Bad Ad

January 17, 2011
By Amanda Zilli BRONZE, Hartland, Wisconsin
Amanda Zilli BRONZE, Hartland, Wisconsin
4 articles 0 photos 0 comments

This is a print ad for Vans apparel and shoes. Vans created this media message to convince young people to buy their products. Vans is a company known for their middle priced product line, consisting of apparel of both genders, shoes, and accessories. They’re mostly known for their shoe line, which ranges from 40 to 60 dollars.
This ad appeals to teenage girls, ages 15 to 20. The main audience is middle to upper class white girls because that’s who’s pictured in the advertisement and who can afford it. The jeans in this ad cost around $48 and the red sweater shown is $54. I found this ad in Teen Vogue Magazine, which supports the stated target market. It’s doubtful that boys or adults pick up a magazine specified for teenage fashion and come across this ad.
The ad shows two young girls, around 17, pictured leaning up against a wall, wearing almost unnoticeable Vans apparel. The girl on the left is wearing a sweatshirt that has “VANS” printed on it, but her hand covers the V, making it unrecognizable. There is an empty spray paint can in between the girls, and illegible graffiti scribbled on the carpet. Above the two girls, is a black and white poster with three pairs of women’s eyes. In the lower right corner of the page, there’s the Vans logo in small, black text, and the phrase “Off the Wall,” written underneath. The least noticeable part of the ad is the only part that in any way advertizes Vans products.
It’s targeted towards young, wealthy, white girls because the ad illustrates this description. It shows vandalism and girls huffing spray paint to get high. These youthful, pretty girls appear burned out, as a result of their actions with the spray paint. That’s not the message a magazine focused on teens should be giving their readers. This ad is bad because Vans is promoting getting high and vandalizing. By doing this, they’re essentially putting a message across that everyone does this, it’s okay to try, and hey, it’s fun.

The most prominent tool of persuasion being used in this ad is symbols. The Vans slogan is “Off the Wall,” and then they’re indirectly promoting huffing spray paint. It’s saying if you huff this paint, your behavior will become off the wall. The symbol in the ad and the slogan isn’t a coincidence.

Another persuasion tool that’s used is plain folks. There are two ordinary, non famous, teenage girls pictured in this Vans advertisement. This technique attracts the average teenage girl. They relate to the girls in the ad and want to be like them. So the viewers want to wear what they’re wearing and do what they’re doing, even if they’re huffing paint! This piggybacks on the hopping on the bandwagon idea. By wanting to be like the girls in the ad, they assume that everyone is doing it too.

There seems to be no healthy messages communicated when regarding the Vans advertisement. Everything about this advertisement screams Bad Ad. This ad insinuates the girls huffed spray paint, got high, drew graffiti, and were burned-out when the picture was shot. All of reasons listed allow this ad to fall under the “Bad Ad” category.

This ad is considered offensive to any person who buys and supports Vans products. It challenges stereotypes that everyone wearing that type of clothing must be a drug addict. This is displeasing to supporters of the product because they don’t want to be labeled as that.

The part of the story that isn’t being told through this ad is what those girls were actually doing. It’s assumed they were doing illegal things, by the way the props were strategically placed, but it’s not for certain. Nowhere in this ad does it tell the reader what the company sells or how much it costs. Overall, Vans doesn’t accomplish telling the real message they’re trying to get across with this advertisement, and it doesn’t make sense.

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