RR2: Differenciation

Judith Williamson discussed that a sign can neither be the thing nor the meaning alone, but the two together can be used in the ad. I found it very interesting how Williamson talked about how advertisements create links between something.

She gives an example of Catherine Deneuve, who is a famous french actress and film star who did an ad for the Chanel No.5 perfume. In the Ad, a portrait of Catherine’s face is used and is placed next to the  bottle of Chanel No.5 perfume. Williamson argues that in order to successfully decode the ad, the reader must be familiar with Catherine Deneuve and recognize the fact that she is part of a system of signs that marks her different from other stars. By using Catherine’s Deneuve in this Ad, the viewer is then invited to make the connection between the Actress (who is sophisticated and elegant)  and the perfume. The ad refers back to the system of which the sign is Catherine’s face.

I agree with Judith’s argument because without using a well known person or celebrity to associate with the ad, it would be meaningless. If the viewer does not already have notions in their heads then advertising would not be effective.

She then contrasts the Chanel No.5 Ad with the Babe Ad, where in the Babe Ad, there is a full body image of Margaux Hemingway dressed in a martial arts outfit positioned with a karate kick. In each advertisement, they chose to represent the product with a female celebrity. Judith Williamson points out that it is the difference between the two female celebrities that marks the contrast that the advertisers are trying to create between the two similar products.  Catherine represents beauty, sophistication and glamor, whereas Margaux represents youth, agility and adventure, which is what we associate the brands and differentiate them with.

Therefore, I must agree advertisements creates the meaning of a brand or product through a system of signs and not just the person, but what that celebrity or well known person signifies. And through this the consumer identifies the brand through the face of the product by the way they feel or through the mirror of the ad.

One thought on “RR2: Differenciation

  1. rmichals

    You summarize the Williamson piece well. I would add that according to Williamson, advertising depends for its meaning on what you already know. The Babe ad only seems radical because it is not the Chanel No. 5 ad.


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