about an T.

The second is the discoursc9i. This shows that a statement can b'e-more than just verbal; it. But let's stay, for a moment, with the segmentation of the advertisement rather than opening up an analysis of its contents.

And - even before we proceed with the segmentation - let's equip ourselves with an initial visual representation of the combination of the different units that have been uncovered in the advertisement J 2. See 1. Simiotique, marketing el communication Paris: Presses Un;versitaires de France. In this instance I am not taking into account the small element functioning outside the text of the advertisement proper: the signature of the McCann agency, positioned vertically on the top right.

And let's start, arbitrarily perhaps, with part of the discourse of the brand name: the typographic text at the bottom of the page, rather than the handwritten text. The typographic text Figure 2 can itself be broken down in three parts. Each of these focuses on the pen: A pen only lets you write; a Waterman lets you express yourself. A precision instrument carefully crafted by goldsmiths with a balance that comes from attention to detail, its elegant shape is enhanced by precious metals; the nibs are carat gold.

The Waterman pen has delivered quality of this kind for over a century. A pen with class, with subtle and dynamic lines, the 'Gentleman' is a sign of good taste. It comes in various colours, as a fountain-pen, a ballpoint, a propelling pencil or a rollerball. The first statement establishes the difference between a Waterman and any ordinary pen.

By contrast, an 'ordinary' pen could only be invested with sheer use value; the disposable ballpOint being a case in point. The second statement is about Waterman pens in general. Un Watennan de s'exprimer. Finally, the third statement establishes both the thematic and the figurative or representational levels of the pen's identity value.

To explain this we could say that identity is, at least in this instance, defined by good taste. This has to do with the elaboration of the thematic level which is a matter of taste.. This identity could well have been different; it could have been, for example, public, geographical or political. But following that initial specification or realization, identity becomes figurative. It takes on the shape of a 4 specific pen: the 'Gentleman', made by Waterman. So giving details of this model and its different options brings about a progressive construction of the signifying value of the Waterman: from the abstract level of its investment in a fundamental value - identity, once again - to the figurative level by way of references to different kinds of nib 5 We can represent this passage, or 'rise', from abstract to figurative, in the following way: 1.

Jigurative level The 'Gentleman' Thematic level Good taste Abstract level Identity Let us now consider the part of the advertisement made up of handwritten text: the letter written by T to his brother; the letter in which he recalls their different careers.

This letter gives the Waterman its narrative status, and allows us to understand why it is set in parallel to the photograph. Once again, we can roughly divide the. The first goes from Lorsque tu entrais [When you started] to mission scienfijique [scientific mission].

The second starts with Pour notre anniversaire [For our birthday] and ends with semblables [alike]. This first subdivision is based on a segmentation of narrative voices. My analysis focuses on one of the variations of this Waterman advertisement; variations created by the McCann agency for other Waterman models.

I should also point out that many more advertisements using the themes of the photograph and the pen have been created at an international level. A comparative analysis expanding on the results of my own analysis may therefore be possible. I refer here to the 'generative course of signification' which tries to define obiects of meaning dynamically, according to their mode of production - which is semiotic rather than technical. Indeed, 'the components involved in such a process are articulated according to a "course" running from the Simpler to the more complex, from the more abstract to the more concrete'.

See A. Greimas and j. Court"" Semiolique, diclionnaire raisonne de fa theorie du langage, vol. For a simplified and illustrated version of this concept. We will return to this 'course' later in the present chapter and also in the chapter on Opinel Chapter 6. In diagrammatic form this hierarchy of text units would look as follows: When. Amazon Then. But this may not be so. Accordingly I will now try to demonstrate how beneficial this kind of analysis can be. So let's continue with the handwritten letter and look at it in terms of a narrative analysis.

And let's now look at the content level of the advertisement rather than its overall structure. Notice that the letter ends with an emotional recognition of the similarity between the twins: et je me suis rappeli combien nous etions semblables [and I remembered how much we were alike]. But such a final situation contrasts with the initial situation in which someone called 'you' and someone who says Tare clearly distinct.

Let us therefore examine how this transformation occurs. At the start of the story [ricit], the two characters 'you' and T are the subjects of two clearly opposing narratives. First, this is because 'you' enters law school [Fac de droit] when T leaves. Furthermore, the places concemed are themselves invested with opposing values. So we could say that the law school represents what is generally called culture.

Finally, the fourth opposition: to go to law school is to have chosen one's own education and is, therefore, to begin a programme of study whose end is technical competence. Everything, then, points to the first sentence of the letter being a multiplication of the reasons for differentiating between the two twins.

It may even establish a strong opposition between them. The second sentence seems to be no more than a continuation of the same narrative. It has the same oppositional logic. Two semantic units appear and, with each of them, two specific 'isotopes' develop:6 6. Here an 'isotope' lune isotopie] is a recurrence of one or more semantic units which ensure the homogeneity of a discourse.

It is, in a way, the common denominator which progressively takes hold in tlie li-nfolding of.. If one looks at it from the point of view of reception, via the reader or the viewer, it is the homogeneous level of perception and interpretation which results from partial readings of the statements and the resolution of their ambiguity. An isotope is then a semiotic event associated with the syntagmatic dimension of discourse; with the combination of units, their co-presence as well as their directional sequence.

One of the objedives of describing a text or a pidure is the recognition of such isotopes. It is a matter of unveiling the networks of relationships which underpin the contents of the discourse under investigation. This is achieved by starting from the contextual values adopted by the various elements of the text or the pidure.

Here we can tum to the following example, used a by]. Courtes in Analyse semiotique du discours, de renond l'enonciation Paris: Hachette, In the last sentence there is a certain semantic family resemblance so to speak between the three units of 'go', 'ball' and 'horse-drawn carriage'. The particular context in which the verb 'to go' is located is such that it realizes its possible spatial aspect.


Visual Identities

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