This study examined beauty advertisements in local English magazines from a Critical Discourse Analysis perspective. This study mainly focused on the use of language in beauty advertisements and strategies employed by advertisers to manipulate and influence their customers. The analysis is based on Fairclough’s three-dimensional framework. It demonstrates how the ideology of ‘beauty’ is produced and reproduced through advertisements in popular local women’s magazines. A qualitative research was conducted on beauty product advertisements in two popular local women’s magazines, Cleo and Women’s Weekly.
The findings indicated that advertisers used various strategies to manipulate women. The advertisements promote an idealised lifestyle and manipulate readers to a certain extent into believing whatever that is advertised is indeed true. This study revealed how the ideology of beauty is constructed and reconstructed through magazines by stereotyping how beauty products are synonymous with a better life. Advertising language is used to control people’s minds. Thus people in power (advertisers) use language as a means to exercise control over others.
Keywords: CDA, advertisements, power, manipulate 1. Introduction The stiff competition in attracting potential customers has forced advertisers to employ vigorous advertising strategies techniques such as, construct a problem that can only be solved by using their products. Similarly, beauty product companies advertise their products to convince women. Magazines are a good example of a powerful media which regularly reach a vast number of women. The local English Language magazines are constantly flooded with beauty product advertisements.
Some of them provide quite a lot of information such as, the background of the product, its effectiveness, feedback or testimonies by celebrity’s or women who have used the product, price, and so on whereas some are rather short and condensed. These advertisements tend to manipulate readers to a certain extent into believing whatever that is advertised is indeed true. The major stakeholders in advertising are the manufacturers, consumers and advertising agencies. Advertisements reach out to consumers through various media such as internet, radio, television, magazines and newspapers.
In order to ensure that advertisements are able to reach the target group, advertisers need to select the right medium. For instance, if the target group is the generation Y group, then internet would be the best source as many young people today go online when purchasing products be it clothes, gadgets, books and so on. As print media such as magazines can reach both young and old alike, advertisers or manufacturers of products take opportunity to promote their product through this media. Visuals and language in the advertisements play a pertinent role to attract women. The next section will discuss on the role of language in advertising.
Cook (2001) points out that advertisements inform, persuade, remind, influence and perhaps change opinions, emotions and attitudes. In other words, his contention is that advertisements do not only sell products but change society and make people buy things they do not want or need. He also feels that advertisements do give warnings or information to people. Hence, advertisements can help create awareness, construct identities and attitude. There are many advertisements in women’s magazines that advertise beauty products influencing women and 61 www. ccsenet. org/ass Asian Social Science Vol. 9, No.3; 2013 beauty has become an absolute religious imperative for women, thus pressuring them to do their best to hold their beauty (Baudrillard, 2005). The “ideal” women is stereotyped through visual and textual aspects of the advertisements. Advertisers use visual and linguistic means to persuade their audience. It is argued that “advertising is the most influential institution of socialisation in modern society” (Jhally, 1995). This scenario has brought into perspective on how people who are in control of advertisements manage to exercise their power and at the same time manipulate women’s beliefs.
Lau and Zuraidah (2010) perceived that advertising has been subtly distorting reality and manipulating consumers to make them buy a way of life as well as goods. Thus studies on advertisements in women’s magazines would be of great relevance to advertisers. In order to know how advertisers influence women, it is necessary first to understand what advertising is all about. Advertisements are important but not many studies have been conducted in the local context from a CDA perspective. Thus there is indeed a need for studies to investigate the use of language and other semiotic modalities in beauty product advertisements.
The findings of such research efforts can contribute further to the field of advertising as well as language and society. This study will address the following research questions: 1) What are the linguistic features used in beauty product advertisements? 2) What are the discursive techniques employed in beauty product advertisements to manipulate women? 2. Methodology & Theoretical Framework The theoretical framework employed in this study is Critical Discourse Analysis framework (2001). Advertisements are seen as media discourse as they involve language and social processes.
Hence this framework is used to show the link between the nature of social practice and the properties of language “texts”. A qualitative design was adopted for this study. A qualitative study was appropriate in this study which seeks to investigate how discourse in advertisements involves people’s construction of meanings. Beauty product advertisements in English Language local magazines were analysed. Hence for a descriptive analysis, a qualitative analysis is more appropriate rather than a quantitative analysis.
Purposive sampling was done as the study was to investigate only on beauty product advertisements where not many studies have been conducted namely lipstick, mascara and eye cream. Data was collected from two local women’s magazine, Cleo and Women’s Weekly from six issues consecutively from January to June 2012. Every advertisement on eye cream, lipstick and mascara from these magazines was retrieved and analysed. The data analysis is based on Fairclough’s Critical Discourse Analysis framework (2001). Hence this framework is used to show the link between the nature of social practice and the properties of language “texts”.
His three-dimensional framework includes a conception of discourse as text (micro level), discourse practice (meso level) and sociocultural practice (macro level). Its aim is to explore the relationships among language, ideology and power and to find out how advertisers persuade the women to buy their products. Thus, this study focused on analysing the linguistic features of beauty product advertisements in women’s magazines in Malaysia and highlights how the use of language tends to manipulate women beliefs based on the content of the advertisements. Figure 1.
Fairclough’s three-dimensional model, 2001 62 www. ccsenet. org/ass Asian Social Science Vol. 9, No. 3; 2013 3. Results and Discussions The analysis is presented at the textual (micro), discursive practice (meso) and social practice (macro) level based on Fairclough’s (2001) CDA framework. 3. 1 Textual Analysis The textual analysis relates to research question 1 on the linguistic features in the advertisements analysed. At this level of analysis the linguistic features such as vocabulary, syntax and rhetorical devices employed in advertisements are discussed.
In the study there was a great use of direct address in the advertisements for both ideological and practical reasons. The use of the second-person personal and possessive pronouns such as ‘you’ and ‘yours’ seek to address the readers directly and personally. When people are addresses individually rather than as part of mass audience it is considered highly valued. This handling of people on an individual basis is referred as ‘synthetic personalization’ (Fairclough, 1989:62). Based on the total fifty eight beauty products advertisements analysed, twenty had used direct address. Examples are as shown below: ?