Many people are not aware of the rationale behind certain advertising messages. “Why do Infiniti ads show rocks and trees instead of automobiles?” “If car safety is so important, why do automobile ads often show cars skidding on wet, shiny surfaces?” “Target’s ads are funky, with all the bright colors and product packaging, but what’s the message?” One way to understand the vagaries of the encoding process is to think of the popular board game Taboo by Hasbro. In this game, each team tries to get its members to guess a word without using obvious word clues. For example, to get the team to guess “apple,” you may not say such words as red, fruit, pie, cider, or core. Sometimes advertising is like Taboo in that advertisers are not allowed to use certain words or descriptions. For example, pharmaceutical companies are not permitted to make certain claims or to say what a drug treats unless the ad also mentions the potential side effects. Language choices are also limited in advertising. To appreciate this, you can apply the Taboo game rules in an advertising format.23 Activities 1. Select a product from the list below, and then create a print advertisement or a television storyboard for that product. As part of the exercise, give your product a brand name. Taboo words, visuals, and concepts are given for each product type. Taboo items cannot be present in your work. Product Taboo Words, Visuals, and Concepts Deodorant Odor, underarm, perspiration, smell, sweat Pain reliever Pain, aches, fever, child-proof cap, gel Soft drinks Sugar-free, refreshing, thirst, swimwear, any celebrity 2. Now create a second ad or storyboard for your product. This time, however, you must use all the words, visuals, and concepts that are listed in the right column.
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