This week, I was introduced to semiotics, which is simply the science of signs. Semiotics, brought about by linguist’s Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles Peirce, assesses the study of meaning and different interpretations of texts. A sign is something which can be read or interpreted. It may be constructed from words or images, in order to convey a message. In today’s society, semiotics can create much controversy, especially when in regards to the media. Often, advertising sparks controversy, as the messages behind the sign somewhat differs the message behind the sign, as interpreted by recievers.
The below image is a perfect example of a meaning of a sign being dampened by the message that the sign with holds.
*And may I begin by saying…Really Woolies? REALLY???*
S0, as demonstrated on the given sign, this poster was released by Australian supermarket giant ‘Woolworths’ on the 100 year commemoration of Anzac Day.
Anzac Day is a time to remember soldiers who fought for their country and show respect and gratitude for their sacrifice. Woolworths however, on the iconic 100 year anniversary, used this day to promote their business in an attempt to gain in a commercial manner. This was a highly unethical act by Woolworths and caused much controversy.
In the above image, signifiers are the words and the images. A signifier is anything that gives meaning to text. The signifiers in this image is an image of a soldier who fought for Australia in World War 1 and is being commemorated for Anzac Day and text phrases stating “LEST WE FORGET”, “ANZAC 1915-2015”, “FRESH IN OUR MEMORIES” AND “Woolworths”. This therefore creates strong emphasis on what is signified. In a sign, what is signified is the mental concept, I.e. what is evoked among the viewer upon reception of the sign’s message. In this text, much controversy struck due to the signified effects of this sign. Woolworths’ slogan is “Woolworths, the fresh food people” which is largely why this promotion was received in such an offensive way. Society felt that Woolworths had used the term ‘Anzac’ and the connotations surrounding the meaning, in an attempt to gain commercial benefit, and hence signified many negative views/opinions and backlash.
This image can be read and interpreted in many ways, although the most common interpretation was that Woolworths was conducting unethical use of the term “Anzac” and that this was unacceptable in today’s society.
As a result of the backlash and signified effects of this image, Woolworths was forced to remove this image from promotion within hours of it’s release.
Semiotics relate to the messages sent by signs everywhere and the science behind interpretations of those signs.
Until next time, thats this week Pinned.