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study advertising’s exploitation of environmentalism in order to sell products.

Assignment One: Going Green

Objectives:

  • To practice close reading of a visual text using the semiotic method discussed in our textbook Signs of Life.
  • To also apply the concepts from the assigned readings to your analysis of an advertisement.
  • To effectively organize an essay (thesis statement, focused paragraphs, introduction, conclusion) that forwards an argument using effective support and logical reasoning.

Readings

From Signs of Life

Laurence Shames’ “The More Factor” (80)

James B. Twitchell’s “What We Are to Advertisers” (177)

Julia B. Corbett’s “A Faint Green Sell: Advertising and the Natural World (235) This piece is long so give it time!

Phyllis M. Japp and Debra K Japp’s “Purification through Simplification: Nature, the Good life, and Consumer Culture” (128) This piece is long and fairly complicated—again, give it some time.

 Both Japp’s and Corbett’s essays will help you to formulate your paper

Writing Assignment:

This assignment asks you to study advertising’s exploitation of environmentalism in order to sell products. Specifically, you are asked to select and examine the various ways advertising invokes environmental values and natural imagery. The assigned readings will help us to conduct a semiotic analysis of these ads–what do the images represented in the ad(s) suggest to you about the American culture at large or a specific segment of our culture? And to what extent can you identify and apply the techniques discussed in the readings to your ad analysis The one restriction is that you use CURRENT  “green” advertisements.

Select a set of “Green” Advertisements (1-3) and then in a 900-1000 word essay address one of the following prompts:

Option I:

Select a single CURRENT ad (or you may chose several) that uses nature as a backdrop, and conduct an in-depth analysis of it. As a critical framework, use the six reasons advertising can be “faint green” that Julia B. Corbett outlines in her essay. You do not have to apply all the reasons–you may choose the ones that you think most apply to your ad(s)

Option II:

Again, select one or several CURRENT “green ads;” then adopting the perspective of Laurence Shames in “The More Factor” (80) write an essay in which you argue whether the “faint green” advertising Corbett describes is an expression of the American desire for more and discuss the extent to which these traits appear in the ad(s) you’ve selected.

Option III:

Study one issue of a current travel magazine (maybe even tourism advertisements for Los Angeles or California), focusing on the advertising (or a selection of ads focusing on travel). To what extent is nature presented as “sublime” or as backdrop? (again, you are using Corbett here). Use your observations to demonstrate, refute, complicate the idea that presenting nature as “unproblematic” can have a dangerous effect on our environmental consciousness.

Option IV:

Write an analysis of the contradictions you find in (1-3) green marketing campaigns/advertisements that present the possession of consumer goods as ways to achieve the simple life. Consult both Japp and Japp’s “Purification through Simplification” (128) and Julia B. Corbett’s “A Faint Green Sell: Advertising and the natural World” (235) to develop your response.

For all four options:

  • Your essay must reference (in a thoughtful way) at least two of the assigned readings from Signs of Life and include a works cited page.
  • Make sure that your argument is focused with a clearly articulated thesis statement and that this statement appears somewhere in the first 1-2 paragraphs. Your thesis should name/identify your ads and the degree to which you find them effective/ineffective or even problematic in their use of one or several of the concepts from our readings.
  • Support all assertions with evidence form the advertisements.
  • Don’t overlook the text in favor of the images, and don’t overlook the images in favor of the text. Make sure that you discuss all aspects of the ads which are relevant to your analysis.
  • It may help to first think about the target audience for a particular advertisement

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