kit kit advertisement

Sign Categories in a Kit Kat Advertisement

Kit Kat

Charles Peirce was certainly an original thinker and his practical approach to understanding signs remains incredibly useful. However, you should read our introduction to his sign categories before you analyse this media text because the concepts are not straightforward.

Question

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

kit kit advertisement
Kit Kat Advertisement

Points to Consider

In his triadic model of communication, Peirce outlined the way a representamen would signal some of mental concept, or interpretant, that we then referred to the object of the sign. In other words, the physical form of the chocolate bars in this advertisement makes us think about Kit Kats in real life.

Consider this example: if you heard someone say Kit Kat (representamen), you would immediately picture the snack in your mind (interpretant) because you have seen them before (object).

Peirce’s classification of signs involves the relationships between these three points of communication.

Icons

An icon (representamen) actually resembles the thing (object) it is representing. The sticks of chocolate look like their real life counterparts so we could argue those signs are icons. Suggest why the producers were keen to include an image of the chocolate in the advertisement.

Indexes

An index has a more factual connection to its object. There are four pieces of chocolate, but someone has taken a bite out of each of them. Does the physical form of the signs then indicate that person? This signifier could be referring to the consumer, making the sign an index. What message are the producers of the text trying to encode with this indexical sign?

Symbols

By contrast, symbols have no physical or factual connection to the object. We only know the branding for Kit Kat signifies the chocolate because we learned that link existed. That is why the best advertisers get paid good money.

For more practice applying Peirce’s classifications to media texts, you should analyse the different signs in this social media advertisement or the use of icons, indexes and symbols in the “Moonlight” film poster.

Further Reading

Thanks for reading!