Media Theory

Print advertisements are everywhere around us. Whenever we read a newspaper or a magazine, or go outside and see a billboard, print ads are obvious and unavoidable. Analyzing the ad to discover its true meaning is important to understand its intended impact and intention.

Here are some things to look for when analyzing a print advertisement.

1. What does the text say? The text was carefully crafted to create a consistent message about the ad. If there is a headline, how does it grab our attention? What does the main text tell us about the product or service? Does it directly reference the product or service's benefits and factual attributes? Or does the ad prefer to sell the reader on the product's lifestyle benefits instead (telling you how cool you'll be when using the product, for example)? How does the text relate to the images? 

2. What does the image say? Pictures are worth a thousand words, and this is very true for print advertisements. How does the photograph grab our attention? Is the picture depicting the product by itself, or being used by someone? Does the photograph show us a lifestyle associated with the product (essentially telling us how the product would make our life better)? How do the images relate to the text? 

3. Who is the magazine/newspaper/billboard's target market? Would someone from a different demographic (someone of a different gender, someone older or younger than you, someone who made more or less money than you, someone with different political values, someone of a different race) interpret the text and imagery differently? What values does the ad contain (is it young, hip, mature, playful, exciting)?

Some fascinating print ads from the past.

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Media Literacy is a critical skill students must learn to succeed in today's tech-driven, media-saturated society. This book helps students understand media literacy, and how to implement and share that knowledge with others. As an experienced media literacy expert and professor, Nick Pernisco provides a well-researched guide for learning this important critical thinking skill and using it in everyday life. This is a must-read for anyone interested in learning how to interpret the enormous amounts of information we are exposed to every day, both in traditional media and online. Buy it now!