Walking confidently with a green hot air balloon behind her, the shoes underneath reflect comfort, expansion, and flexibility. The African-American woman fully dresses in a simple blue gown and dons the luxurious white shoes. The shoes are sneakers that have wings attached to their quarters. The lady appears forthright and determined to fly with the parachute, a feeling she derives from wearing the sneakers. Correspondingly, the phrase “WE FLY SKY HIGH” at the bottom of the photo ensures that these shoes will dare you to aspire beyond your limits. Everything about these shoes communicates confidence and conviction, also shown by the way the model’s posture as she holds up the parachute with her head held high and the top of the hot air balloon held above her head and the bold “S(h)O(es) LIT” above.
The rhetorical device used is a metaphor, as the photos require an “imaginative leap” from the literal to an attitude or behaviour that the images signify. Although the ad displays “we fly sky high,” there are more subtle meanings on display. For example, the theme of confidence flows from the woman wearing the shoes and the way she holds up the hot air balloon. In this case, shoes are the signifier and confidence is the signified. More specifically, I try to use orientational metaphors, in the sense that the shoes, legs, and the hot air balloon take on the significance they do largely because of the space they occupy and how it fits in with other objects in the photo. Because the photos illustrate certain attitudes and behaviours, the advertisement aims to show that these shoes bring out such desirable feelings (confidence, energy) and results (flexibility, strength). Finally, I rely more on the connotative use of the phrase on the ad because I believe the meanings of the phrases are more implicit, representing more the confidence and strength these shoes possess. These pair of expensive shoes are so “lit,” that it can light up the “hot air balloon” behind her, and take her “sky high.” The other rhetorical devices I will like to illustrate through this advertisement are interpretive codes and social codes. Interpretive codes of gender are not only perceptual conventions but also political or ideological conventions. Women even in feminine dressing, are not easily limited. She is still capable of trying out extreme sports like the parachute. The black gown she’s wearing signifies the femininity, but the shoes she’s wearing gives her the wings and courage to break through sky limit. On the other hand, social codes of race, which social or behavioural conventions of a given culture or linguistic community is presented through my advertisement. By showing the image of a non-white woman, the intersectionality shows much more potential for a variety of woman. Cosmopolitan of whiteness is not necessarily the only option for global advertisement. High-end luxury sneakers are also embracing the idea of cultural, sexual and racial diversity.
The audience for the advert is women. The shoe advertisement is targeted at women, who are being dared to be adventurous and confident. That the shoes can uplift the women’s confidence is meant to encourage women, who value physical appearance. In fact, the shoes are so lit that she can light up the balloon and fly to the sky. Aside from physical appearance, the advert alludes to girl power and feminism, which is gaining popularity in the world. The sneakers also appear comfortable, a critical aspect that women look for when they buy shoes. The wings are an added flair and make the shoes stylish. Women love stylish shoes and would feel good when they wear the shoes. The model also appears confident to use the parachute, which is a daring sport. Forthwith, the advertisement suggests that the sneakers are suitable for outdoorsy ladies that enjoy the adrenal rush that comes from daring activities. It is evident that the shoes are also compatible with dresses, which is a staple in many ladies’ closets. The model is also youthful. Thus, the advertisement implies that the shoes are meant for young women, who desire to be trendsetters. Wearing the shoes is a testament to being forward and trendy. The advertisement targets women, who are being encouraged to buy the shoes as they will boost their confidence.
Equally, the advertisement targets the affluent of society. Retailing at $ 294.99, the shoe is a luxury that the wealthy can easily afford. Sneakers have also become a status symbol for rich people and the pair adding to their appeal among the wealthy (Hinds). The shoes appear unique, which is an element that the rich look out for when making purchases. The sneakers are also classy and distinctive, which for the opulent is critical because they seek distinction from the rest of society. Additionally, the woman is holding a parachute, which is a costly sport as the price averages $250. The advertisement is intended for the rich given the price of the shoes, their appearance, and the use of parachute in the poster.
The advertisement also has possible interpretations concerning the target audience, which cannot be controlled. The use of an African-American model may imply that the shoes target the black population. Viewers may also accuse the advertisement as being racially discriminative given that the shoes are intended for women of all races. Comparatively, the parachute use indicates adventurous activities, leading to the interpretation that the shoes are not meant for every-day wear, but for an adventure. Equally, the model has a slim and fit body. The feature may result in the advertisement receiving backlash for media and image stereotyping in which slim women are primarily used to promote products (Baylor University). It may be concluded that the shoe target fit ladies, black women and are unsuitable for normal wear, which is not the case.
The course has taught me a lot about the impact of semiotics in communication. Through the course, I have learned that it is possible for a piece of information to be interpreted variously depending on culture, gender, and overall perception. The course also taught me the power of image and words in communicating a message. Henceforth, it is imperative to convey a message as clearly as possible to avoid or minimize any likely misinterpretations. I learned to be conscious of social and cultural needs in representation. The communication should mirror the values and visions of the target audience. Admittedly, I found it difficult to understand how representation worked. My weakness included knowing how to craft a message that would not be ambiguous. I also found it challenging to combine different semiotic elements to convey a message effectively. However, from the course, I have learned that understanding the social and cultural constructs of the target audience will aid in the communication process. The course taught me the value of semiotics in communication.
Correspondingly, the knowledge was useful in designing the advertisement. Understanding representation played an integral role in designing the advertisement. I used a confident woman holding a parachute to wear the shoes because I wanted to promote women empowerment. The world is steadily accepting feminine power, which the woman exudes. Additionally, my choice for an African-American lady addressed the issue of social, racial codes and behavioural conventions. The woman breaks the advertising stereotype which favours white women to advertise luxury items. The model suggests that it is possible for women of colour and all others to afford the shoes. It also applied my understanding of words when advertising. I agree that it is crucial for the wording to correspond with the image to foster effectiveness. The parachute and design of the shoe guided me in deciding the phrases “WE FLY SKY HIGH” and “S(h)O(es) LIT.” The audience would relate the text to the shoes and be convinced that they will feel fly when they wear them. The message is also positive, which is in line with encouraging women to overcome any obstacles in their lives and reach for the sky. The course equipped me with the skills I used to complete the advertisement.
Hinds, Rebecca. “What Your Shoes Really Say About Your Personality, According to Science.” Inc. Magazine, 2017, https://www.inc.com/rebecca-hinds/want-to-read-your-coworkers-personalities-look-at-their-shoes-science-says.html
Baylor University. “Advertising: Most people feel alienated when viewing ultra-thin models.” ScienceDaily, 21 May 2015, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150521120930.htm