1st Edition

Imaging in Advertising Verbal and Visual Codes of Commerce

By Fern L. Johnson Copyright 2008
    272 Pages
    by Routledge

    268 Pages
    by Routledge

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    The dominance of advertising in everyday life carries potent cultural meaning.  As a major force in the rise of "image based culture," advertising spreads images that shape how people live their lives. While scholarship on visual images has advanced our understanding of the role of advertising in society, for example in revealing how images of extremely thin female models and athletic heroes shape ideals and aspirations, images circulated through lagnuage codes--or "verbal images"--in advertising have received less attention.

    Imaging in Advertising explores how the verbal and visual work together to build a discourse of advertising that speaks to audiences and has the power to move them to particular thoughts and actions.  In this book, Fern L. Johnson presents a series of case studies exploring important advertising images--racial connotations in cigarette advertising, representations of cultural diversity in teen television commercials, metaphors of the face appearing in ads for skin care products, language borrowed from technology to sell non-technology products, and the illusion of personal choice that is promoted in many Internet web sites.  Johnson argues that examining the interplay of verbal and visual images as a structured whole exposes the invase role of advertising in shaping culture in 21st century America.


    1. Advertising Images and Discourse 

    2. Smoke and Mirrors: Circulating Racial Images in Cigarette Advertising

    3. Keeping Race in Place: Multicultural Visions and Voices in Teen Advertising

    4. Different Tropes for Different Folks: Advertising and Face-Fixing

    5. Madison Avenue Meets Silicon Valley: Technology Imprints on Advertising

    6. From Barbie to BudTV: Advertising in the Fifth Frame


    Fern L. Johnson is Professor of English and participating faculty member in the interdisciplinary Communication and Culture Program at Clark University. She is author of Speaking Culturally: Language Diversity in the United States.

    "An illuminating examination of how the verbal and visual combine to create the language of advertising.  A welcome and important contribution to the field."--Jean Kilbourne, author of Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel

    "Although we are bombarded by images on a daily basis, there are a surprisingly few number of books that really get under the skin of how advertisements work to sell products. Luckily, we now have Fern Johnson’s insightful analysis to aid us in developing critical media literacy as a way to resist the allure of these seductive and manipulative images that are a key part of our visual landscape."--Gail Dines, Wheelock College

    "Emphasizing the interplay of the verbal with the imagistic Johnson’s adroitly applies linguistic and sociological constructs to the reading of advertising. Her critical sensitivity recognizes the tension between postmodern fragmentation and ideological coherence played out in campaigns which exploit the categories of race, gender, and age. Linking discursive practices with broad social meaning systems each chapter is rich with detailed readings, contextualizing information, and critical analysis. Imaging in Advertising is a rich addition to the critical literature on contemporary advertising."--Stephen Papson, co-author of Sign Wars and Nike Culture.