Erkki Pekkilä: "Connotative Meanings and Advertising Music" (8/11)


The function of the music is to serve the message of the commercial, affect the viewer, and to be one of the components that create a positive image of the product which is being presented. Commercial music is not a value in itself but its aim is to influence the viewer. The music here is an autonomic element and it serves the rhetoric of the commercial. Of course there is a paradox here, in that the makers of the commercial music do not think along these lines. They may be making what they consider "good" music. The problem here is that commercials are collective texts, there are many people making them and the possibilities of the music maker to the whole are non-existing.

The Meanings

What is the meaning of the commercial? First of all, it is quite useless to talk about one meaning here. In the field of cultural studies it is agreed (e.g. Fiske, 1989) that popular culture texts are polysemic, containing a multitude of meanings. Despite the fact that the viewer could interpret, decode one and only meaning involved in the message, he uses the text as a resource to builds up new meanings. Here it is a question of large social meanings, and I do not want to talk about them. Instead, there is some kind of immanent meaning on a textual level in the commercial that the advertiser has put there.

The apparent purpose of the advertiser has been to connect the product with daily-life and its events, especially the joy and also the disappointments. The message is that the product can be used in all situations. Another is underlying meaning can be found in the jingle's chorus where there are two keywords: "America" and "share". In the commercial, the chewing gum is not only displayed as chewing gum but also a piece of America. For the Americans this may be a patriotic concept but for the international audience, instead, a mythological concept of "American-ness", whatever it may mean to different people in different countries. The chewing of gum is not chewing but a symbol of "American-ness".

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AS/SA Nº 4, Article 6 : Page 8 / 11

© 1998, AS/SA

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