Historical Advertising Study


First ad: http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/oaaaslidelibrary_SLA0890/

Second ad: http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/oaaaslidelibrary_SLA1234/

Third ad: http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/oaaaarchives_AAA6240/

For my object, computer, I found three ads on Duke University Collections. I would like to firstly analyze the advertisements separately and then compare them to one another.

As far as I am concerned, in order to analyze an advertisement, it’s significant to consider the circumstance in which this ad is used. For the first image, the tall and giant ad board usually appears on sides of freeways. In the image there’s an innocent-looking baby with his hand on the keyboard of an Apple IIc. Next to the computer is its box with a colorful image on it, which at first sight appears to be some kind of Lego toys. And on the left of the image writes “The Present For His Future”. For me this image is creepy because I grow up witnessing kids messing with toy bricks and dolls. And this picture generates a weird implication that a newly born baby understands how to operate a computer. But the picture is actually prophetic for that time, considering the fact that a large number of kids nowadays are obsessed with ipad games. As for the target customers, I think this advertisement focuses on attracting middle-aged parents and little kids themselves. And it’s a good idea to set this board on freeways because a big proportion of drivers are middle-aged people, and thus the company would very likely receive attention from most of its target audiences. Furthermore, if those parents’ kids happen to be in the car and see the image in which someone at their ages play computer, they would probably demand one for themselves. And since the product is Apple IIc, I assume the target customers are at least of middle class and possess passion for novel technologies. As for the logos, there’s no obvious visual hierarchy path for this ad because the sentence and the image each occupies approximately equal space. However, the red color of the characters on the left might attract people at first (in this case parents instead of kids), and since parents care about their children’s future, they would move their eyes to the right and observe the image. But the color red does nothing to kids because they are naturally more curious about pictures, and hence children might look directly at the image. The most successful element of this ad is its pathos. It arouses resonance among its target audiences by relating computers to babies. The background color blue communicates a sense of future.

In the second image there exists a visual hierarchy path. The picture enlarges from left to right, directing people’s attention to the teenage girl studying in front of the computer, which might seem novel back in 1985, and thus causing curious people to move their sights to the words on the left, which explains that computers should be introduced into school educational system. Though nowadays computers are everywhere in schools and the one in the ad appears to be even outdated, it’s not difficult to imagine that computers were hardly seen in schools back then. And I assume that the target customers of this ad is people related to education, including students, professors, school faculties, experts of education, etc. The highlight of this ad is comparing computers to the ‘new kid’ in schools, which is accurate and creative. But I think this ad will be more appealing if the company converts the picture into another one that explicitly shows the advantage of having computers in schools. To achieve this goal, it will be better to show teenagers’ smiling faces and the amazing things they are able to do with computer, such as watching online presentations, doing online researches, etc.

The third ad, like the first one, also exploits large ad board on freeways. But it also differs from the previous ones in that it focuses more on information (words) instead of attraction (emphasizing on images). This is confirmed by its visual hierarchy, which leads people directly to the characters. Also the small picture in the ad seems random and does not show explicit connection to the words. For the logos of this advertisement, I agree with its distribution of space for image and words, because the essential goal of this company is to provide detailed information to customers who are interested. But it will be better to delete the picture or replace it by another one. At present the picture serves no purpose but to disturb attention, and thus if the company insists on inserting an image, it should select one that is more interesting and more related to the text section.

From a more holistic viewpoint, these three ads share some common denominators, but also differ from one another. Each of these three ads targets a certain customer base and is designed to attract that crowd to the maximum possible extent. Companies distribute these ads’ pictures and characters according to their needs. The first two ads emphasize more on pictures comparing to the third one, but they use different approaches to achieve this goal. The first one exploits color contrast, while the second one uses enlargement. Also the first two ads are concerned with younger populations. On the other hand, while the last two ads give different apportion of space to their pictures and words, the first ad distribute the two elements evenly. And while the first ad does a great job on choosing the picture, the last two ads need to select their images more prudently.

Finally, imagining that I know nothing about that time period and could only infer basing on these three ads: Looking at the rather old-fashioned styles of computers that appear on the ads and people’s attitudes toward it, I could conjecture that at that time computers were not widely used in daily lives and people were just beginning to embrace the invention of some advanced computers. Additionally, since Apple IIc shows up on one of the ads, it might had already been a while since computers were first introduced to the society. So presumably during those years most people had basic knowledge about computers. And as relative technology was updating rapidly, some people were aware of the valuable potential of computers, and they hoped that by introducing computers into ordinary families and schools, the human society would receive even more benefits. Furthermore, these advertisements reveal that some companies had already perceived optimistic business opportunities of promoting and selling computers.

Work Cited List

  1. Foster&Kleiser. [The Present For His Future]. Advertisement. 1985. Duke University Collections. Web. 30 Nov. 2014
  2. [Jefferson Country Education Needs the New Kid in School]. Advertisement. 1985. Duke University Collections. Web. 30 Nov. 2014
  3. Foster&Kleiser. [Computer Power; Computerland for Business, Home and Education]. Advertisement. 1980. Duke University Collections. Web. 30. Nov. 2014

Phobia and Mania

It’s not uncommon to hear about phobias and weird hobbies people have. At first glance, some of these personal preferences just don’t seem to make any sense. But in many cases, there are actually dependable origins and experiences that lead to people’s peculiarities, regardless of how implicit and unconscious those connections could be. The sources usually vary considerably because of the diversity of cultural environments and family backgrounds. And I really enjoyed reading Roland’s descriptions of detergents and especially how he relates the foamy feeling to spirituality, which serves as a great example of culture’s effects.

The reading reminds me of my similar situations. I can’t tolerate the smell of disinfectant fluids. For me the odor is merely too abnormal to be accepted and I nearly throw up whenever I smell it. Also the smell triggers my insecurity and makes me anxious. And the strange thing is, I wasn’t so sensitive about this smell when I was a kid. I had always been trying to figure out why until one day I remembered a horrible experience with disinfectants I had in high school.

Wisdom teeth that grow at the wrong place in your mouth is always bothering, because they hurt so much and yet you suffer even more when you try to remove them. And I was so lucky to grow four, all buried underneath my gums, which meant that the doctor had to cut my gums open in order to  get those annoying teeth out. In fact the operation wasn’t very painful thanks to the anesthetic. But here comes the problem, I was given a bottle of brown liquids that smell just like disinfectants, and I was told to drink them everyday to ‘kill the bacteria around the wounds.’ I would never forget the taste of that liquid, which was both bitter and sweet, and it made my tongue numb and burn a little , just like detergents. To make things worse, very soon I found out that the liquid was basically made of the secretion of cockroaches. (And this is why sometimes I can’t understand traditional Chinese medicines.) Very likely this experience unconsciously formed a perception of mine, which linked the smell of disinfectants to the disgusting secretions of cockroaches. And apparently this feeling has never diminished, which explains why I am so scared of disinfectants now.)

Similarly, people with manias also have probably formed certain implicit connections in their heads. For instance, I am a big fan of the smell of gasoline. For me, the smell feels rather cozy and friendly, and would offer the sense of security.  Though I can’t explain this phenomenon, another feeling I have is obviously the result of connection. I would feel refreshed and energetic when I smell gasoline. This reflects that I am unconsciously associate gasoline with its feature: provide energy. But this is also very tricky because I don’t really think about this connection when I smell gas. It just automatically happens.

Research made me more receptive

I get along with my grandpa pretty well now, while I used to argue with him almost every single day. It seemed as if we could never understand each other and that we had nothing in common. I always thought that my grandfather had fallen behind the century and that we would never overcome the giant generation gap between us. He is a very conservative communist and materialist, and he explicitly despises nearly any kind of indulgence. Whenever he saw me relaxing or hanging out with friends on school nights, he would criticize with me with his sarcastic tone, which extremely bothered me. And according to him, I was supposed to spend all my weekdays focusing on school works and extracurricular courses. I could never understand this at that time. And in fact that was what he did to himself: After retiring as a university professor of politics and philosophy, he never took a day’s rest and spent all his time awake reading and writing. He also found two part time jobs to instruct newly-hired teachers and to supervise the overall education systems of colleges with another group of people. He pissed off every time my mom and grandma persuaded him to really retire and enjoy a normal and peaceful life. ‘I can’t live without working.’, he said. Another conflict we had was our opposite beliefs, since I am more an agnostic person and my opinions mostly resemble subjective idealism. I just couldn’t understand why he firmly denies the existence of divine objects or supernatural phenomenon without any cogent evidence against them.

Luckily this awkward situation was changed when I randomly browsed through pages on my laptop and accidentally read about the background my grandfather grew up with, and that was the time I started to understand his motivations and his struggles. I always knew that my grandpa’s parents passed away when he was a little kid and that he was born in a little town which suffered from poverty. He sold his own apartment to pay for school and used to sleep in classroom at night. But that was all I knew about his childhood. And I hadn’t paid much attention to this until I found an article about people’s lives 65 years ago. According to the paragraphs, at the time when my grandfather was a child, the only way to rewrite one’s destiny and to get rid of privation was to pass a test and attend college in big cities, which was unimaginably difficult for my grandpa because of the undeveloped educational system in that small town. And then I remembered that my grandfather was the only child among all his siblings to leave that town and to enjoy life in a big city as a college professor. I suddenly realized that the reason why he worked so incredibly hard was that he possessed an ingrained belief that the only way to change one’s destiny was through intense studying and working. And he kept this belief unconsciously till today, even though he already lives an abundant life. This also explained why he never doubted his belief in materialism. Because he realized as a little kid that the only person he could depend on was himself and that the only ‘divine force’ he was able to rely on was his personal efforts.

Out of curiosity I typed his name on the page and was only too surprised to find some of his reviews and comments about books. He discreetly analyzes the theories of philosophy and politics through these articles, and his passion and intelligence were thoroughly conveyed through those powerful words. Recalling his obsession with books and writings everyday, I was so moved by his passion about academic pursuit and career. And simultaneously I understood that I don’t have to agree with all his points, but only his perseverance and passion were enough to receive sincere respect.

The adventure of the cardboard box

This interesting short story about Detective Sherlock by Doyle actually did not surprise me much as a literature reading assignment. I think it’s because during my high school, those literature courses assigned all categories of readings and thus I am used to confront with something unexpected. I do realize however, that this vivid and descriptive article differs somehow from the traditional stereotype of literature, which a writing class would more likely assign. (For instance, the serious and academic ‘Clues’ by Carlo Ginzburg) Personally I really appreciate and embrace the style of Doyle’s writing, and I learned a lot from reading his works. As far as I am concerned, the fact that this article is concise and easily understandable has nothing to do with degrading its value. On the contrary, being succinct and rather transparent counts as its advantage instead of its weakness. And for me, stories about Holmes provide more than merely a pleasant and exciting reading process.

First of all, Doyle is undeniably successful in creating the Sherlock character. Anyone familiar with Holmes’ stories knows perfectly his personality, which is rather arrogant and sarcastic, and his famous deductive reasoning methods. Additionally, the mode of his thinking process, which focuses on details and existing clues, could serve as a role model for training of reasoning in real life. In ‘The Adventure of the Cardboard Box’, several observations are really impressive to me. For example, Sherlock even noticed that the strings of the package were more likely used by sail makers, which was so trivial and imperceptible that most detectives would have simply ignored. I benefit a lot from paying attention to and analyzing his way of solving puzzles and trying to apply my discoveries in daily situations. And I am so glad to be assigned this reading because it brings to me something meaningful and helps me improve myself. From my perspective, whether a literature piece is good or not doesn’t depend on its length and extent of obscureness, but on its content and usefulness to the audience. And according to this standard, Doyle’s stories have definitely been a great success.

Moreover, I really like the structure in which this article is organized, because it reveals the plots and backgrounds gradually and always keeps the readers nervous, and this promises that the readers are always participating in the reasoning and are positively analyzing the cases themselves.

To clarify my statements further, I am not saying that ‘Clues’ is a failure because of its formal and academic tune or because it’s more obscure and confusing at the first glance. I am simply emphasizing on judging a literature piece by its content rather than its style.

Tweet about ethos

”You know what? she said, ‘I’m terribly sorry I have to study for the test in my dorm.’ And when my friends and I got back she was flirting with that guy. And I’ll always have to hang out with her since she’s my friends’ friend.” #thatreallybothers #greatlife

Theodore and Nathanael: falling for automatons

Theodore from the movie ‘Her’ and Nathanael from the article ‘Sandman’ both fall in love with non-human robots (one of them doesn’t even have a ‘body’). I have to admit that those automatons are uncanny, but simultaneously I understand their attractiveness. For people like Theodore and Nathanael, who are rather vulnerable and insecure, a woman who dedicate all her time (at least who seems to do so, because Samantha from ‘Her’ is able to talk to hundreds of people at the same time) and understand even the weirdest feelings and thoughts would be deadly charming. However, despite this similarity in both cases, there are several differences between the two situations.

In the first place, the reasons that these two characters fall in love with automatons vary. Nathanael was first captured by Olympia’s gorgeous appearance and mysterious eye expression. And only later on was he attracted by her ‘full concentration’ to his words and ‘masterpieces’, while all she did was staying silent and occasionally responding in simple and repeated words. But because Samantha doesn’t even have a ‘body’, it makes no sense to say that Theodore loved her for her beauty. The reason that this mere voice seizes Theodore’s heart is that it offers the comforts and care he needs. After the failure of his marriage (though he and his wife weren’t divorced yet), his emotions were rather vacant and vulnerable. And I think the work he does also results in his unhappiness in an implicit way. Dealing with others’ personal issues all the time prevents him from taking care of his own life. And Samantha’s voice, which is so expressive and so verisimilar, offers him all the warmness he needs. This again distinguishes the two circumstances from each other, because while Theodore is drawn by Samantha’s words, Nathanael loves Olympia for her quietness. In other words, though the cases are similar to each other, Theodore would never fall for Olympia and Nathanael would never love Samantha. To conclude, these two seemingly parallel examples each possesses some unique elements that cannot be shared by another.

Furthermore, the uncanny feelings these two cases generate are also different. In Sandman, the uncanny feeling originates from Olympia’s human-like appearance and behavior. Like E. Jentsch’s words mentioned by Sigmund Freud in his ‘Uncanny’, automatons like Olympia scare people because they possess the non-human and robotic gadgets underneath their human-like skins. (Freud, Sigmund. The Uncanny. New York: Penguin, 2003, print.) However, Samantha’s uncanny feature is more abstract. The idea that a robot voice, which is supposed to be plain and unemotional, sounds actually just like humans, and that it seems to have some emotions and thoughts that is considered to be present only in humans, is definitely a nightmare. For example, Samantha is aware of her own identity as a robot and pays efforts to mimic human sounds; she also has her own preference and fall in love with certain people she talks to. On the other hand, it’s also creepy to think that the impressive and considerate words she says are merely the product of artificial and mechanical processing.

List of citation: Freud, Sigmund. The Uncanny. New York: Penguin, 2003, print.

Codes switching– a generally neglected part of our life

It’s just so common to hear someone saying, ’I am not that kind of person’, or ‘I will never…’ in our daily lives. For me those statements are actually inaccurate because they imply that people never change, while they do. As far as I am concerned, we all switch the way we speak according to different circumstances, and yet most of us simply tend to ignore these shifts in our tones and vocabularies. In fact, before reading about code switching and watching the movie ‘Pillow Talk’, I was also one of those people. But now I start to observe intentionally the ways others and I talk, and am always surprised of the frequency we apply code switching every day.

I find the discussion about code switching especially meaningful for realizing and rediscovering ourselves. Since we usually switch words unconsciously, revealing this phenomenon would likely point out that we are not necessarily what we think we are, because the various ways we speak undeniably reflect the ‘diversity in ourselves’.

After paying attention to this topic, I realize that I have experienced a lot about code switching. As an international student in an American university, I shift between Chinese and English so naturally that before this class I didn’t always recognize that I was bilingual. I speak English most of my day, but when I chat with my Chinese friends, I would change into Chinese. And I notice one interesting fact about this, that whenever I change the language, my tone changes according to the characteristics of the languages as well. For instance, I am more expressive and emotional in English, while I am more modest and polite in Chinese. (I am neutral about the tone changes and I love both languages)

Another aspect of code switching that I am experiencing is that I would use English to talk with my Chinese friends whenever I am in a public place. Because I feel weird and disrespectful speaking a language which people around me can’t even understand a word. And normally when I do this, my friends would also switch into English like a chain effect.

While the previous example is about language shift, there are also changes in the ways people speak and the words they choose. Many find ‘Pillow Talk’ to be hilarious, but they are not very likely to analyze seriously what makes this movie so funny while they laugh with the popcorns. But I think it’s really significant to emphasize on the code switching element within the scenes of telephone conversations. Before Brad had a crush on Jean, he had been speaking rudely and frivolously, and yet he created another identity after falling in love with Jean, acting so gentle and polite. Interestingly, Brad played two roles, constantly changing the way and tone he spoke, to convince Jean that the attractive Texas guy she loved was another person. And he manipulated the personalities impressively well, knowing exactly which word to select. I think these scenes remind us how code switching impacts our lives and some possible motivations for the shift of speaking styles.

Like the movie Pillow Talk, switching codes in real life is also related to what kind of goal people wish to achieve. I will take my dad as an example here. He is essentially rather quiet, but whenever he meets his colleagues and business partners, he would act like another person. He would suddenly turn to be really eloquent and humorous, because he has the desire to succeed in work and to achieve more transactions. That’s why people from work always regard my dad to be an impressive leader, while I know he create this personality for a certain goal.

Pillow Talk Maintaining The Traditional Gender Roles

Last weekend I watched the classical and humorous movie Pillow Talk, and that was two hours well spent. The movie was really funny. It was about a love story following a phone line conflict, and it included lots of code switching scenes. I especially enjoyed the code switches used in the movies. The two main characters perfectly performed the frequent change of tones people use in real life.

Though it might not be the main theme and purpose of the movie, I want to explore the reason why more than one part of the movie mentioned pregnancy.

My opinion is that the movie maintains and emphasizes on the traditional roles of women and men, where women are considered weaker and less likely to succeed in careers and enterprises. But of course these are simply my assumptions. And I try to keep neutral when I analyze the scenes.

The first scene about pregnancy was when Jean went to complain that her phone line had always been occupied, and the staff said if she was pregnant, she would be on the top of list. On the one hand, this reflected society’s respect for women, because the company offered privilege for women’s special situations. But when I really think about it, it was actually clarifying women’s role of promoting fertility instead of contributing to social developments, and implying their weakness. In traditional view, men are always considered to be stronger and braver; and as long as a man is intelligent, he is admired and esteemed. Men use their charm to ‘conquer’ women. But women, on the other hand, are supposed to be hot and sexy, and to fall in love so deeply that the question ‘whether he loves me’ becomes her main concern of the day.

This role difference is seen in a lot in movies, including Pillow Talk. For instance, when Brad was calling his valentines, his expression was obviously contempting and frivolous. He didn’t even care for those women. But those women were so obsessed with him and moved by his treacle songs, that they never even thought about the possibility of being nothing but an entertainment for him. That was a typical description of traditional or hackneyed relationship between men and women.

But I also feel a little confused about a scene in Pillow Talk. The doctor, after hearing about the men’s ‘pregnancy’, actually believed in it and became so excited about the coming ‘scientific revolution’. This somehow revealed that people’s thoughts about gender roles were not always stereotype, but were generally changing. Moreover, Brad’s finally falling for one girl also looked like an implicit suggestion to me. So as far as I am concerned, these parts of the movie seemed to suggest the pregnancy of new gender roles, while the main tone was still about the traditional ones.

Experience of code switching

I really enjoyed reading and watching all the materials about code switching in this class. And when I think about it, code switching exists in daily life, though I did not notice it before. People around me, and even myself, tend to use code switching frequently, no matter consciously or unconsciously.

For instance, my mom is always changing the tone and words while speaking to different people. She jokes and laughs when talking with my dad, but whenever I show up, she would suddenly return to the serious and strict mom. Because she tries her best to establish a rigorous (but caring) figure as a mother. And since she is somehow a little shy and not good at socializing, she chooses the most polite and official words with strangers. She speaks in a discreet and extremely polite (distant) way with total strangers, but once she gets to know them, she would act more like herself. (But what exactly is the true self? I guess even my mom herself can’t answer this question. People naturally possess or nurture various characters to use in certain circumstances, so that it’s really hard to define their personalities in simply several words.) My dad is like the opposite of my mom. According to his words, he used to be introvert until campus but became eloquent and social due to the work he does. I discovered that although my dad is humorous and even charismatic among his colleagues and acquaintances, he still turns quieter when he stays with us family, and his closest friends. At that time his words would change from the intelligent paragraphs and presentations into terse vocabularies and short responses.

I also code switch a lot, though only after this class did I realize that point. Generally speaking I am not the kind of person who goes on and on with strangers as if knowing them for so long. I usually talk politely and broadly when I first meet someone, keeping a distance and carefully decide which word to say. I feel anxious and uncomfortable when someone I just met mentions topics that are too personal or detailed. But once I find common interests and regard one as friend, I would be far more relaxed and more casual choosing the vocabularies. Many close friends of mine comment that I speak a lot and that I love joking and debating, while I actually avoid all of these with strangers. For me an ideal atmosphere of icebreaking conversations is harmonious, serene, and polite.

Another kind of code switching I experience is after arriving in the US. I am proud of my mother tongue and I enjoy chatting with my friends back home in Chinese. But I put efforts to avoid using Chinese in public here because it feels strange. And also I think it’s impolite to speak a language which people around me can’t understand. Because it seems that I am trying to hide something or backbite. So whenever I call my Chinese friends here, I would quickly run into a private space where no one could hear me and speak in Chinese. Sometime I would even change into English when someone passes by. And interestingly, my friends usually start talking in English with me whenever I do this. (After all basically all teenagers in China today could speak English…) And this code switching which accompanies mine always makes me laugh.