“All Can Achieve Beauty” : A Diachronic Multimodal Text Analysis of Skin Care Advertisements 1920-2013

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Engelska institutionen

Abstract: Advertisements are multimodal texts created to get attention from potential customers in order to sell products. Previous research has shown how advertisements’ visual and verbal features make up ideological codes that are used to affect readers. To interpret these codes and gain an understanding of advertisements as communicative artifacts, a linguistic approach needs to be merged with a multimodal approach. In this study systemic functional grammar and multimodal semiotics are applied to ten skin care advertisements by Elizabeth Arden from 1920-2013. The aim is to investigate how the relationship between skin care companies and their potential customers is constructed through the use of language and images in skin care advertisements. Furthermore, the study aims to analyze whether and how the relationship between skin care companies and customers change over time. The findings indicate that the reader is constructed as unequal to Elizabeth Arden. The results also show a longitudinal difference in that the reader and the writer are constructed as closer in earlier advertisements and more distant in later advertisements. The language is also less demanding in recent years. Furthermore, the findings show that later skin care advertisements, unlike earlier advertisements, refer to science. The change might be an indication that societal and consumer values are evolving. Hence, the result might reflect societal changes.

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