Wednesday, December 8, 2010

2004 Pepsi advert.

This is the 2004 Pepsi advert featuring Britney Spears, Beyonce, Pink and Enrique Iglesias. It has used the theme of Gladiators with Enrique as the Emperor and Britney, Beyonce and Pink as the gladiators.
 The whole video shows strength and power. The three gladiators were at the time of making and showing this advert probably the most powerful and well known singers around in the world and are all also American. All three females have powerful voices which is shown in the advert as they sing a cover of Queen's 'We will rock you' and they are also dressed and ready to fight which is another example of power and strength. At the end with purely the power of their voices and the, they crowd manage to over power the Emperor and make him fall into the arena and face a tiger. 

Everything aspect of this film draws me to think that the idea behind the video is to make people think that drinking Pepsi will some how make you strong and powerful like Britney Spears and Beyonce and Pink. Also, the fact that the three female Gladiators where able to over power the Emperor may have been used to appeal to women to drink Pepsi and they might get the same feeling of power over men and any sort of ruler that they have over them. If you looked further into it, it is three American women over powering a Spanish man, which might appeal to America because of the power over another nation. 

The videos I have posted are relatively recent adverts for American made jeans. The first is an advert for Wrangler. As we discussed in the lecture, the original purpose of jeans was for the ordinary working class men. They were useful because they were long lasting and tough. They were for men who had tough and dirty jobs, and were bought purely for practicability. This advert focuses on that original selling point. It shows American footballer Brett Favre playing a casual game of American football with other men around his age. They are playing in the mud and shown falling over, showing the jeans toughness. Being a sportsman, especially an older and highly respected one, gives him an image of the all-American man's man, therefore identifying with the audience Wrangler are selling too. Also the song "bad to the bone" very much backs up this image.

The second video is for Levi jeans, and is clearly selling to a completely different audience. We see Brad Pitt being released from prison, and greeted by an attractive young woman who brings him his Levis, before they drive off into the horizon together. Brad Pitt could be described as a present day James Dean/Marlon Brando figure, Therefore Levi are clearly going the complete opposite direction from Wrangler, and trying to sell to the younger generation by making their product seem fashionable, rather than practical. Contrary to the Wrangler advert, there is no mention of the jeans being tough or comfortable, they are purely made to look cool. Even the song "20th century boy" suggests their modern approach, that Levis are not made for working class men anymore, they are made for fashionable and cool young people. You could not imaging Brad Pitt fitting in very well playing football with Brad Favre and his friends, just as you couldn't imagine Brad Favre being the cool rebel in the Levis advert.

Nike commercial

The above advertisement is for Nike and shows two of the best American Football players in Shawne Merriman and Steven Jackson competing in different weather conditions easily beating their opponents. The advert makes them look like they are constantly playing as after each tackle they are shown in a new stadium against a new team, which gives the impression that if you purchase something made by Nike you will always be at your best and ready to go. The different weather conditions show that with Nike sportswear you will be able to succeed in any conditions as it won’t let you down, be it in bright sunlight or severe snowstorms. Also as the advert features two of the best American football players at the time, it sends the message that Nike “made” these athletes, and the reason that they are performing well in the advert, and in real life matches is because they are wearing footwear and clothing that Nike has made, and if you purchase items from Nike you will be able to perform at their level as well. This leads to the notion that the reason that the opponents of the two players in the advert are unable to stop them is because they are not wearing Nike, and that is why they are made out to be ordinary compared to the “Nike superstars.” The music adds to the advert, with the beats being in time with each tackle, making it look and sound more dramatic, especially at the end, where the music sounds “victorious” as a result of Steven Jackson scoring a touchdown while overspowering five men which displays the success you can achieve with the help of Nike sportswear.

To conclude the whole advert displays a great symbolic value for Nike sportswear, as buying it’s cheaper rivals may save you money, but you won’t be wearing clothing or footwear that NFL players such as Merriman or Jackson wear, meaning that if you do buy from Nike you will be able to put yourself in the same league as those great American football players.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dodge Challenger Freedom Commercial

The advert above is for an American car- the Dodge Challenger.
The advertisement contains many typically 'American' values of freedom and liberty, making reference to the war of independence, with the ideology behind it summarised by 'America got two things right; Cars and freedom'. The message behind the ad is that if you buy the car it will set you free and make you independent, allow you to drive in comfort anywhere, pushing forward the American notion of exploration and freedom through driving and being on the open road. Though a road is not shown, the backdrop to the ad has mountains or large hillside and forest- signifying wilderness, and hinting and exploration.

Most Americans see the Independence of American from Britain as a positive thing, the car is shown to be vs the British, so it is implied that if Americans still believe in the value of American freedom they believe in the product- the car. If they rejected the advert they would be saying that the British should have won. The ad is trying to 'retain' American values of freedom and target those who believe in that, the setting is unsettled (no houses, town) meaning that the car would allow you to truly be free and go back to the days of simple unsettled wilderness- a want/desire of many Americans- advocated by followers of the teaparty.

The ad is meant to stir up patriotism and notions of American freedom, the American flag being featured on the cars themselves (it also makes them look almost presidential and important- the brave travel in these cars) and the American flag fades in the ending to a flag of the Dodge logo, representing that the car is part of the American ideal and that it is setting America free. Possibly George Washington type figure at the end??

Shine! The Horatio Alger Musical

This contemporary use of the 'Horatio Alger concept(s)' formulated into a play-

'"Shine!" is an original musical comedy based on characters and situations found in the works of Horatio Alger, particularly Ragged Dick and Silas Snobden's Office Boy... we stuck with Alger's pervasive theme: that in America one could begin with nothing, and with the right attitude, hard work, application, and a little bit of luck, dream a dream and chart a course on which to achieve it. '

The formulation of the ideas and situations in Ragged Dick being turned into a play shows how influential the ideas and values that Alger wrote of are, even years on. His message is seen as a truly 'American' one, an early pioneer of the American Dream. The content of the book is optimistic and uplifting- making it perfect for a musical. It shows that many Americans must still value Alger's hard work ethic and idea that 'any one can make it', and believe in the 'dream' to be drawn to a play of this kind.

The play is spreading Alger's uplifting message to further generations, though his ideas have been challenged (Michael Moore 'Horatio Alger must die') ideas of American exceptionism live on, which is essentially part of what Alger's myth is. Any one can make it in America with hard work education and dreams because America is 'exceptional'. This patriotism and pride is unlikely to go away any time soon, meaning Alger's myth is only embraced, accepted and spread further. Recently American politicians criticised Obama for not believing America is 'exceptional' proving it is still an important concept to many Americans; who would therefore agree with Alger's' exceptionalist' notions and buy into Alger 'inspired' things such as this play.

Pop Tarts Flavorhood 2009 TV Commercial

Pop-tarts are the perfect treat for any child. They come in a foil wrapper and are not likely to spoil. You can eat them cold or heat them up. You can toast them and dunk them in nice warm hot chocolate if you choose. So Pop-Tarts really are a versatile food. Having eaten only one pop-tart in my life, I paid a visit to the web site ( and found there is very little information about Pop-tarts. The video reflects the website, and opens with a short video advising children to get outside and play. This suggests that the Pop-tart people feel guilty due to the increasing number of children becoming obese thanks to the growing number of sweet and calorific treats on offer at supermarkets. The commercial appeals to children as a colourful setting, glamorising Pop-tarts as a tasty snack. What it neglects to tell you is that is packed with e-numbers and will give your child a chronic sugar rush and could set them on the path to diabetes.
Having found a lack of information on the Pop-tarts website, I went to the makers of the treat: which has a happy promotional logo: "Great-tasting Kellogg's® Pop-Tarts® toaster pastries are fully baked and ready to eat right from the box, or you can warm them in the toaster. And many varieties are exceptionally delicious frozen. Pop-Tarts provide seven essential vitamins and minerals. They contain zero grams of trans fat, and they are available in a variety of favorite flavors. When you're on the go, take along Go-Tarts™snack bars - everything you love about Pop-Tarts, now in a bar." The website boasts over 40 flavours, and the company has also introduced other calorific treats packed with fat and other unheard of ingredients they conveniently leave out. It would seem that the company keep dishing out more and more products similar to the tasty Pop-tarts to tempt children when really it is advertising like the Pop-tart commercial that are one of four commercials on day time and prime-time television devoted to food and drinks and beg questions about the part television plays in obesity. Out of 5,724 commercials recorded, 1,162 were food-related, with 91.2% of food promotions in English, and 8.7% in Spanish. Only 1 commercial was bilingual. Overall, nearly 1 in 5 advertisements was for a food or nutrition-related product, with 5.2 food advertisements presented every hour. Fast-food restaurants, sugary food, chips/crackers, and sugar-added beverages collectively accounted for more than 70% of food commercials; 34% were for ''food on the run,'' fast-food restaurants and convenience food. Commercials on the children’s networks are predominately for sugary cereals and sweets, high fat food, convenience of fast food restaurant food, and chips and crackers. For the child consumer, they are exposed to 76% more food commercials per hour than any other of the general audience networks. During the Saturday morning slot from 7 till 10 am the food commercials mainly consist of more saturated food and approximately 7 commercials per hour appear in programming on children’s networks, which is roughly 1 food commercial every 8 minutes.

Contemporary use of the phrase "Horatio Alger,"

The website I have chosen isn’t a support group or society, it is an article about a picture being sold of Lindsay Lohan for a ridiculous amount of money. Within the article the lady who took the photo was offered a quarter of a million dollars of Lindsay Lohan walking out of a gas station and why shouldn’t she receive the money? She is potentially being offered enough to support her family in luxury for the next few years and the writer states, “Isn't that the American dream? This is the Horatio Alger story of our times, isn't it?” I believe that Ragged Dick could be compared to the lady as being in the right place at the right time and being offered something you cannot refuse. The lady could be living in poverty and through receiving this money she could be underlining the notion of the American Dream. However, Alger’s dream is unique and highlights morality and respectability rather than wealth and power. Alger portrays kindness and sincerity and ambition to be crucial to the advancement of Dick. The lady in Bryan Young’s article had no struggle snapping the photo, and given the circumstances this could be seen as the notion of the American dream; there was no effort in taking the photo and there certainly wasn’t effort in selling the photo.

The article can be seen as a modernised article of Horatio Alger’s story – the money could be seen as a blessing on the lady’s behalf, she could be a single mother with hospital bills to pay and children to raise. The character of Mr Grayson gave a helping hand to Dick and gave him the opportunity to change his life around for the better.

Coca Cola Commercial 1997

This Christmas advert from 1997 sells the image of Christmas loved by Americans. The video begins with a man reading to a small boy. Magically, dreamlike, a brightly lit Coca Cola truck bursts into the room. A boy outside rings a church bell to summon everyone into a winter wonderland with bright lights, a parade, Christmas trees and an unending stream of illuminated trucks. Everyone is excited and the musical mantra of 'holidays are coming..holidays are coming' adds to the expectation. At the end of the video, the boy who rang the bell receives a bottle of coke conjured into his hands and waves at an image of Santa on the back of the departing truck, who salutes him with a bottle of coke, which he the drinks.

This advert speaks to the widely treasured images of Christmas, to middle American values and ideology, with a strong emphasis on family and children. The long string of trucks confirms that Coca Cola can 'deliver' to everyone wherever and whoever they are. The words of the jingle talk of loving, sharing, emotion, and the implied hope of families getting together at the festive season. There is also a feeling of nostalgia and a product that has been around for a long time. This means it is in the consciousness of all generations. Coke's functional characteristic is of course that it quenches your thirst

A bottle of coke is just a tasty soft drink that quenches your thirst, but because it is affordable by everyone, so well known and widely enjoyed, it is elevated to another level and becomes - 'The real thing'.

Happy Christmas!

Jill Glazier

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Horatio Alger

The Horatio Association of Distinguished Americans was founded in 1947 and strives to encourage the young to pursue economic opportunity afforded them through the American free enterprise system. The Association presents awards to create Horatio Alger 'heroes' by awarding need-based scholarships.

One of these Distinguished Americans is Dennis Franklin Holt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the US International Media, California.

He says "never let the good people out of your life because they will forever turn on that next light for you."

This made me think of the character in my presentation, Henry Fosdick. If Dick attained success later in life, he would have surely cited Henry as one of the people who helped him along the way.

The son of a Swedish immigrant, Holt was born at the end of the depression in rural Minnesota. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1939 where his father worked as a labourer in the shipyard. His father suffered a heart attack which meant he couldn't work again. The family lived in a boarding house. Their diet consisted of milk, toast and canned spaghetti most of the week. The low motivation and low self esteem his father suffered from led Dennis to pin motivational sayings on his bedroom wall. He taught himself three new words a day to expand his vocabulary.

He was helped by a actor friend into a job on a film set and later landed bit acting parts and so eventually he was able to get his family out of the boarding house. After graduating from high school, his father told him he should move out and become independent. Through hard work he eventually got a job with RKO in San Francisco and later New York. He went from strength to strength and became very successful.

He states his philosophy as hard work making you luckier, and that it is important to always do the right thing and never lie.

Certainly Horatio Alger and his Ragged Dick would have agreed with the working hard and never lying.

Jill Glazier

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

This link is for the Horatio Alger society which aims to encourage people to strive and succeed in life. The society raises money to provide a scholarship for a few high school graduates every year with the means to 'strive and succeed'. The people chosen are those who have overcome significant adversity in their lives.

The reason that the society gives for this society is that they feel it carries on the land of opportunities that was around during Horatio Alger's time. This land of opportunities was that through hard work and some luck anyone  can become economically sound and respectable. This is shown in Ragged Dick as it is through Dick's hard work and a few chance meetings, one being the meeting with Frank and his uncle which gave him a smart clean set of clothes and advice on money and a financial start of $5 which lead Dick to rent accommodation and work his way up to becoming economically better and which you can assume meant Dick carried on working his way up in the world.

Horatio Alger

The link above gives information about the Horatio Alger Association Scholarship which helps students attend college who wouldn’t normally be able to.

On the webpage it reads that “The Horatio Alger Association seeks to assist students who have
• demonstrated integrity,
• perseverance in overcoming adversity,
• strength of character,
• financial need,
• a good academic record,
• commitment to pursue a college education,
• and a desire to contribute to society.”

The list above, which is a guideline for the type of person the Horatio Alger Association gives scholarships to, also reads as a list of qualities the character of Ragged Dick in Horatio Alger’s novel displays. Dick demonstrates integrity by not stealing even when he has the opportunity, and overcomes adversity by being able to survive even though he has lived on the streets of New York for most of his life. His living on the streets also shows his strength of character, as well as the financial need he needed in the novel to get himself a room of his own. Finally Dick showed a commitment to pursue education by allowed Fosdick to teach him about reading and writing instead of spending his free time by going to the theatre and gambling.

Therefore the scholarship the Horatio Alger Association gives to students is a modern day version of the novel Ragged Dick, where people who have the same qualities as the fictional boy are giving a chance to go to college. In this way the Horatio Alger association could be seen as the Mr Grayson or Mr Whitney characters, which helped give Dick the help he needed to change his life.