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Unformatted text preview: 11‘; Dr. Clark English 102- 11:30 April 22, 2013 Analysis of Toyota Sequoia Ad Flipping through a Better Homes arid Gardens magazine an upper class stay-at-liome mom may stumble upon an ad for the Toyota Sequoia. The light green spotless car effortlessly climbs up a dirt road, powerful and sleek. There are tall mountains in the background, green trees, and a clear sky. The dirty road signs and tattered map used in the background evoke feelings associated with family road trips and happiness. These are just a few things that the stay-at-home mom might first notice while pondering whether or not this item may be a good buy. At least these are some things she may consciously notice. Behind this seemingly harmless advertisement several ideas are being conveyed to the reader without their knowledge. To understand the underlying messages of an ad you must first understand the target audience, because this is what the product is being aimed at. James B. Twitchell writes about the importance of this in his writing “What We Are to Advertisers He explains that advertisers market their products around certain groups. Instead of convincing the audience the product has better qualities than another, they project qualities the audience admires or desires onto the product. Because of this, looking at the target audience of a product can be beneficial. Keeping in mind who the ad is aimed at helps you understand what it’s really trying to say. The Toyota Sequoia is being presented in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine, which tells you more than you may think. The Toyota ad is aeoompanied by ads for face creams, cleaning supplies, and fiirniture. Cleanliness is a big theme in the magazine, with tens of advertisements for cleaning supplies and portrayals of perfectly clean homes. Family is another obvious theme. In the magazine, T-Mobile uses the slogans “I take my family everywhere I run” and “stick together” to sell their phone services. It's clear this magazine, and the ads in it, is aimed at middle class stay-at-home moms concerned with cleanliness, family, and home life. Overall this magazine is a fantasy world filled with perfect homes and happy families, unblemished by everyday life. The same unblemished fantasy world exists in the Toyota Sequoia ad. The car is zooming up a dirt road yet it is perfectly clean, without a single speck of dirt on it. There are also no dirt clouds behind the tires even though it appears to be going fast. The reader of this advertisement obviously desires a perfect world. Alan Foljambe, author of Car Advertising- Dominating Nature, describes this perfectly when he says, “Utilizing viewers nostalgic desire for an unblemished world, advertisers associate cars, paradoxically but convincingly within the context of the ad, within a pristine nonhuman environment,” (247). The car is surrounded by a beautifirl nature scene including powerfiil mountains, clean looking air, and healthy trees, yet neither the car or nature is afi‘ected by one another. This is unhealthy because it’s simply not true or attainable. This has its obvious appeal to the typical germaphobic housewife. The advertisement manipulates nature in an attempt to deny the Toyota's ecological impact on Earth. F oljambe ads like this as “shallow green, or domination ads,” (pg. 246). In ads utilizing this advertising technique vehicles are shown dominating nature. Nature is simply used as the backdrop but no claim is made that the car is better for the environment than others. As I mentioned before, even though the Toyota is shown darting down a dirt road it remains clean. In the same way, the envirOnment around the Sequoia remains unaffected by the car. The air seems clean, filled with puffy clouds. The mountains are a breathtaking cite, along with healthy pines growing nearby. Images like this one are designed, as Foljambe points out, to trick the viewer to believe both car and nature can coexist together without one affected the other. This is simply not true, and most of us know this, but the image nevertheless triggers our subconscious to think so. In Better Homes and Gardens many products were advertised by directly stating their minimal or nonexistent impact on Earth, making it clear this is something the readers care about. The mountain scene isn't simply the setting for the Toyota ad because it's pretty; there are many claims behind what you see. I ‘3 While the ad convinces you the environment is unafi‘ected by cars, it also convinces you the vehicle advertised dominates the environment. The mountains in the background don't just show an unaffected environment but also where the car has previously traveled. The mountains are steep and ridged, yet the Sequoia still emerges from them shiny and unscathed. Another hint that the ad is aiming at dominating nature is the topical map used as the ads background. It only depicts elevations, not streets or road signs, a subtle clue meant to entice the reader to think the car is an off-road vehicle that can defeat any challenge thrown its way. The ground beneath the car is also blurred, as if it is going at a fast speed, yet it's on a tiny dirt road. The speed depicted is far beyond what any reasonable person would go on a dangerous road like that. It's shown in this way to evoke the reader to assume the car is advanced to a point where safety is not something you need to consciously worry about. The assertion is that the car is more powerful than the land, and the land holds no threat to the car. The car can take care of itself essentially. Its strategic placement in Better Homes and Gardens illustrates this. It's a common stereotype that women are sub-par drivers, so an advertiser may think a car that can control itself will appeal more to a woman. Women who read Better Homes are also often fiill-time mothers as well, so a safety claim would appeal to those women too. The claim that the car is safe is further enhanced by the small text on one of the road signs. It reads, “\Vith eight seats, vehicle skid control (VSC), and trac traction control system, the census may never be accurate.” As you can see the ad purposefiilly points out the safety features the car ofl‘ers. This along with the visual imagery of the speeding car on the tiny road convinces the reader the car is safe, even if it's unconsciously. The advertisement also takes great efforts to assure the reader knows the car is spacious and comfortable, which would be something a mother would probably be concerned with. The subtlest clue to this is the shot of the vehicle. It's taken at an angle with the front right corner closest to the camera. This shot shows the most of the car at one time as possible. Ifit was taken from the side, or especially the fi’ont, the car would look much smaller. The more obvious clues that the advertiser wants you to notice this is on the road signs. A small road sign in the bottom left corner reads, “Sequoia- seats 8.” The largest sign “14 reads, “In some places it doubles the population” and underneath “With eight seats, vehicle skid control (VSC), and trac traction control system, the system may never be accurate.” Most of these signs bluntly say the car is roomy, but even the sign about population hints at this. The signs also evoke a feeling of adventure, namely a family road-trip, which is the aspect the ad is most trying to sell. The text is printed on dirty road signs, and one like the route 66 sign, a classic symbol for a road-trip. The signs also read “In some places it doubles the population,” and “...the census may never be accurate,” giving you a feeling of constant movement. Under all this text another road sign reads, “Toyota. Get the feeling,” making it clear that what the advertisers aren't trying to sell a car really, but the feelings one might provoke, especially in the middle aged mother who dreams of family bonding. The use of nature and the dirt road being drove on also give a feeling of adventure. Dirt roads are the paths less traveled, an appealing notion to an adventurer. The topical map used in the back also hints at this idea of family fun‘. Altogether the designer of this advertisement is creating a sort of dream world for someone yearning for travel, something a stay-at-home mom very well might do. Consider the likelihood of a housewife who purchases this product to actually embark on a grand adventure with her family. Will simply purchasing a new car be enough motivation to do something you've put off for years? Probably not. She will probably continue to only drive when she's taking her kids to school, going to the store, or doing other errands. The Toyota Sequoia is designed for off-road and long distance drives and the price reflects this, so purchasing one is more than likely an unreasonable choice for a stay-at-home mom. The features predominantly advertised, vehicle skid control and trac traction control system, will probably never even be needed. More reasonable, and less expensive, options would be a better choice for a mother looking to purchase a new vehicle. At first glance the Toyota Sequoia ad may seem like a harmless attempt at promoting a product. Behind this, however, is an unrealistic fantasy world where unblemished fantasy prevails, promoting dominating nature, and enticing nostalgic housewives with subtle clues of family fim. This ad is much more than just a depiction of a product; it is carefully crafied to seduce the reader to purchase the hidden messages behind the presentation of the product. Mohn 6 Works Cited F oljambe, Alan. “Car Advertising- Dominating Nature.” Signs of Life in the USA: Reading on Popular Culture for Miters. 7th ed. Sonia Maasik and Janck Solomon. Boston: Bedford, 2012. 246-48. Print. Sequoia. by Toyota. Advertisement. Better Homes and Gardens Apr. 2002. Print. Twitchell, James. “What We Are to Advertisers.” Signs of Life in the USA: Reading on Popular Culture for Writers. 7‘h ed. Sonia Maasik and Janck Solomon. Boston: Bedford, 2012. 182-86. Print. ...
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