The Evolution of National Consumer Television Advertising: A Focus Group Study on the Interpretations of TV Commercials
The focus of my research ts on television advertising because of America's obsession with it. Michael Crispin Miller wrote that, "TV, which was not only on the air, had become the very air we breath." Miller's assertion is the very reason why TV and it's commercials have become symbols of how society should be. It is through the medium of TV which our social and psychological ideals and values are shaped and developed, whether it be consciously or unconsciously. In the first section of this paper I will trace the evolution of television advertising from the 1940s to the present, 1997. From this "TV timeline", I will highlight the most influential events that have shaped television commercials into what we see today. In the second half of the paper, I will focus on some recent television advertisements and analyze their effects through small focus group discussions. Through these focus groups, I hoped to record discussions which stressed a semiotic analysis of advertisements. By this, I want to stress how meaning is not contained in the text but is generated in the individual's process of interpretation. My theory for this section is that different individuals interpret advertisements they view in different ways, such as women different than men. Moreover, through these focus groups I wanted to find out how different types of ads affect the reactions of individuals and whether or not ads do have the power to "play upon the brain" of a man or woman.