Canadian Journal of Communication Vol 38 (2013) 165-166
©2013 Canadian Journal of Communication Corporation 


Editorial

Media and Advertising


“Half the money spent on advertising is wasted,” the industry quip goes, “but nobody knows which half.” But other than a possible (half) waste of money, advertising also does a whole lot of other things. The problem is, nobody quite knows exactly what!

This issue of the CJC explores some of the more intangible questions of representation (race, gender) as well as how ads work as emotional cues, not to mention advertising’s usual rhetorical sins: lack of proof, vagueness, irrelevance, lying, and commodity fetishism.

More concretely, Pénélope Daignault, Stuart Soroka, and Thierry Giasson in their study of the emotive aspects of political advertising attempt to identify the short-term, attitudinal, physiological, and cognitive responses of individuals. Although these levels of measurement are fairly traditional ones in advertising studies, by focusing in more closely on the emotional resonances of advertising argumentation, the authors bring their work in line with the current emphasis on sentiment analysis.

For her part, Anne-Marie Kinahan, in a study of washing machine ads at the beginning of the past century, offers an analysis of visual address that hinges on racialized dichotomies. By contrasting a White woman with “Aunt Salina,” a Black washwoman, Kinahan shows how this campaign links Black women’s work to the pre-industrial while White women are connected to technological progress through their use of the “New Century” washer.

Fast-forwarding to current representations of women’s work, Karen Grandy, in a Research in Brief, analyzes the coverage of women executives in the top five Canadian business publications. Not surprisingly, Grandy finds women executives to be seriously under-represented in the business magazine profiles. She also finds significant differences in the characterization of the parenthood-career relationship for male and female executives.

 “Greenwashing”—the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a product—is the focus of Jennifer Budinsky and Susan Bryant’s examination of the powerful forces that align to create an advertising ideology reconciling capitalism and positive environmental outcomes. The principal means by which this reconciliation works are, they show, by tactics of deception (such as false health and safety reports). The article, through examining several campaigns, focuses also on what associations are made in the ads—to cleanliness, nature, safety—and their “sins of omission,” such as not considering life cycle of products.

Finally, and less on advertising per se than on underlying questions of media theory, Henry Svec turns to American folklorist and broadcaster Alan Lomax’s work as a long-time song collector and archivist and later collaborator with IBM and Apple. Svec deploys Lomax to critique the ideas of Friedrich Kittler, especially with regard to media obsolescence. Svec argues that what he calls Lomax’s “grainy digitality” subverts Kittler’s abstract, sovereign world of code with a more utopian assemblage of embodied voices and digital systems.

In a similar way, the articles in this issue of CJC subvert the “established codes” of advertising to reveal the grainy rhetoricality of their assemblages.

Michael Dorland, Carleton University


 



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