Today's society relies on advertisement for consumer affairs. Magazines, a form of mass media is at the top of everyone's list for finding the perfect household good. Ads are a major part of our everyday life. The most common signs are words in a language, but traffic signals, punctuation, and visual markers are also signs. At a broader level, clothing, gestures and even sentences and whole texts may be signs in a larger sign system. The study of signs is known as semiotics. When trying to analyze an ad using semiotics, you must identify the first order signs (the signifier and the signified). The first order signs are individual signs. The signifier is the image, whether it is sound, visual, etc. The signified is the concept that the signifier is sending to us. What is their cultural association? Analyze the arrangement of these first order signs to create a new signifier. This would be the second order signs, what the first order signs collectively represent. The signified is a myth that the ad is trying to portray. This process helps us better understand the intentions of advertising in all types of media. .
Saussure's model shows that the signifier is the sound image (spoken word), or multiple spoken words, and the signified is the concept being portrayed by those words. For example, if someone says the word "dog" to you. Dog is the signifier. The signified would then be the image you think of (the concept) that "dog" brings to mind. Saussure's model was only used for the analysis of language, although it could now be applied to many aspects of semiotics. Barthes" semiotic theory looks for a cultural meaning of nonverbal signs such as text, sound, images, and artifacts. According to Barthes semiotics is any type of sign that can stand for something else. He created a science that investigates the nature of signs and their impact on society. Semiotics also takes a look at the laws that govern them.