Media Studies Essay: Celebrities and Watch Ads

Here’s my first essay for Media Studies 10. It’s a detailed analysis of two print ads that we’re supposed to compare and contrast using concepts learned in class. I shortened the essay and split paragraphs into smaller chunks. Feel free to read all of it, some of it, or not at all. Enjoy!

Breitling aims to establish a message of absolute quality with its ad, which depicts a serious Travolta, in full aviator gear, sitting in front of his airplane and staring off into the sunset. Beneath this image is a large, bold font that reads, “Profession: Pilot | Career: Actor.” Breitling inserts a product description, a picture of its watch, and the Breitling logo and motto at the bottom of the ad.

The first signifier that catches readers’ attention is John Travolta himself. In people’s minds, Travolta is an accomplished actor, starring in famous films such as Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction. He is the essence of a “real” man – the provider, the tough guy, the alpha male. Travolta signifies these traits, and his presence lends credence to the idea that he can also be a successful pilot.

Going further, Breitling puts a pilot in the ad because the company wants to associate its watch as a product of the highest quality. Even pilots, who fly in tough environments and are always on the go, are able to wear a Breitling without any problems. In this case, the image of a pilot signifies absolute quality, sharing “all the finest hours of aeronautical history” (Breitling).

The name of Travolta’s plane, “Precisions Metal,” is another signifier that subtly suggests the excellent quality of Breitling watches. By looking at the Breitling watch displayed at the bottom of the ad, readers are immediately able to link the name of the plane with the metallic watch. Thus, this signifier again suggests that Breitling watches are of excellent quality.

By using Travolta to evoke feelings of masculine strength and stressing the precision needed for pilots, Breitling successfully targets its main audience: wealthy, middle-aged professional men who can afford and expect watches of the highest quality.

Breitling’s ad caters to the emotional side of these men. Instead of relying on facts and figures, the ad uses images that can be associated with strength and quality, excellent features to market a luxury watch. Therefore, the ad makes good use of affective economics, “marketing products based on emotions” (The Persuaders).

Likewise, Tissot uses a celebrity in its ad to associate different feelings. In contrast to the Brietling ad, the Tissot ad aims to convey a message of durability without sacrificing femininity.

Danica Patrick is an auto racing driver, the first woman to win an Indy car race. She is the perfect match for Tissot’s message of femininity in traditionally male-dominated categories – driving race cars and buying luxury watches.

The most prominent signifier in this ad is Patrick’s racing uniform. The uniform signifies a masculine ruggedness, much like Travolta’s wardrobe in the Breitling ad. This signifier gives the overall feel that Tissot watches for women are able to match the quality and durability of other luxury watches.

However, Patrick’s ring – a woman’s ring – stands in sharp contrast with her racing gear. The ring is a signifier that represents the feminine side of the celebrity. While Patrick is able to race with the men, she can still retain unique female characteristics that set her apart from the rest.

With this, Tissot wants to convey that its watches, while durable and rugged, are still designed with women in mind. As proof, the watch Patrick wears is a beautiful, sophisticated silver watch with a white band, signifying the feminine side of Patrick. It is not the usual dark variants of men’s watches seen in the Breitling ad.

In contrast to the image of the pilot staring off into the sunset in the Breitling ad, the image of Patrick’s confident stance and smile signify that she is able to comfortably tread the two worlds of ruggedness and femininity. This image conveys the message that Tissot’s watches for women are also able to appease the two aspects of quality and design for the successful, adult women audience that the ad is targeting.

As opposed to the wealthy, middle-aged men that the Breitling ad is targeting, the Tissot ad targets a younger generation of well-to-do women, women who may be familiar with and inspired by Patrick’s accomplishments on the racetrack.

Whereas Brietling’s ad focuses on a universally-known star with a rare hobby, Tissot’s ad emphasizes a less well-known celebrity in a sport that is enjoyed on a much wider scale. Thus, Tissot effectively reaches its audience of adult women who watch sports on television with their family.

Similar to Breitling, Tissot appeals to the emotional side of its target audience in this ad. The ad makes absolutely no mention of product features, instead employing affective economics with the image of Patrick and a bold statement, “A Woman’s Touch…in a Man’s World” (Tissot).

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One Response
  1. November 17, 2010

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