Jennifer Lawrence

Hypodermic Needle Theory – Lipstick Advertisement


Can a media text simply “brainwash” the audience into believing its message and then react according to the producer’s intention? Will this advertisement for Dior’s lipstick make us run down to our local store and buy the product? Or add it to the basket on our favourite shopping sites?

Dior Addict Campaign

Dior is a well-known French company which specialises in fashion and luxury goods. It was established in 1946 and its first range of clothing was met with immediate success. In order to maintain its relevance and market share, Dior creates important partnerships with celebrities and social media influencers. In 2015, Jennifer Lawrence became an ambassador for the brand. With her populist image and contemporary style, the actress was employed to help the company target the millennial psychographic.

Peter Phillips, a Creative and Image Director for Dior’s products, was behind the development of the Addict range and this particular campaign. The shot was taken by the fashion photographer, Craig McDean, whose work regularly features in the most-respected magazines.


Analyse the following print advertisement in terms of audience and the hypodermic needle theory.

Jennifer Lawrence promoting Dior
Dior Advertisement

Points to Consider

Critics of the hypodermic needle theory will argue that plenty of these lipsticks will remain on the shelves because the audience are not passive consumers of the media. We are much more sophisticated and active than this model suggests.

However, this immediacy argument ignores the actual purpose of the print advertisement. Marketing teams are not expecting us to rush out and buy whatever it is they are selling. They are trying to develop brand awareness so, when are looking to purchase a glossy lipstick, we will remember the glamour and beauty of this celebrity and decide to pick their product. In this way, does the Dior advertisement succeed in “injecting” their message into the reader?

Semiotic Analysis

To what extent does the print advertisement constructs its meaning through important signifiers? For example, why is the main character holding the lipstick upright and between her fingers? What is the visual metaphor? How is that interpretation reinforced by the product line “Dior Addict”? Try to explain your ideas by using the key terms from Roland Barthes and his sign theory.

How does the ad create a tremendous sense of style and classic elegance? Think about the pink dress, the makeup, the hair and the positioning of her leg. How do these denotations link to gender stereotypes? Look at the colour codes.

Comment on the choice of chair, especially its colour and how it works with character’s dress. In other words, how does it connect with the actual product?

You should also consider the use of celebrity endorsement, including the two-step flow theory of communication. Why did the producers choose Jennifer Lawrence to promote the product?

Further Reading

Thanks for reading!