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How To Analyse Advertising

Rob Miller | Tuesday September 27, 2011

Categories: A Level, Eduqas (WJEC) A Level, WJEC A2, WJEC A2 Media Studies, WJEC AS, WJEC AS Media Studies, Advertising, Intro to Advertising, More on Advertising

In the MS4 exam or any form of external assessment you will be analysing the Advertising Industry as a Media Form, just like Film and Television.

Advertising can be deconstructed like any other Media form. The key relationship with Advertising and other Media forms however it that it is often (advertising) the essential funding that underpins their very existence. All of the following rely on advertising revenue:

  • Commercial Television – Sky TV/ITV Networks/C4/C5 etc…..
  • Commercial Radio – Kiss/Capital/Virgin/XFM/Essex FM
  • All Newspapers and Magazines
  • Websites

Without advertising all the above Media forms would have limited distribution, lower production values and reach a significantly reduced target audience.

All Media Studies Concepts Apply To Advertising


Genre can be deconstructed in many advertisements e.g. 2010 Coke Zero television advert (Action), 2009 Carlsberg ‘know who your mates are’ TV advert (Sci Fi plus intertextual references to Danny Boyle’s Sunshine) and 2006 Honda’s The Impossible Dream TV advert as part of The Power of Dreams campaign (Road Movie). Charity advertising like the 2010 Barnardos TV advert often reference the documentary genre in terms of codes and conventions.


Many adverts have a narrative or story that can be analysed in terms of narrative structure or narrative enigmas. Enigmas are crucial in advertising as they engage the audience in a dialogue with the communication. Often Levi-Strauss’ theory of Binary Oppositions can apply to Advertising (product demonstration before and after adverts).

Target Audiences

Analysing and identifying target audiences are particularly relevant with Advertising as Advertising seeks to use sophisticated criteria to identify consumers (see handout Indentifying Target Audiences).

Audience Theory

Theories learnt at AS and A2 can be applied to Advertising e.g. Active and Passive consumption (Uses and Gratification and Hypodermic Needle...

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