This essay will analyze the advertisement in terms of their status as signs, whose associative meanings not only gave a favorable impression of the product, but were also compatible with, and complementary to, the masculine context in which they were situated; thus illustrating Roland Barthes claim that the reader can identify three “messages” from a given image; the linguistic message, which means the words; the denoted image, which is the literal image; the coded or iconic message, and the connoted image; the symbolic image; the uncoded message.
The advertisement I will use as an example is ‘Extreme Polo sport by Ralph Lauren. As its name suggests, this is a fragrance which is designed to be strongly reflective of masculinity, and it is of no surprise that the advert is featured in the opening pages of FHM which is a staunchly male publication. Emphasizing the products distinct masculinity is a distinct set of signs, which are carefully orchestrated to convey a relevant and unified message. Unlike the Dune advert, the Extreme Polo Sport advertisement is neither subtle nor artistic, and nor does it attempt to construct a plausible relationship between the product and a prescribed emotion such as ‘freedom.’ Instead, the advert presents a simple iconic image of the product, and iconic image of the subject who is shown to be a skydiver. We are not explicitly told of the emotional association which the subject is supposed to bring to the product, but the we can deduce that he can excel in the demands of physical extremity, thus allowing us to form our own emotional associations with the brand, associations which will undoubtedly be complicit with the gender of the subject, the masculinity of the magazine, and the masculinity of the sport on show. Hence the product is allowed to speak for itself, as is portrayed by the blunt, practical copy: ‘Introducing the new men’s fragrance Extreme Polo Sport Ralph Lauren’…