Friday, 22 February 2013

Images in advertisements - A re-reading



This is an age of re reading. Everything is reread now. Traditions, values, myths, scriptures, literary and artistic works, cinemas and all are going through a process of re reading. Re reading is an intellectual activity. Re reading brings forth fresh ideas and invites us to look on conventional beliefs in a new way. It is like a torch that flashes light on an area that existed but was not high lightened. The exponents of re-reading asks many questions to the age old accepted beliefs.

Thus the drama, Othello, of the famous English dramatist Shakespeare is re read to find the racial prejudice of the writer against the marriage of the black hero Othello and the white lady Desdemona. Either Shakespeare could not suffer them to enjoy their marriage bed for a day or the writer was afraid of the white society. Was Desdemona punished for neglecting the proposals from many white young men of the town and marrying a black man? The exponents of re reading affirm a foul play by the white dramatist.

This process is the intellectual mood of the age. So whether they are consciously doing it or not, people are re reading into conventional images.
Those who work in advertisement field are to take care of this change of attitude of the people. Otherwise the images presented in advertisements may create an unintentional impression.

There was a famous poet who wrote in my mother tongue. His name is Kumaranasan. He is often equated with the English Romantic poet P.B. Shelly. One of his famous poems is Veenappove (meaning: the fallen flower). The theme is the impermanency of earthly beauty. He was writing about a red rose that was in all its glory in the morning, but has fallen on earth by the evening.

We all consider Red Rose as a symbol of pure, truthful love and care. Young lovers in college campus used to present Red Rose to their lady love as a token of love. Red is passion. Red Rose is passionate love. This is a conventional image used by literary writers and artists since ages as a symbol of love. “O my Luve's like a red, red rose” is a famous line by the Scottish poet Robert Burns.
But does the intellectual mood of these days accept the conventional interpretation. The Rose is red and fresh in the morning. It is the red heart of the lover. But all roses are subjected to decay. It fades and withers by evening.
Is the love represented by the Red Rose look fresh in the morning and fades and withers in the evening? Is that an acceptable love? Does the lady accept it or reject it?
Jokingly we used to say in our college that a boy’s love for a girl should last at least for a semester.

The luster of red rose has dimmed. A simple red rose may leave a different impression on the viewers. 

So in advertisements, it is better to use total images. Look at the images of vineyard or eagle used in the Bible. Go to its details. You will be amazed digging up fresh meaning that throws more favorable light on the conventional meanings.
Total images are not self contradictory in details.

I agree that red rose is well known as a symbol of love among the people. People may accept the conventional meaning.
But you are not the only advertising firm in your area. The other advertising firm can drive the intellectual mood of the people to the impermanence of the flower.
And the whole money spent for your advertisement is lost.

Total pictures are a rare species. It is difficult to examine all revealed and hidden implications. Accepted conventions are the best.
But how can we overcome the intellectual mood of re reading.

Let us go back to the red rose. The Red Rose fades and withers only in the evening. None so far has come up linking the idea of impermanence with the morning fresh red rose.
Instead of presenting a ‘red rose’, try to present a ‘morning fresh red rose’.
The age old image of Sun has a problem of ‘rise and set’; ‘resurrection and death’. But the ‘morning Sun’ is always birth/resurrection/energy etc. The ‘noon Sun’ is energetic youth. The ‘evening sun’ is a fulfilled life.

Next time, before you add an image in your advertisement, subject the image to re-reading.
Use total pictures in advertisements.
The intellectual mood of the people has changed.

Professor Jacob Abraham

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