Conveying Messages Without Words

In this series of ads for a Samsung MP3 player, not a single word is written besides the product name. There is no slogan and no product explanation, and yet the message gets conveyed as clearly as if someone had spelled it out.




As illustrated in the ads above, the message is that this product has excellent and natural sound quality (so much so that it will sound as though your favorite singer is singing directly in your ear). These ads are examples of implied assertions. The audience interprets the visual elements and draws conclusions about the purpose. In this case, the reason why it is implied is the fact that nothing is explicitly stated. The conclusion is drawn from the image in the ad, and it is a strong implication because it is likely that the majority of the audience will arrive at the same conclusion. If this ad contained a direct assertion, it might sound something like this: “Samsung’s MP3 player has top quality sound that you will love to listen to.” Even though this isn’t written in the ad, this is still the overall message you get. The element that makes this ad an assertion is the fact that you would feel lied to if you found out that in fact the quality of this MP3 player is terrible and the music is distorted and full of static. It is amazing how much a reader can infer based on so little information, and how consistent the conclusions can be between readers.

Another benefit of these ads is that when readers generate their own conclusions, they are more memorable and also less likely to be viewed with skepticism. Getting people to think is a good strategy for advertisers to use. If we are going to break away from our usually cognitively lazy selves and do some real thinking, it is likely because we are interested. The mentally engaging aspect will help the product stick in our minds, because we tend to remember the things we spend more time and effort thinking about.

Another thing that I found interesting about these ads is the fact that they seem to be tailored to different target audiences. The first ad shows Elvis Presley, the second shows a hip-hop artist and the last ad shows an opera singer. Samsung could do some marketing research in order to discover which demographic is more receptive to each of the three ads. Some of this information is already quite apparent. For example, it is likely that a younger demographic will prefer hip-hop to opera music. Collecting more information on music preference as it relates to geographic location would be a good way for Samsung to determine how to distribute these ads in a way that they would reach a large portion of potential buyers. If one region shows a particular preference for Elvis, it would be a good strategy for Samsung to place the Elvis ads in that region in order to reach that target audience.

Just as we modify our speech to suit a particular audience, ads too should be modified to reach specific populations. There is evidence that shows that there are population clusters based on similarities. Advertising companies can be very strategic and intelligent about what audience will see their ad and what message that audience will take away from it.




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