Nestle 'Nuts' Advert - Link
Throughout history, corporations have been creating preconceived conceptions regarding personal identity, and using them as a means of advertisement to promote commodities to specific audiences. Identity focused advertisement usually promotes an ideology of ‘difference’ and ‘elitism’ to make consumers feel superior to others who cannot afford the similar products. Furthermore, in modern capitalist society people create a self-image through the purchase and exhibition of commodities, this ideology is perpetuated in the advertisement industry through visual campaigns that focus on promoting commodity based identity. The following passage critically analyses a piece of corporate advertisement aiming to highlight and explain how and why different methods of persuasion have been utilized.
Firstly, the image chosen to reflect the identity driven ideology promoted by the advertising industry is part of a visual campaign by corporate giants Nestle. The series of printed posters was created to promote one of their nut based chocolate bars to a male audience, using an ideology of hyper-masculinity to arrest male attention. Throughout history a gender-stereotype has outlined males as the strong, heterosexual bread winner, often seen as dominant in physical stature, heroic and unafraid of violence. Nestles visual campaign plays off this ideology, showing an image of a well-built male in swimming shorts staring into shark infested waters. It is not unusual for advertisements to utilise these historical stereotypes as;
“Often the claims are based on an essentialist version of history and of the past, where history is constructed or represented as an unchanging truth.” (Woodward, 1999, p12)
By challenging male masculinity the Nestle advertisement implies that by consuming their product the audience will fit the gender-stereotype of a powerful heterosexual male. Moreover, selling the ideas that ‘Nuts’ bars make you more of a man helps the audience to construct their identity, as consuming the product provides personal reassurance regarding their desired self-image. Once this personal image has been attained identity related thoughts move from personal reassurance to a sense of otherness, which helps people to quickly define their identity from what they are not. This sense of difference is what helps people to feel individual and comfortable with their selected identity and social group; advertisers know this and therefore use it as a means of manipulation.
“This marking of difference takes place both through the symbolic systems of representation, and through forms of social exclusion. Identity, then, is not the opposite of but depends on, difference. ” (Woodward, 1999, p29)
Differences are established through “classificatory systems” (Woodward, 1999, p29) which are created by people as a way of dividing social groups and sorting them into some sort of hierarchy. In modern capitalist society a person’s identity plays a vital role in their placement in this hierarchy, people in good shape, with lots of money and commodities are seen as successful and hence are highly regarded. Advertisements like the one by Nestle are created to sell the idea of the fearless heterosexual male, by eating that small nutty chocolate bar they can be distinguished as a hero and a man.
“Perceptions and understandings of the most material of needs are constructed through symbolic systems which mark out the sacred from the profane, clean from the unclean and the raw from the cooked.” (Woodward, 1999, p38)
To conclude, the Nestle advertisement was created to capture the attention of young men, using clever methods to promote a stereotypical hyper-masculine image of a courageous, powerful man. To attain this self-image unwitting participants simply need indulge in the product advertised, if this message is successfully communicated young males will buy into the product profiting the corperation. Identity is formed through social and material representation, people often assert judgements regarding the differences between these symbols and therefore organise people into social hierarchies. The classification systems used to organise these social groups form what we know as identity, as without the classifications we would be unable to distinguish between all forms of individuality.
- Woodward, K (ed. 1999) Identity and Difference, Sage, London.