In the following essay, I will be analysing and comparing three car advertisements. These will be for the following cars: ‘The Bean’ a car produced in 1923 and aimed at the upper middle class men of the time, the ‘Renault Laguna’ a car produced in the mid nineteen-nineties aimed at the family market, particularly fathers and the ‘Renault Clio’ a small car aimed at women in the twenty first century. The Bean advertisement is saying to the reader ‘if you want a life of luxury and style buy this car’. The Laguna advertisement is instructing the audience to ‘evolve with the car, and buy it’.
The message of the Clio advertisement is ‘if you want to emulate the lifestyle of the woman in the advert, buy this car’. The three cars are very different vehicles aimed at different markets in different years. This is the predominant reason I chose these three vehicles. The contrast between the Laguna and Clio advertisements is particularly interesting as Renault produces them both. Their differences highlight the impact the target market has on a car advertisement. The impact appears stronger than that of the manufacturer. Areas of consideration will be attitudes, target audience, language, persuasive techniques and layout.
The Renault Laguna is a family orientated car; this is reflected in the advertisement and general marketing of the car. The use of the extended metaphor of evolution in the advertisement is very clever. The metaphor is reflected throughout; the words genetic engineering are prominent on top of the photograph, the car fades through from a racing Laguna and the backdrop includes fossils. This concept is quite intellectual but can be understood to a degree by anyone. This is appropriate because this particular advertisement was featured in the Sunday Times Magazine, a publication which is a supplement to the Sunday Times newspaper.
The Sunday Times is a broadsheet newspaper, which has a readership of intellectual professionals who could grasp and appreciate this idea. The Renault Clio advertisement is very sexual. This is clearly indicated by the slogan ‘size matters’. The advertisement frequently uses sexual innuendo to portray the cars attributes; it is for this reason that much of the advertisement can be viewed in two ways, as having sexual connotations or as simply describing the car. The advertisements attitude is in tune with the magazine it was published in. The magazine was Red magazine in two-thousand-and-one.
The readership is sophisticated ‘doing it for themselves’ twenty-first century women. The beauty of the Bean advertisement is the lack of attitude. The point is addressed and factually written about. The advertisement was very formal and marketing devices although used were much less sophisticated than those seen in later years. When the Bean was produced the public were less media sophisticated and knowledgeable than today. The car represented a life of luxury which middle-aged men aspired to and so this was enough to attract their attention.
The target audiences of the three advertisements differ considerably. These differences are apparent immediately. The Bean advertisement featured in punch magazine. A nineteen-twenty-three publication aimed at no particular market. The car creates it’s own market in this case. In the early nineteen hundreds cars were not commonplace in Britain. Car ownership was exclusive; car manufacturers did not target working class and lower middle classes, as they simply didn’t have cars. The Laguna made by Renault a French manufacturer is aimed at a family market.
The car would probably be used as a family’s main car and owned by the male, commonly. Safety and reliability are accentuated, these factors are important to families. The vehicles performance is also mentioned because men like ‘fast cars’. The fast car element is utilised by Renault with mention of the Williams Renault team. The advertisement is personal and friendly, using direct language such as ‘you’ and ‘we’. There is no use of the third person, which makes writing impersonal, and there is nothing to offend anyone; such as ageism or sexism, which can be present in advertisements.
Renault also makes the Clio but the market is very different. The car is aimed at young ‘foxy’ women much like the lady in the advertisement. Women aspire to be like her, attractive, sophisticated and glamorous. Subconsciously women look at the advertisement and think ‘if women like her covet that car, I should’. The advertisement is informal and encourages empathy. ‘Size matters’ is an opinion is an opinion shared by many women, this is ambiguous and has amusing, sexual connotations. ‘It’s what you do with it that counts’ is an opinion common to men.
The Renault Clio provides both. The new Renault Laguna. The important part of that sentence is the adjective is the new; it creates an image of something that is different, modern and better. While the Laguna may be all these things, wasn’t the previous model? This is an example of the effect language can have. The text begins with a declarative statement; this gives the impression the addresser is knowledgeable and possessing information we should believe. The second sentence is a three-part list; this is a commonly used persuasive device being used to build impact.
Other examples can be found in the advertisement such as rhetorical questions which arrogantly assume your opinion and personification ‘Laguna has adapted to it’s own’. The words repeatedly suggest positive opinions of the car such as ‘awesome’ and ‘shining example’. The advertisement also uses the positive opinions expressed by others, ‘Refined yet aurally delicious…. with a creamy snarl…. pulls with a deceptive vigour. ‘. The ellipsis could represent negative remarks but the statement has been contextualised into a completely positive set of comments. The advertisement is written in spoken, colloquial English ‘of course’.
It is as though somebody is presenting to you his or her biased view of the Renault Laguna as oppose to just facts written down. The evolution concept is followed all the way through and is referred to often; ‘no need to evolve any more’, ‘change adapt and improve’, ‘handed down’. The evolution references give suggestions of improvement and the survival of the fittest mentality. The Bean produced by A. Harper sons and Bean, LTD was sold many years before the Laguna or Clio this is reflected in the advertisement. There is no technical jargon, this is present in the other two advertisements but simply didn’t exist at the time of the Bean.
Much of the language is rarely used today, ‘sweetness’, ‘delightfully’, ‘excellence’. The language is generally less personal, and detached from the reader. This adds to the formality. Neologisms (such as ‘roominess’) are less formal in as much as they are not standard English but their meaning is clear and the stem of the word is formal English. Little in the Clio advertisement is written the phrase ‘a picture tells a thousand words’ is appropriate. What is written is simple but strategic. On the basic facts are stated and the technical jargon is minimal. It relies on the ambiguity of the slogan and text.
Women are seldom impressed by what a car can do, but are usually more interested in the look and image, what a car can do for them. The look and image is what this advertisement is selling. The relevant details are written in a small font underneath the woman’s image. It is however on the left where the eye is first drawn to. This is an issue of layout, which is very important in an advertisement, and often what makes the reader stop and look. The layout of the Renault Laguna advertisement is very simple. There is a picture with a column of text underneath. It is neat but not eye-catching.
What catches the eye is this advertisement is the slogan ‘Genetic Engineering’. The reader is interested to find out the connection between the slogan and the car and so will read on to find out. In bold ‘The New Renault Laguna. It’s Evolved’ is written, this short statement is what the reader would notice first and would stick in their mind when flicking through. If this happens the objective of the advertisement is fulfilled. The picture is the more prominent feature than the text. It shows a racing car ‘evolving’ into a family saloon. This appeals to men, who want to drive a fast, sporty car but know they need a reliable family car.
Features such as a fossil add to the evolution theme. The Bean layout is less simple. The text is more prominent and there is nothing to catch the eye. The advertisement is predominantly written, there is a lot of information to take in, but each piece can be read independently. For example in one corner is the price of the two different models. The logo is the first part of the advertisement the reader would probably notice because of the bold print and position in the top left corner where the eye is drawn to first. The logo tells you nothing except the name and the slogan ‘the leader of it’s class’ an opinion is expressed as fact.
Because of the production date of the car, a lot of the information in the advertisement would be assumed today ‘gearbox’ and a picture is used rather than a photograph. The Renault Clio advertisement is eye-catching because a beautiful woman admiring the car in a flirtatious manner occupies half of the advertisements double page spread. The reader immediately stops and thinks ‘What’s this? ‘. The information is presented in the form of a phallic shaped list, with three headings and three sentences. This may appear unnecessary but could have a subconscious effect on women.
The image of the car is small, but does stand out because it is light on a dark background. ‘Size Matters’ is central to the page an again light on a dark background. This, if nothing else, makes a woman laugh and creates empathy. I personally like the Renault Clio advertisement best but I believe all of the advertisements serve their purpose. They adhere to the public’s sophistication. They are all successful and appreciated by their relevant markets. Advertisements are a persuasive device, which aim to make people stop, read and remember. For the right person at the right time all of the advertisements do this.