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Sign Categories in a Facebook Advertisement

Zenreach

Advertising on Facebook and other social media platforms is an effective way to introduce your brand to a new audience and drive traffic to your website. Anyone can set up an account, design a campaign and deliver it straight into feeds around the world. You can target users according on their location, age, gender, and the information they provide in their profiles. These are known as Precise Interest Targeting campaigns.

If you own your own business, especially a bar or restaurant, and want to increase the number of repeat customers coming through your doors, Zenreach claimed they could help you make progress through their Smart WiFi marketing. For this particular example, you need to explore how they use signs to communicate that message to their specific audience through this Facebook Ad.

This essay-style response focuses on Charles Peirce’s three sign categories, so make sure you have read that guide before you begin.

Question

Analyse the following Facebook Ad in terms of Charles Peirce’s sign categories.

Zenreach Facebook Advert

Points to Consider

Charles Peirce separated signs into three categories according to their relationship with what they signified. An icon will have a close physical connection to its denotation and connotation. In this advertisement, the outline of the mobile phone, including the screen and home button, clearly represents a mobile phone. How does this signifier relate to the message?

What do the other icons, such as the image of the burger and the people rushing towards the mobile, add to the narrative? You need to offer your own interpretation of those signs. If the burger connotes a restaurant, does that make the sign indexical because there is a factual connection between the physical form and its meaning?

When you are analysing signs, you should always refer to their physical form and comment on what they signify. For instance, we know the three bold arcs are used to represent WiFi signals. That convention is obvious. Does this particular signifier have a physical resemblance to what it signifies? You could argue it looks a little like radio waves which makes the sign an index.

Peirce argued symbols have no physical connection to what they represent. The text “Happy Hour” is a good example of a symbol and you should explore its cultural meaning. If you have read our guide to Peirce’s sign-system and are confident in using its key terms, you could describe the mental concept being encoded in this particular representamen.

Finally, the “Sign Up” and “Like Page” symbols direct users to click a button on the screen. What are the producers hoping to achieve with these calls to action?

Further Study

It is not always that straightforward to identify if a sign is an icon, symbol or index. For more practice applying Peirce’s sign categories, you should try analysing the “Slumdog Millionaire” movie poster or any of the other media texts in our semiotics exam practice section.

Further Reading

Thanks for reading!