Magazine article Marketing

OPINION: Freelander's Use of Masai Tribe Creates the Wrong Impression

Magazine article Marketing

OPINION: Freelander's Use of Masai Tribe Creates the Wrong Impression

Article excerpt

Semiotics is the study of signs and as we are directly involved in the business of creating and communicating signs, a semiotic analysis can shed light on the troubling experience I had this week while walking through Waterloo station.

There is an arresting new outdoor ad for the Land Rover Freelander Masai.

The poster ad is actually a sign and like every sign it consists of two halves: a signifier (the thing being represented) and a signified (the thing being communicated).

In this case the signifier is a photograph of men and women from an African tribe, and their children, standing in a line. The corresponding signified meaning of this photograph is that these are people from a Masai tribe in Africa. With both signifier and signified identified, we can now understand the relationship between the two - the denotation. The poster ad denotes members of the Masai tribe.

But advertisements are complex signs. They rarely end with simple denotation.

To understand them we must understand a second level of significance known as connotation. The purpose of the first sign is to become part of a bigger, more subtle sign: the Masai must be linked in some way to Land Rover.

A second glance reveals that the tribe is actually standing in the shape of a Freelander. The apparently natural line-up, the presence of shields, even the position of the small child on the end, are an attempt to link the Masai and the Freelander within the same signifier. …

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