Project 2: Reading Pictures

This exercise asks that the student ‘rip out an advertising image from a newspaper supplement and circle and write on as many parts of the image as you can. Comment on what it is, what it says about the product and why you think it’s there’.

assignment 3-12

Advertisement Critique

The above advertisement for Newbridge Silverware appeared in The Sunday Times Style Ireland Magazine 6th March 2016. The Sunday Times is the second best selling Sunday broadsheet and third overall best selling Sunday newspaper in Ireland since 2010 (Joint National Readership Survey).

What is it ?

The purpose of the above advertisement is to promote the Newbridge Silverware brand and ultimately increase product sales. It features a photograph of supermodel Naomi Campbell which occupies slightly more than half the advertisement (approximately 57%), with the photograph format ratio 5:2 in favour of it’s height. In the photograph, Naomi Campbell, with hands behind her head, seductively leans back against a steel bulkhead. She wears a fashionable, yet unassuming pair of shoes and a piece of Newbridge Silverware which is moulded into the shape of a short cocktail dress.

The rest of the advertising space is in the light blue colour of the Newbridge brand. Naomi Campbell’s name appears in the advertisement’s largest font in the upper third of this space. Below her name in a smaller font are the words “FOR NEWBRIDGE SILVERWARE”. The middle third remains blank, while the bottom third presents the registered brand name graphics, followed by the company internet address, #NSBlueBox and social media symbols.

What does it say about the product ?

Newbridge Silverware are using supermodel Naomi Campbell to sell their brand. Campbell is a household name and has broad appeal. The advertisers have used anchoring text to control and fix the meaning of the image (follow the link to a previous exercise I carried out in which anchoring text was used). Campbell’s name appears in the largest font to attract the reader’s attention, followed by the brand she represents. The company name and graphics appear smaller, set against the light blue background which is synonymous with the brand. The brand name is understated in keeping with the image of sophistication and elegance the company wants to project. Overall the company has adopted a minimalist approach to the information that it provides, offering only it’s internet address, a hashtag link and some popular symbols to link to it’s social media pages. I believe that this uncluttered and well balanced advertisement is extremely successful in optimizing information delivery with minimal viewer distraction.

The advertisement photograph is essentially a metaphor for the brand itself. The steel bulkhead projects an image of the company’s strength, reliability and permanence. Naomi Campbell, who appears immaculately smooth, striking the right balance between elegance and seduction, represents the customer’s desired self image. The silver dress, although made of metal, appears pliable, accentuating the female form and bridging the gap between the softness of Campbell and the strength and permanence of the steel bulkhead.

Why ?

While the advertisement doesn’t promote any one product, it does a excellent job in attracting new customers as well as reaffirming the brand name in the minds of existing ones.

Overall this was a very interesting exercise. I’ve have a subscription with Source: The Photographic Review, and I’m a regular reader of Judith Williamson’s articles, in which she deconstructs popular product advertising. I found it very informative and insightful to take the time to physically annotate an advertisement for myself. It was very much like editing a contact sheet, in that when you physically mark the images, your reason for keeping or rejecting an image become more clear.

The exercise concludes with the suggestion to ‘come back to this exercise when you’ve reached the end of Part Four and see if you can add anything to your analysis’.


Boothroyd, S. (2012) ‘Beneath the Surface’, WeAreOCA Blog [online], 17 Oct, availabe: [accessed 30 Mar 2016].

News Brands Ireland (2016) ‘Readership’ [online], available: [accessed 30 Mar 2016].

Woolley, D. (2014) ‘Looking at Adverts:5’, WeAreOCA Blog [online], 22 Dec, available: [accessed 30 Mar 2016].


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