Monday, April 28, 2008

Colors and people used in categories of advertising

Case study I: fear advertisements

Liu and Westmoreland found that "before" advertisements were generally darker, using shades of black and white, green and brown; in contrast, "after" advertisements used bright colors such as red, orange and yellow. The correlation between color and mood and attitude is clearly present in these ads, in which darker advertisements try to convey a problematic, sad or negative situation and brighter advertisements show the happiness and cheer that can be achieved once the problem has been solved.

Color choices can also correspond to levels of salience. Liu and Westmoreland note that "before" advertisements look somewhat bland, plain or dreary because of the use of neutral colors like black, white, brown and green. The bland colors give elements in the advertisement low salience because of the lack of contrast, and the problem is perceived as a whole, a completely undesirable situation. Brighter colors and the use of white space, on the other hand, can give elements more salience and the ad can more clearly focus on the bright attitude of the person that has been "cured."

Lastly, in "before and after" advertisements both dark and bright colors were used, though not as much as intermediate colors such as blue, purple and yellow. This selection of colors suggests balance between "before" and "after"--for every problem, there can be a solution.

Case study II: energy bar advertisements

The color swatches above were taken from 29 energy bar advertisements and loosely arranged by hue and brightness, showing the popularity of brown and blue tones. Brown was a popular choice as the color of chocolate, a common bar flavor, and in association with nature and health. Blue can also be associated with health, cleanliness and serenity, which appeals to lifestyle choices that energy bar users might make. Darker shades are more common, perhaps to emphasize the richness of flavor and nutrients energy bars provide.

Case study III: alcohol advertisements

In the sample of alcohol advertisements, red, black and blue were predominantly used. The bold, eye-catching reds were mostly an amber hue, the color of many of the products (whiskey and beer) themselves. Using the rich reds and ambers, advertisers could convey a sense of weight and even taste to the readers. Blue hues were mostly seen in in advertisements for clear liquors, such as vodka. Blues evoke a cool, clean, smooth sensation that vodka companies may want to associate with their products. Lastly, the use of black connotes the nightlife and sophistication in which alcohol may be consumed.

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