The relationship between the connotative and denotative meanings
In the recent Nike advertising campaign that was promoting new line of swimwear, the company uses print advertising, among the other means, to endorse its product. For the advertising like this to be effective and to appeal to the audience, it needs not only the visual image but also the meaning and non-linguistic signs behind it.
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Nike chose the picture of an athletic, well-built man wearing the swimwear produced by the company. However, it is only one layer of the conception. The denotation, in this context, is evident, and it implies that people who aspire to look like the man in the picture should choose Nike. Nevertheless, the connotative meaning is deeper. The man is pictured on the background of the industrial building in solemn gray colors, which make him look ready for challenges and almost heroic. The connotative meaning implies the ideals of heroism, challenge, masculinity, resistance; and the visual image attempts to awake such associations in the mind of the viewers.
The “encoded message” and “decoded message” in Nike campaign
The picture, in Nike print advertisement, is also accompanied by the advertising slogan. It is “Your Oxygen Fights Its Hydrogen”, and on the surface, it refers to the advertised product, the swimwear that is water resistant. The encoded message is the idea that the creators of a particular text or media tried to incorporate in their creation. In the case of Nike, it was the combination of the resistant clothes with the ideals of love for a challenge, resistance, and success represented by the visual image. The decoded message, in the Nike campaign, is the association of those features embodied in the photo with the qualities of the Nike swimwear. The invoked implication is that having the advertised product brings you closer to the ideal.
The ideological structures invoked on Nike campaign
The campaign conducted by Nike has two main ideological structures incorporated in it. The first one is the ideal of masculine beauty and athleticism, and it refers to body image. It is especially underlined by the fact that the viewer cannot exactly see the face of the model. The second ideological structure is the concept of success and overcoming the challenges. The solemn and deep, but not bright colors together with the angle of the shot looking upwards create the image of confidence, heroism, and masculinity. The pose of the model looks quite athletic, which also brings the attention back to sports, power, and love for a challenge.
The issues with the representation of the product in Nike campaign
The issue concerns a slight concealing the product is that, despite the fact that model in the picture wears swimming shorts and the necessary glasses and swimming hat, there is no immediate association with swimming. The dark and deep colors stand in a way of the recipients” perception of the product itself regardless of the strong visual image. The reality of the product is that it is an item of daily use for the people who go to the swimming pools. However, the campaign pays not enough attention to the routine nature of the product.
Gender/class or race stereotypes of the campaign
The only issue that can only be regarded a slightly stereotypical tendency among the sportswear manufacturers is the over-use of the ideal of masculinity. In this particular case, it is justified by the overall conception, but it still strikes as the trivial gender stereotype.