Theories Of Communication

Need a Cigarette?

They have been banned from television because their message was to influential to be seen by young adults throughout the country. Lawsuits have been fought against these companies for corrupting the mind of the youth and killing thousands of Americans each year. Their only place to reside, and advertise their product, is on the inside of magazine pages and on billboards nestled throughout the highways of America. What is the culprit of all this negative attention, cigarette ads. The specific add I am speaking of is found in the ESPN sports magazine, dated April 3, 2000. It is a Camel cigarettes add depicting a young man dressed in 1950 s attire, blue jeans, greases hair, and a white T-shirt, with the sleeves rolled up, containing a pack of camel cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve. The gentleman appears to be in his early twenties and he is lighting a cigarette with a Zippo lighter. Ironically, the young man has a pager on! There is no background to the picture, just the man lighting the cigarette, and above his head is the message, " Camel, Pleasure to burn". This advertisement, like all advertisements on television, in magazines, on the radio, and on the Internet, is a form of mass communication. Mass communication deals with the ability for companies to present their products to a wide variety of people by using one or more of the communication mediums stated before. Along with mass communication, there are 4 theories that are presented to each type of advertisement to explain who the advertisement is trying to influence or what the company to persuade the consumer to buy. The first of these four theories is the Uses and Gratification theory. The basic premise of this theory states that people use the media as gratification for needs and wants. Since there are millions of smokers, the Camel Company is simply showing a product that some people enjoy using, and they are also showing that it is accessible to the public. The company is supplying things that are desired by many, and then are relying on the wants and needs of those few that may actually need that nicotine fix! This theory is simple and straightforward, but it does not completely cover all aspects of the mass communication theories.

The second theory is the Propositions and Assumptions theory, which states that 1) the audience has needs and wants, 2) the audience is active and goal oriented, and 3) the audience has and makes choices between media and other sources of gratification. An explanation of this is that the audience makes the final choice of whether they are going to apply the media message to an aspect of their life, and make the choice to buy the product or not. Again in this theory there is the statement that the people have needs and wants, but it also states the importance that the people are goal oriented, which means that if the media message coincides with a goal of the consumer, then the product, in this case Camel cigarettes, will be attained by the appropriate party. The third part of this theory means that the people will choose a medium of mass communication, and then consider what decision is best for them. The medium for this cigarette advertisement are the pages of a popular sports magazine, which, will apply this media message to a mostly male audience, however, the ad applies to young men since the essence of the picture is a young man.

Although this theory has more information that applies to the advertisement, there are still some aspects that it does not cover, so similarly to the Uses and gratification theory; it is not the correct theory.

The next theory is the Cultural theory. This theory is an attempt to explain how the ruling class tries to impose the dominant ideologies or beliefs of the ruling class, on the working class. The dominant ideologies of this advertisement are aimed at trying to persuade young, white males to smoke Camel cigarettes. It also is stating that cigarette smoking is "cool" since the character is depicted as a classic star, such as, James Dean or Arthur Fonzarelli, also known as "The Fonz". Although this message describes a major portion of the advertisement, it only deals with one aspect of the ad and therefore cannot be the sufficient theory to explain the ad.

Finally, there is the cultivation theory, which focuses on the consequences of exposure to recurrent patterns of stories, images, and messages in the media on one s perception. In this case there is the recurrent theme of the "cool" guy, with his sleeves rolled up, smoking a cigarette. From the advertisement, one gets the idea that he is confident and good looking, and the fact that he has a pager on states that he is in some way important so that people will need to get in touch with him. The picture depicts the young man in great physical shape, without a blemish, and his James Dean demeanor allows him to take the form of a teen idol, which, allows him to attract a wide variety of young, white males, and also some females who find this character attractive. The second part of this theory states that the media shapes the people s view of reality. Smoking is a reality to everyone, so by placing it in a magazine the media is shaping a reality that is already known so that the message will be even easier to understand.

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