The Cluttered Landscape of Advertising
Copyright © 2008 Isabel Pedersen
Goldman and Papson explain that the “competitive stress on images – as signs – has made the sign war an increasingly familiar part of our electronic cultural landscape of the 1980s and 1990s” (20). They are referring to the famous cola wars (coke and pepsi), as well as the sneaker wars, beer wars, credit cars wars and so many other battles for sign recognition in advertising.
Sign Wars is one of the first books to recognize the advertising shift in the 90s toward reflexivity whereby participants in ads deliberately project self-reflexive subjectivity. These ads acknowledge a victimized consumer in an “attempt to create an empathetic relationship with the viewer by foregrounding the constructed nature of the text positioning the viewer . . . as a holder of cultural capital” (74). This mock empathy then seems to structure a knowing consumer who feels less as if or he she is being taken by an ad.
Overall, a valuable contribution to the semiotics of advertising.