Analysing TV Advertising - The Guinness surfers advertisement and the Levis Odyssey Advertisement, directed by Stephen Butler.

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Advertising has become one of the biggest and wealthiest industries in today’s society. It is a device that retailers use, to manipulate you into purchasing the latest trend or “must have” product, and advertisers combine an assortment of trickery to make you do so. They create stereotypical versions of you, and although many deny being influenced by the force of advertisements, it is like an unwelcome virus that has spread to every corner of our world, and there is no escaping it. Advertisements appeal on a subconscious level to your irrational and gullible side, a side that advertisers effortlessly manipulate and mould into doing what they want. I remember when Top Trumps were the “thing” to have, I begged my Mum for weeks for a packet, but when she eventually gave in, the trend had moved on. Advertising works in this cycle, relying on the fact that you will get bored of a product, and then teasing you with a newer “upgrade”, making it essential that you purchase it.  

The Guinness surfer’s advertisement first aired on British television in March 1999, and was directed by Jonathan Glazer. Since then it has become illustrious for its visual effects and powerful impact. The advertisement focuses on the idea of “Good things come to those who wait”, a pint of Guinness takes 119.5 seconds to pour, and the advertisement compares that to the surfers waiting on the beach for the perfect wave. The advertisement evokes a belief that you can conquer anything that you put your mind to, and appeals on a subconscious level to the part of you that craves the type of lifestyle that the surfer represents. It makes the consumers believe that if you buy a pint of Guinness, you too can conquer your dreams and aspirations.  

The advertisement tells a short story about four male surfers who wait perpetually for the perfect wave. When this wave comes, they run at it and put every ounce of strength into trying to conquer it. In the end, only one man does, and the advertisement ends showing him and his friends celebrating in a state of ecstasy. Guinness’s slogan then appears on the screen above a pint of Guinness – “Good things come to those who…” The story is illustrated through many different shots of this event, varying form long range ones of the whole beach, to close ups of the surfer’s faces, and there is some narrative by a male voiceover. There are also frequent cuts to sounds associated with drinking a pint of Guinness. For example the exhalation after taking a refreshing, cold gulp of Guinness, and the sound of a glass being banged down on the table after finishing one.

Glazer also uses black and white colours to help you associate the advertisement with Guinness, because until the end of the advertisement you could still be unsure of what actually was being advertised. The colouring also adds to the intended theme of the advertisement, it is meant to be an epic, almost like a snapshot out of a classic action film, and the black and white colours add to this effect. The editing is used to great effect in this advertisement, and is one of the main things that make it so spectacular. Overall there are around fifty different frenetically cut shots, which all create a sense of urgency and desperation. The first shot shows a man’s face, the man isn’t looking directly at the camera and seems to be focused on something behind the camera- an upcoming wave. You then see the four surfers running frantically towards the sea and mustering every ounce of strength and stamina in their bodies to try and tackle it. The shots are then showed in very quick concession, showing the surfers’ thrashing bodies amongst a midst of white foam and waves. A group of white horses are also very cleverly cut into the shots – horses are seen as a metaphor to the waves, and cutting them in makes the whole event seem even more majestic and heroic. It also makes the shots busier, giving an even more frantic feel. The horses faces are often cut in next to the faces of the four characters, drawing similarities between the two. Close ups of the men’s faces are shown briefly with their eyes squinted, and expressions of determination etched into their faces.

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The choice of these characters has obviously been very carefully made, as they make a huge difference to the appeal of the advertisement. For the main man, Glazer has chosen a pretty average looking middle aged man - he is not conventionally attractive, but he looks worn and slightly rugged, as if he has “been there”. Glazer’s target market is similar aged men who probably all have a job and a family and are held down by a lot of responsibilities. This advertisement appeals to their aspirations, and allows them a moment of irrationality to imagine themselves, like the ...

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