Ray-Ban initially began with the motive of providing comfort for the eyes of soldiers & generals at war, but gradually, modified its purpose to attract a new set of audience: the younger generation. In 2007, the “Never Hide” campaign was launched to influence its consumers tremendously in various aspects – culturally, ideologically, and universally. With the message, “Never pretend. Never be afraid. Never give up. Never Hide,” Ray-Ban’s Never Hide Campaign aims to utilize several types of multimedia to encourage its consumers to be an active community and accept these products as a social construction and reflection of our lives. By doing so, the campaign turned viral while promoting a sense of natural “authenticity” & appeal to its audience. In this paper, I will begin with semiotic analysis, and then, move onto how those ads affect the ideologies of its consumers. Lastly, I will conclude the paper by exploring the different media formats used, and explain how the concept of “authenticity” has ultimately evolved to become the defining motto of Ray-Ban and an accepted ideology to its consumers today.

Since 2007, Ray-Ban has promoted the themes of naturalness and authenticity through its advertisements. Instead of casting top celebrity figures, Ray-Ban uses average people from the public to advertise a notion of genuineness and realness in their products. Advertisements carry signifiers that “act as the material vehicle of meaning” and the signified that represents its “abstract side” (Leiss, et al., 164). Semiotics allows us to understand how we are not “mere bystanders in the advertising process, but participants in creating a code that unites the designer and the reader” (Leiss, et al., 164). For example, in the “Built to Move” ad, a highly fashionable mom with a little son and daughter struts down the street on her phone while her children do their own things, such as walking the dog and running around. These three characters are in vibrant colors while others around them are in black and white and dressed up like businessmen and businesswomen. The businessmen and businesswomen are all in a rush while the mom is casually on her phone with multiple shopping bags wrapped around her arms. They wear such cheerful expressions while the ones in black and white do not look so stress-free.

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In this ad, by depicting a tremendous difference in happiness level between the two groups of people, Ray-Ban portrays the idea that we must “never hide” if we want to live happily. By comparing busy workers to a carefree family, Ray-Ban attempts to show how we are usually restricted from living the way we want to because of societal demands like money; however, we cannot live happily if we adhere to such restrictions. In this ad, the characters featured are average looking people that you can see walking down Broadway any day, which makes this advertisement even more realistic and believable for its audience. The color distinction also plays a role in presenting a message. The main characters are in bright colors while the others are in dull black & white, which symbolizes a difference in their ways of living. Black and white illustrates a traditional or “older” generation while color represents modernity. These advertisers attempt to influence its audience by showing how important it is to live young and hip with a high sense of individualism. Because advertisements do not explicitly share an obvious message with the viewers, the viewers become active participants in the process by “interpret[ing] and reintegrat[ing] the available information” with their own knowledge (Leiss, et al,. 166).

But, why do the semiotics of these ads matter to our daily lives and values? As active participants that respond to the meanings of these ads, we learn that “ads ask us to choose and construct our identities out of our consumption choices” (Goldman and Papson, 85). By seeking our identities through advertisements, ads socially construct and reflect our worlds because of the influential messages embedded within them. We learn to accept many types of ideologies, such as those of consumerism because these ads teach us about important values of our lives. For example, since the beginnings of the “Never Hide” campaign, Ray-Ban promoted the necessity to express creativity and freedom in our lives. The “Colorize” ads use special colorizing effects to emphasize the need to be bold and brave. In 2007, this advertisement introduced a new style, which interested many consumers who admit that when they wear their Ray-Bans, they always feel like they stand out. Through its vibrant color usage, Ray-Ban aims to socially construct the idea that one should be brave and assertive, like these bright color effects. “It is also true that commodity signs provide people with real social indicators of identity – after all, consumers do use signs to construct identities and to make invidious distinctions between themselves and others” (Goldman and Papson, 92). The blogger above admits that he or she feels like standing out when wearing a pair of Ray-Bans, which is exactly what the company was aiming for with this campaign – one must live differently and stand out to acquire a sense of individualism in one’s life. We find our identities through these messages that come from advertisers, which we accept as a “normative vision of our world and our relationships” (Goldman and Papson, 96).  Image

Ray-Ban utilizes another method of advertising that proves to be highly effective to create an ideology of consumerism: video advertisements. Ray-Ban has a series of video ads online that present the audience with an ideology of consumerism. More specifically, in the “Never Hide- Sneakers” advertisement, a boyfriend tries to woo his girlfriend with a pair of sneakers that she will like. He consumes so many sneakers that he has a wall full of them; however, he continuously fails to find the perfect pair, which disappoints his girlfriend. At the end, he brings out a pair of pink high-heeled sneakers. The clip ends with her being satisfied and throwing him to the ground.

In this ad, there are various ideas and themes represented. First of all, this ad hints at the importance of perseverance, which in this case, means consuming until one is satisfied. It also depicts the idea of courage by showing how one should not be afraid to win over someone’s heart, which complements the campaign’s “Never Hide” slogan. However, the most blatant ideology exists in the gender ideology presented here. The portrayals of pink high-heeled sneakers as the final winner or the girlfriend’s last action of throwing her boyfriend down with approval for a pair of shoes suggest that women now have the power to control men. This man is highly controlled by his girlfriend because he will do anything to get her what she wants; however, at the same time, the woman also seems submissive because she ultimately does surrender to him and goes to him.

Advertisers are aware of the influence of gender roles in the lives of their consumers. In this campaign, Ray-Ban attempts to show a gender hierarchy with obvious feminine gender stereotypes, but ultimately fails to do so because of the other social meanings of masculine submissiveness that is played in the video. If Ray-Ban had used this gender ideology technique like it did in the “Anti-Glare” ad, this advertisement would have been highly more effective in getting its message across. In the “Anti-Glare” ad, a woman bicyclist rides in the air while male bicyclists all stare up at her in awe. All the men are wearing neutral colors while the woman has a bright pink T-shirt on. She also has tattoos all over her arms, which represent bravery and toughness that are usually associated with men. There are symbols of personal freedom and bravery, which goes against feminine stereotypes, but is more effective in portraying Ray-Ban’s “Never Hide” message to become more individualistic and not adhere to societal restrictions.Image

Ray-Ban is also reputable for using various media texts in its campaign. The “Never Hide” campaign includes efforts to encourage guerilla marketing, outdoor marketing and consumer interactivity. First of all, the campaign embraces the “Express Yourself” slogan, which generally targets ages 18 to 25. The purpose of this campaign is to “assert their individuality by revealing their sense of personal style.”    In order to promote this idea, in 2011, the Ray-Ban team printed out paper shades and stuck them on random posters, statues and public artifacts. This guerilla marketing tactic raises brand awareness to the public, which is highly imperative to get consumers interested in buying the product. Also, a “person’s retention of the ideas associated with the visual is significantly higher than it is if the verbal information is presented alone,” which is why this type of marketing usually helps the public to remember the product better (Leiss, et al,. 231).

Outdoor marketing also plays an important role in this campaign. The Ray-Ban team also went out to take pictures of random people wearing Ray-Bans and these photos were shown on outdoor locations like on the Nasdaq and Reuters buildings in Times Square. Outdoor advertising is a successful method in reaching those who may not be glued to the computer or TV: advertisers can “cut through the clutter of electronic and print media” and reach those who are “spending more time out of home” (Leiss, et al,. 366). This strategy worked well because Times Square is one of the most populated areas in the nation, so some people from all over the world would see this ad. ImageAlso, not only did Ray-Ban use outdoor marketing as a tool, but also utilized consumer interactivity by taking pictures of the consumers to share a more “authentic” experience. This method ultimately demonstrates a realistic ambiance by portraying the main characters as average people.

Consumer interactivity is one of the company’s highest valued assets. Ray-Ban has devised several ways to keep this going, such as by designing the Ambermatic iPhone application and promoting the “Never Hide” stories. The Ambermatic iPhone application enables people to send pictures to it to receive a picture seen in the color of the Ray-Ban lens. It’s not just a photo filter because a potential customer basically gets a preview of their product. Consumers can now take an active role in the advertising process by marketing to others unconsciously as well. They can talk about this new application and encourage their friends to download it on their phones. This causes viral marketing, which contributed to the success of Ray-Ban’s advertising. This form of word-of-mouth communication proves to help the campaign because people are usually connected through external networks that can reach out to others, and so on (Andrejevic, 71).

The “Never Hide” stories also play a huge role in summoning consumers to participate. In this aspect of the campaign, consumers are invited to share their experiences of finding their purpose in life after buying a pair of Ray-Bans. This strategy promotes the idea of “staying true to your vision.”  By participating in this, people all over the world are actively promoting the product. This form of pull-marketing requires people to tune into the project themselves and become active participants of the campaign. This global project interpellates people, not only the participants but also the bystanders, of seeing the world in a positive light and identifying themselves with it (Goldman and Papson, 97).

Ultimately, all of Ray-Ban’s advertising efforts come down to the emphasis of its products as “goods [that] offer opportunities for self-expression,” which convinces its consumers that this is the authentic and genuine way to live (Leiss, et al,. 520). Ray-Ban persuades its customers to accept authenticity as an important ideology of their lives. By emphasizing the ideas of individuality, courage, difference and uniqueness, Ray-Ban shapes an identity for its consumers and advocates for the need to be “real.” With its various efforts to motivate its consumers to be different and genuine, Ray-Ban has been successful in carrying out its message for the past six years.

Works Cited Page

Andrejevic, Mark. “Productive Play 2.0: The Logic of In-Game Advertising.” (2009): 66-76. Web.

Bridget. “Ray Ban Does Realworld Instagram.” Adverblog. N.p., 18 Feb. 2013. Web. 14 May 2013.

Goldman, Robert, and Stephen Papson. “Robert Goldman and Stephen Papson “Advertising in The Age of Accelerated Meaning” (1996).” The Consumer Society Reader. Ed. Juliet Schor and Douglas B. Holt. New York, NY: New, 2000. Print.

Leiss, William, and Jackie Botterill. “Media in the Mediated Marketplace.” Social Communication in Advertising: Consumption in the Mediated Marketplace. New York: Routledge, 2005. Print.

“Ray-Ban Official Web Site – USA.” Ray-Ban.com. Ray-Ban, n.d. Web. 14 May 2013.

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