The poster calling for men to join the navy by Richard Babcock shows a young man in sailor uniform astride a torpedo in the sea, the waves either side indicating some speed. The bold typeface in red is a strong call to join the navy. Beneath that the bold blue typography is in two sizes emphasizing that the navy is for “fighting men” .
Given that this was created in 1917 it is unlikely that the artist intended the torpedo to appear as such an obvious phallic symbol. The way the sailor is holding on to it and the posture of one arm raised suggests that he is riding a bucking bronco. I imagine this was the artist’s intention and would appeal to a young man’s fantasy of being tough and masculine in 1917 – a fighting man. The obvious excitement and pleasure in the sailor’s face would offer the idea that being in the navy would be exhilarating.
Looking at these two adverts for Pepsi, I find them really amusing and therefore eye catching.
In the first image the sense is of a feminine scene with the soft pink background. On the lower right side of the image there are three small stylised butterflies, one white and two pink. This contributes to the fresh and light mood and suggests flowers.
My interpretation is that the woman is getting ready to go out and is spraying a mist of perfume onto her neck, Except that it isn’t perfume it is Pepsi. I really like the idea of this very light and cool spray. The typography is elegant with the word “NEW” in white so that it stands out. Bizarrely, underneath the text that tells us what the product is, there is more text saying the it is a “sexy drink” . Where I was amused by this advert, when I asked a friend to comment he said he thought it was stupid and asked what the connection could possibly be between a soft drink and perfume. I originally saw this advert on the internet and wonder if it is for a different cultural audience, perhaps.
The clean bathroom image, shiny bin, tidy towel and with the impossibly narrow mirror signifies a clean, healthy thin person looking in the mirror. The connotation is that if you drink Pepsi Light you will lose so much weight that you will only need this very narrow mirror. There is no text in this advert, just a can of Pepsi on a white background, bottom right of the image. The brand itself is already so well known that the advert is merely reinforcing. In reality soft drinks do not make anyone lose weight, but the connotation is very powerful. I like the creativity in both of these adverts and the simplicity and freshness appeal to me, possibly reflecting my own values. I am attracted to connotations that are not overtly sexual and are possibly ” stupid” in someone else’s eyes!
Reflecting on all three of these adverts, it seems that connotations are something of a conspiracy into which the target audience willingly enters. We know that it will be hard work and extremely dangerous to be in the navy in 1917. Young men at that time will have known that war was a great risk to their lives, and yet the advert will have appealed to their masculinity and pride, In a similar way the Pepsi adverts are appealing to the myth that some things will make you slim and that other people will see that you are looking after your figure and therefore admire you.
Here are a couple of powerful archetypes – the strong fearless man going to war, and the always clean and fresh and sweet smelling woman at home, watching her waistline in order to remain attractive to the man of her dreams.