Barthes Semiotic Theory And Advertising Essay

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Barthes Semiotic Theory and Advertising You open the front door and step outside. The cold air fills your lungs as you begin the trek to the nearest coffee shop. Zipping up your coat, you pass by a multitude of advertisements and billboards. Too cold to pay attention, you continue walking until you reach your destination. Relieved to be in warmth once more, you settle down at a table as you take your first sip of coffee and scan the local newspaper. Without even noticing, on a leisurely stroll to the nearest coffee shop we are subject to an abundance of photographic messages. Whether it be present on a billboard, newspaper, magazine, television or even a car or buss, we are bound into an endless world of photographic meaning. Regardless of whether the images capture our attention intentionally or remain inconspicuous, the message has already been transmitted and meaning has been created. Barthes’ (1977) “The Photographic Message” examines the roles of denotation and connotation and explains the relationship between text and image. This essay will first explain Barthes’ theory using the concepts of denotation and connotation and then understand the semiotic theory of “The Photographic Message” and how it can be applied to advertisements to further deconstruct connoted meaning. Finally, a critique of Barthes’ theory is necessary in order to assess both its various strengths and weaknesses. Explaining Barthes’ Semiotic Theory-"The Photographic Message" Roland Barthes’ semiotic theory looks at how structured systems of signs (in this case advertisements) function as social phenomena. At the heart of his theory, Barthes considers how such signs constitute culture and ideologies in different ways. In Barthes’ study we learn that images consist of two different messages; denoted and connoted. The direct or literal representation of the meaning of a sign is known

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