Qualifications of Meaning in Advertising Images

An investigation of the interactive process instigated by cultural activity can also be seen as a "reflection on the intellectual position of certain cultures." (The English Association, 1999, p.182) Western design and visual communication is regarded as having originated from concepts of global power held by mass media and communication industries. (The English Association, 1999, p.182) By referring to Michael Halliday’s concept of representing patterns of experience, visually speaking, it is suggested that what images portray is deeply related to the medium of visuality itself, and therefore a culture that is "dominated by visual signs" will communicate a different reality to one in
which language is the predominate medium. (The English Association, 1999, p.182) There is a relationship between the visual and verbal texts and "the visual component of a text is an independently organized and structured message-connected to the verbal text, but in no way dependent on it and similar the other way around." (The English Association, 1999, p.182) Vivienne Westwood’s image is an advertisement which focuses on selling a perfume called ‘Boudoir’. (www.viviennewestwood.com) The image used in this advertisement portrays a female who is draped by purple covers and her body structure suggests her sleeping on a sunset sky. (www.viviennewestwood.com) The predominate colors are soft purple, yellow and blue. According to Michael D. Harris: "Images and symbols can convey meaning centrifugally by using concrete, physical information to evoke understandings within the viewer". (Harris, 2003, p.253) Through the images conveyed in Westwood’s advertisement, it can be argued that the use of covers and soft colors symbolize calm, sensually stimulating atmosphere, in which the reader is able to understand its connection with her perfume called ‘Boudoir’, or bedroom in English. Similarly, the advertisement provides the audience with a visual stimulus that is linked to sexuality, which is in turn an emotional stimulus. (Web/Online) As Westwood’s image is analyzed, it is easy to understand that the sexuality concept is largely emphasized with the woman figure floating on air, naked and wrapped in bed sheets. The sexual feelings sent out to the audience through a semi-naked female stresses the "nature" style of the product. (Web/Online) The colors yellow, blue and purple contrast the relatively smaller bottle of perfume situated on the far right corner of the advertisement. The basic principle of advertising "requires that an advertisement should
first draw attention and interest then desire and action". (Web/Online) Thus, the visual language being employed by Westwood’s advertisement is one of a sexual nature. The significance of the image or what its connotation implies is one of a private and sensual feeling that can be attained through the use of the perfume. Moreover, the language used in the advertisement, which is seen in bold white upper-case font, is the title of the perfume, ‘Boudoir’. The title itself works through its own means as well as within the picture. For example, ‘Boudoir’ is part of the French language for