•Producers of a media text encode ideas and messages within the text through representations. The aim of the producers of the text will be to communicate their ideology to the audience.
•Audiences then decode the messages and respond to them in different ways.
(In a similar way that an anchor limits the movement of a ship).
Anchorage limits the possible readings by selecting & controlling how information is decoded to direct the audience to the preferred reading.
1. Preferred reading
The audience accept the meaning encoded in the text and intended by the producer of the text. The audience which accepts the preferred meaning may be said to be complicit with the dominant hegemony. This is usually the case when the text reflects the ideas and opinions of the target audience.
2. Negotiated reading
The audience accept some of the messages encoded in the text and reject others. This may mean the way in which they are positioned in a film where they are asked to empathise with a character they do not like, yet they are enjoying the film generally. They may need to adjust their viewpoint in order to get the most out of the text.
3. Oppositional reading
The audience reject the messages encoded in the text. This may be because of a range of factors including cultural experience, age or gender.
Texts can be used by audiences to escape (or be diverted) from everyday life into another world created by the text and to gratify their need to be entertained. As many advertisements now are high budget and almost cinematic in their production values, they offer audiences escapism and entertainment.
Information & Education
Texts can be used by audiences for information or to learn about something (mediated of course). Frozen Planet gives its audience access to parts of the world they are highly unlikely to visit themselves. Some advertising campaigns will educate audiences and give them information.
Texts can be used by audiences to compare their own lives with the circumstances or narrative in the media text. Lifestyle magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Men’s Health feature ‘real-life stories’ where audiences can identify personally with the situation described.
Texts can be used by audiences to allow them to socially interact by talking to others about them. The X-Factor is a good example whereby audiences discuss the program the next day – ‘water-cooler’ television.
VALs (values, attitudes and lifestyles)
People who already have status and control and have nothing to prove. They prefer brands that are serious and reliable and believe that they deserve the best.
Want status and prefer brands that show their place in society. They are happy to live on credit and will buy items like designer labels. They are stylish and dynamic and may be persuaded by celebrity endorsement.
40% of the population. They like security, tried and trusted brands and like to think they belong to a group of like-minded people. They like value for money and are less likely to take risks.
Like to discover new things. They are attracted by brands that offer new experiences and instant results.
Defined by their self-esteem and self-fulfilment. They tend to be innovative and are less impressed by status. They are not materialistic and are socially aware. They may be more inclined to buy brands that are environmentally friendly or those that are considered healthy.
• A younger demographic.
• Aspirers who are aware of the Chanel brand but who may also have associated the other fragrances with an older woman.
• Fans of Keira Knightley who are persuaded by her endorsement of the product.
• Those who are attracted by the ideology of luxury, freedom and romance encoded in the adverts.
• Those who are positioned by the advertisements to feel aspirational about the lifestyle created by the campaign.
• Chanel released teasers to Chanel and Keira Knightley fan sites prior to the launch of the Chanel Coco Mademoiselle campaign creating anticipation. If the audience values the opinion leader then they will respond well to the text and to the product.
• Keira Knightley, as a spokesperson for the brand and a high profile celebrity, acts as an opinion leader. The audience associate her with the brand and therefore may be more likely to purchase the product.
• Men and women may also aspire to be like the models or with the models (a partner of similar attractiveness), achievable in their minds by buying the product.
• Diversion & entertainment
Viral and TV adverts
• Personal identity
Viral and TV adverts. The more diverse representation attracts a wider audience with more likelihood of female audience members being able to identify with them.
• Social interaction
The viral adverts are designed to operate on a peer-to-peer basis.
The audience may accept the preferred reading encoded by the makers of the text and aspire to the lifestyle constructed in the advert. This will tend to be the case for women. They will therefore buy the product to access some of the world that is presented to them.
2. Negotiated reading
The audience may have a negotiated reading of the text, accepting that the world is constructed but aware that the Chanel brand suggests sophistication and has connotations attached to the wearer.
3. Oppositional reading
An audience may not agree with the ideology contained within the advert and so have an oppositional response:
• Men may have an oppositional response
They may be positioned by the narrative to feel sympathy for the man in the advert who appears to be used and rejected by the female character.
• Parents had an oppositional response to the TV ad and its placement in the schedule. Their literal, active response was to complain to the ASA.
• One literal, active response was to complain to the ASA about the advertising.
• Men may buy the perfume for their partners because of their attraction to Keira Knightley.
• Another literal audience response was the discussion of the campaign on fan sites like Lachanelfile.com. Here direct response was available through the site and blogs.