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Women in Advertising with reference to John Berger’s book “Ways of seeing”

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    “Women in Advertising” with reference to John Berger’s book “ways of seeing” This essay concentrates on some of the aspects of the debatable book, “WAYS OF SEEING” by John Berger 1972. Though the book is said to be one of the most stimulating and influential book on Arts and its impact, it will almost certainly change the way you look at pictures.

    Since this book is not designed as solid textbook but presented in a way to provoke readers to think and observe about images, this book has always came under the hammer of critics.I will now analyze a contemporary topic of “WOMEN IN ADVERTISING” by taking into account of some of views expressed by JOHN BERGER in his book, “WAYS OF SEEING”. Before discussing the topic, I would like to present here some history of the word, ‘advertising’. This word has different meaning in different circumstances.

    A brief history of the word, Advertising: Though this word is has dictionary meaning before First World War, it started to gain importance only after First World War.Due to over-production as a result of massive mechanization after I world war, companies started looking for alternatives to meet their heavy machinery maintenance expenses. The only alternative left was to increase their sales. They started to offer choices and inform about new happenings to their customers.

    That offer of choices later became Advertising. With changing times, advertising and its original meaning changed. It started showing consumers the difference between Worse-Bad-Good-Better-Best. In the starting stages of advertising, it was no more than a black ; white message display board.

    With changing times it changed its form and spread into print media, silver screen, neon sign boards, Internet etc. , If we look back, we will say that this word was scarcely used some 75 years ago. But now it touches every human being every day every time in form or the other. On this present day I can say that this word is the master of using the logic to serve its purpose.

    The purpose is nothing but increase the sales of the product in question. In this context John Berger quoted, “It proposes to each of us that we transform ourselves, or our lives, by buying something more.This more, it proposes, will make us in some way richer – even though we will be poorer by having spent our money”. Berger continues, “We are now so accustomed to being addressed by these images that we scarcely notice their total impact.

    A person may notice a particular image or piece of information because it corresponds to some particular interest he has. But we accept the total system of publicity images as we accept an element of climate”. Hence in this contemporary world, advertisements should be creatively crafted and designed to attract the attention of the passers-by.Advertisements over the years have changed from expressing simple message to eye-catching messages with good-looking models side-on.

    These result producing ideas forced Advertisement makers to think in similar lines. The obvious choice was good looking women for Advertisement makers. Once these famous personalities considered acting and campaigning for a product was a part-time job which later on became a specialist careers. While thinking comparatively about women and advertising, a striking similarity between Women’s ATTITUDE and advertisements struck me.

    I feel that both, 1 Demand attention 2 Wants to be surveyed 3 Propose choices for eligibles 4 Defines what can and cannot be thought about them 5 Constantly meet glances which act like mirrors reminding them of how they look or how they should look 6 Get a judgment for every glance they encounter 7 Explains everything in their own terms. They interpret the world. These and many more similarities between women and advertisements caught the attention of male advertisement designers and ended up doing logical advertisements with a blend of Lady Glamour.But thinking otherwise, Is this use of Lady Glamour morally correct? As long as women accept her “BODY” to be show-cased at a price, no voice will raise against her will.

    This is DEMOCRATIC World. Is it not? This acceptance of being showcased is what makes herself as an object in the advertisements. In this contemporary space of advertisements; • Why does a car manufacturer need to PUT a sexy lady in side seat in its technically sound vehicle? • Why does ice-cream always melts on those RED LIPS? • If a biscuit is named “Hide and Seek”, then why does it is held by semi-nude lady? €¢ In real life would anybody is being asked for a lift on a high-way by sexy lady because he wears perforated underwear? The list will go on and on..

    … We have to think rationally.

    And that”s what Berger in his book, WAYS OF SEEING, asks the reader to do. Berger constructs a notion of our visual world in the arts as deprived and lacking its true, original nature. To be in the right state of mind and to truly absorb Berger”s argument, it must first be pointed out that “Our vision is continually active; continually moving continually holding things in a circle around itself, constituting what is present to us as we are. If advertisement is to make long lasting impression, then it should infuse into buyer”s mind.

    The more the excited state of mind, more will be the impact on mind. Advertisers use this logic and aim at prospect-buyers. And nudity of female, more often than not, succeeds in infusing excitation. At the high point of excitation, the advertisers create a link between the objectified women and the product.

    As John Berger says, “Publicity is not merely an assembly of competing messages: it is a language in itself which is always being used to make the same general proposal.Within publicity, choices are offered between this cream and that cream, that car and this car, but publicity as a system only makes a single proposal. ” How to show a 5 inch line shorter? I say, it’s Simple. Draw 7 inch line beside it.

    And this is what advertisers do. They showcase their product in way that looks better than what we have. Advertisers use this logic in different ways. To make Advertisements eye-catchy, they blend it with Glamour of a lady in some cases.

    In this context John Berger simplifies it as “The spectator-buyer is meant to envy herself as she will become if she buys the product.She is meant to imagine herself transformed by the product into an object of envy for others, an envy which will then justify her loving herself. One could put this in another way: the publicity image steals her love of herself as she is, and offers it back to her for the price of the product. .

    . . . .

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    . . ” Coming back to the point of 5inch-7inch, which always logically holds good, we encircle our self in the concept of good-better-best, which always creates anxiety. The more the anxious you are the more the impact of advertisement.

    This is put by John Berger in a more beautiful way in his book as: “All publicity works upon anxiety. The sum of everything is money; to get money is to overcome anxiety. Alternatively the anxiety on which publicity plays is the fear that having nothing you will be nothing. Money is life.

    Not in the sense that without money you starve. Not in the sense that capital gives one class power over the entire lives of another class. But in the sense that, money is the token of, and the key to, show-off human capacity.The power to spend money is the power to live.

    According to the legends of publicity, those who lack the power to spend money become literally faceless. Those who have the power become loveable”. Berger’s logic continues: “The purpose of publicity is to make the spectator marginally dissatisfied with his present way of life. Not with the way of life of society, but with his own within it.

    It suggests that if he buys what it is offering, his life will become better. It offers him an improved alternative to what he is.For publicity the present is by definition insufficient. The publicity image which is ephemeral uses only the future tense.

    With this you WILL become desirable. In these surroundings all your relationships WILL become happy and radiant”. I have this picture for consideration, to see if Berger’s argument is correct. What does this image suggest when seen normally and when advertised for a Shaving gel? In first case, it appears to be a romantic picture.

    But considering otherwise provokes male viewers to day-dreaming. This is what the image is for.It says you WILL be happier. But logically thinking, Is the person before shave was never happy? Berger says “Glamour cannot exist without personal social envy being a common and wide spread emotion”.

    At this point of conclusion the essay opens up more debates: ? What is the social responsibility of Advertisers? ? To what extent feminine nudity should be allowed? ? What if the objectified women confronts with the feelings of some specific regions? This essay’s theme and the book, WAYS OF SEEING are always opened –ended arguments.

    Women in Advertising with reference to John Berger’s book “Ways of seeing”. (2018, Jun 05). Retrieved from

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