A SEMIOTIC ANALYSIS OF AN ADVERTISEMENT.
A logical place to start may be to ask "What is semiotics?" Semiotics is the scientific study of signs and the way in which these signs construct and reconstruct meaning. A sign can be simultaneously iconic, indexical and symbolic. When a sign is iconic it is a very good representation of the signified meaning, for example, a photo or a painting. If there is some relationship between the meaning and what is being signified, it is known as an index (indexical), for example, smoke is an index of fire. A symbol is where there is no relationship between sign and meaning, (written language is symbolic).
Saussure composes a sign into two elements, a "signifier" and the "signified". The signifier is the image that we see, for example a painting. The signified is the mental concept, which is conjured up in the mind of the receiver when they engage with the signifier (the painting). .
"A rose is a symbol of love or passion not because a rose looks like love or passion or even because the flower causes it. It is just that members of some cultures have over the years used the rose in certain circumstances to mean love." .
(Gillian Dyer, 1982).
As quoted on the previous page by Gillian Dyer, you can see that messages that are passed through from a sign can have different meanings to different people, as they relate to the cultural understandings of the person who is receiving the message. Therefore you cannot determine how an individual reader might interpret the representations of a sign.
Within this essay, I shall undertake a semiotic analysis of an advertisement. But before I focus on this analysis, I will concentrate on semiotic elements, denotation/connotation and anchoring.
When Roland Barthes wrote 'Elements of Semiology' he posed two orders of signification "denotation" and "connotation", which enable people to gain meaning from what, they see.