Image

Before I begin I should say that I completely agree with the previous post analysis of this ad that explains why this ad is so controversial and successful in utilizing a different cultural context to speak to consumers today.    However, I believe that this ad can also be considered a prime example of an advertisement that speaks to the ‘culturati’, or consumers with high cultural capital, as described in chapter 15 of Social Communication in Advertising by Leiss.  The ad employs several of the trademark strategies used in highbrow consumer magazines such as Vanity Fair, to interpellatethis attractive group of consumers who typically have high income, high education levels, and are tastemakers.

First and foremost it is clear that the ad is of a higher quality than that of others in newspapers and lowbrow consumer magazines.  This is an attempt of the advertisers to match the high quality editorial photographs included in high fashion consumer magazines.  Vanity Fair’s ability to seamlessly integrate ads in their magazine is part of what has made them so successful, it “epitomizes the integration of culture and commerce in the union of advertising and media attention (Leiss 530).”  It is clear to me that a lot of money was spend ensuring that this advertisement was made to a standard of high brow consumer magazines such as Vanity Fair.  More specifically I’m sure there was a significant amount of money that went into research and execution of a convincing 1940s street scene, style, and cultural sentiment.

Another trademark of advertisements that seek to speak to this group with higher tastes is being unconventional.  Instead of being purely informative on price and distribution this ad is high concept.  Through this nostalgic setting the advertisers are speaking to the certain cultural knowledge or capital of their audience.  They expect you to recognize that in this setting these two men are being courageous on a higher level than men acting the exact same way would be today.  In this way the emphasis is selling the product as a lifestyle or identity constructer rather than an object of pure function.    In this way objects are displayed for “serious contemplation…these object of identity and status invoke deeper contemplation than coffee filters, paper towels, and laundry detergent, and advertisers acknowledge this (534).”  Often luxury items are featured in these high brow consumer advertisements because they are believed to speak to who consumers ‘really are.’  I think glasses are a great example of this because they are something that distinguishes your look in such a dramatic way.  Many times glasses are a feature of someone’s physical appearance that is first and foremost notice and remembered because of its prominence on the face.

Lastly, we see that this ad like several appearing in the mid 1990s features homosexuality among the dominant images of heterosexual romance.  With this advertisers acknowledge the ease of sexual norms apparent at the time.  This ad however bodly and successfully speaks to sexual norms and dominant ideologies in two different eras.  In using the older time period as cultural context and comparing it to modern ideologies they have created a message exponentially more powerful than if they had a modern setting.  Typical of advertisements of magazines such as Vanity Fair the ad is selling an idea of individuality, playing on the new idea that “the object is no longer the source of esteem, rather the consumers cultural taste is celebrated (533).”  This ad specifically speaks to the idea of individuality and being able to transform commodities with your own taste and style.  Typical of advertisements directed at the ‘culturati’ this ad reminds readers of their power to continually transform (536).  The creators of this advertisement have successfully propelled their product past ‘mere image’ (550).  In writing this story along the simply words NEVER HIDE they have successfully created social and cultural value by tapping into deep emotional meaning.  With this ad Ray Ban invites high taste consumers to build their own authentic identity using their glasses as this proud homosexual man has.

It is clear through the high concept, focus on lifestyle of the brand, and deep emotional and intellectual weight of this advertisement that it is targeted at the attractive group of consumers known as the ‘culturati.’  Education, appreciation of 40s/50s style, and knowledge of borader social and political contexts are essential to understanding and appreciating this advertisement to the fullest.  Proving that Ray Ban is speaking to an extremely attractive group of consumers with disposable income, emphasis and value on style (whether it be current trends or classic ones), and desire to stand out among the masses.

Advertisements