Elements of Semiology in the Ad of the United Colors of Benetton – Case Study Example

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The paper “ Elements of Semiology in the Ad of the United Colors of Benetton” is a well-turned variant of a  case study  on communication. Two children holding each other in embracing is the main depiction in this image. From the hairstyle of the two children, it signifies that they are probably girls. In addition to the children, there is the text in green the ‘ United Colors of Benetton. ’   The embrace of the two children could have been used to signify love or togetherness. The key to the image is that one appears to be smiling while the other one is gazing at something.

In every society, children are viewed as a universal symbol of value and every society aspires children to lead a quality life (Wells, 2007). Even though embrace is used as a common sign of affection, love and close relationship, this essay argues that the main purpose of using the image was to seek assistance and point to allude to the ideology of social inclusion. This essay is an analysis of the image. The analysis will start by defining the semiotic, the elements of elements, connotations, or denotations and then discuss the implications of the image paying particular attention to various dimensions such as culture and technical codes that are used to construct meaning. Semiotics entails the study of symbols, signs, and construction of meaning from the symbols and signs (Eco, 2006).

In semiotics, a sign can either be indexical, symbolic, or iconic. Semiotics is the theory of production and construction of meaning. In semiotics, the meaning of the image is deployed through the use of signs in relation to the other signs (Barthes, 1999).

The signs and symbols are used to form a system through which complex meaning can exist. Semiotics that relate to society can be specific to culture and community, it is through the cultural orientation and society that meaning can be constructed from the image. According to Leeuwan (2002), universal use of some symbols can be used to communicate messages that transcend specific culture to an interpretation that conforms to world culture. Texts are used in semiotics in reinforcing the meaning that is intended to be communicated.

Over the years, images have been used to advertise or convey information. Barthes (1999) defines semiotics as the study of signs and the manner in which signs are applied to construct meaning. According to Barthes (1999), a sign or image has two elements, an element of the signifier and the signified. Signifiers entail the image that we can see, for instance, in this image we can see two children holding each other close. The second element is the signified which entails what we construct or reconstruct in our mind based on seeing the image.

Leeuwan (2002) noted that a picture can tell a story, and each picture has its own story, similarly, in gaining meaning from an image there are two orders of signification which include connotation and denotation that form the basis of constructing meaning. Denotation entails the description and identification of the image; it is the process of recognition (Barthes, 1999). On the other hand, connotation as on the perception one acquires from an image or sign. It makes the basis of analysis as it transcends denotation and relies on finding facts to support what is perceived in the mind and or what society perceives (Barthes, 2002).    


Barthes, R. (1999). Elements of Semiology. London: Jonathan Cape. (Ed)

Eco, U. ( 2006). A theory of semiotics. Bloomington, IN Indiana University Press.

Gao, F. (2011). A new scheme of communication: An exploratory study of interactivity and multimedia use in Chinese j-blogs and the implications. Asian Journal of Communication, 21 (1), pp.65-68

Leeuwen, T (2000). Visual racism-the the semiotics of Racism: Approaches in critical discourse analysis. Vienna: Passage.

Milner, M. (2006). The politics of social justice: a visual-verbal analysis of poverty in news. Lancaster University.

Wells, K. (2007). Narratives of liberation and narratives of innocent suffering: The rhetorical uses of images of Iraqi children in the British press. Visual Communications, 6 (1), pp, 55- 71.

Wodak, R. (2006). Images: Mediating ideology in text and image. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

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