My project will explore how advertisements use imagery to create structures of meaning for products. Advertising attaches social meaning to commodities which individuals can then identify themselves with through consumption. I will examine how advertisements manipulate shared meanings in an effort to create a product image, specifically through advertisements pertaining to Niagara Falls. I will look at how the Falls are portrayed as a tourist attraction as well as how unrelated products use the imagery of the Falls as a marketing strategy.
Products carry psychological labels with them. In this way, items that have no practical value can be marketed. Physiologically unnecessary products are consumed despite their lack of functional use. This is done by attaching subjective meaning to it, allowing the image to be consumed. The advertisements reproduce a desirable image which contains a shared public meaning. Reproducing the physical product is not comparable to reproducing its subjective overtones.
This movie poster displays the romantic overtones associated with Niagara Falls. The image of the water cascading over Marilyn Monroe uses sex appeal as a visual representation of the meaning contained within the movie. The embracing couple hovering above the water is another attempt to transcend the power of the falls.
Commercial imagery has become a dominant means through which people's images of the world are shaped. The cumulative effect is a particular view of the world and your place in it. People consume based on the meaning inherent in product imagery. The goods offer an outlet for the expression of individuality within the accepted channels that society provides. This helps create a (socially constructed) sense of self and personal fulfillment.