Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Beauty Product Advertisements: A Critical Discourse Analysis

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Beauty Product Advertisements: A Critical Discourse Analysis

Article excerpt


This study examined beauty advertisements in local English magazines from a Critical Discourse Analysis perspective. This study mainly focused on the use of language in beauty advertisements and strategies employed by advertisers to manipulate and influence their customers. The analysis is based on Fairclough's three-dimensional framework. It demonstrates how the ideology of 'beauty' is produced and reproduced through advertisements in popular local women's magazines. A qualitative research was conducted on beauty product advertisements in two popular local women's magazines, Cleo and Women's Weekly. The findings indicated that advertisers used various strategies to manipulate women. The advertisements promote an idealised lifestyle and manipulate readers to a certain extent into believing whatever that is advertised is indeed true. This study revealed how the ideology of beauty is constructed and reconstructed through magazines by stereotyping how beauty products are synonymous with a better life. Advertising language is used to control people's minds. Thus people in power (advertisers) use language as a means to exercise control over others.

Keywords: CDA, advertisements, power, manipulate

1. Introduction

The stiffcompetition in attracting potential customers has forced advertisers to employ vigorous advertising strategies techniques such as, construct a problem that can only be solved by using their products. Similarly, beauty product companies advertise their products to convince women. Magazines are a good example of a powerful media which regularly reach a vast number of women. The local English Language magazines are constantly flooded with beauty product advertisements. Some of them provide quite a lot of information such as, the background of the product, its effectiveness, feedback or testimonies by celebrity's or women who have used the product, price, and so on whereas some are rather short and condensed. These advertisements tend to manipulate readers to a certain extent into believing whatever that is advertised is indeed true.

The major stakeholders in advertising are the manufacturers, consumers and advertising agencies. Advertisements reach out to consumers through various media such as internet, radio, television, magazines and newspapers. In order to ensure that advertisements are able to reach the target group, advertisers need to select the right medium. For instance, if the target group is the generation Y group, then internet would be the best source as many young people today go online when purchasing products be it clothes, gadgets, books and so on. As print media such as magazines can reach both young and old alike, advertisers or manufacturers of products take opportunity to promote their product through this media. Visuals and language in the advertisements play a pertinent role to attract women. The next section will discuss on the role of language in advertising.

Cook (2001) points out that advertisements inform, persuade, remind, influence and perhaps change opinions, emotions and attitudes. In other words, his contention is that advertisements do not only sell products but change society and make people buy things they do not want or need. He also feels that advertisements do give warnings or information to people. Hence, advertisements can help create awareness, construct identities and attitude.

There are many advertisements in women's magazines that advertise beauty products influencing women and beauty has become an absolute religious imperative for women, thus pressuring them to do their best to hold their beauty (Baudrillard, 2005). The "ideal" women is stereotyped through visual and textual aspects of the advertisements. Advertisers use visual and linguistic means to persuade their audience. It is argued that "advertising is the most influential institution of socialisation in modern society" (Jhally, 1995). This scenario has brought into perspective on how people who are in control of advertisements manage to exercise their power and at the same time manipulate women's beliefs. …

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