Semiotics in Advertisement

A text is something that we can obviously read and interpret, that can we are woven out of words or even images. This is evident in the study of Semiotics, which is the science of signs, that allows an individual to make meaning from signs by the use of either words or images.

There are three things that can distinguish a sign, these include:

  1. The Sign, which is anything that conveys meaning from the text
  2. The Signifier, the things that give meaning to the word or image
  3. The Signified, which is what is evoked in the mind, or is the mental concept. This depends very heavily on the cultural context of the individual, like their belief structure and past experience that they have been exposed to


These three categories allow for a sign or image to create and resonate meaning within an individual and are constantly used around us. The whole idea of semiotics is very frequently used in the realm of advertisements through the use of signs or symbols. The use of certain techniques within advertisements allows the audience to take denotation and connotations from the source. Denotation is the literal meaning of the word and the obvious meaning conveyed, whereas the connotation is the feeling or reaction to the sign or image that the audience takes away from the experience.

I have picked an advertisement which I feel shows this very effectively. This Gucci ‘guilty’ advertisement for a guy’s Cologne.


This advertisement has quite a few semiotic connotations which are used in order to draw in an audience’s attention. For instance, the whole body language and facial expressions of the two individuals, especially with the man, link back to the title “guilty”. The black connotations and the use of shadows in this advertisements allows for a mysterious tone. Also the way that the two individuals are posed seems to have a power connotation, leaving the male figure in power of the female. Especially since the female is looking up at him with a dreamy expression. Overall this add would be pushing the idea that this product would increase the likeliness of a man to pick up a woman, and also lead them to believe that a woman would become instantly submissive and attracted when smelling the product.

In order for advertisements to be effective it’s a great idea to include either of the distinguishing signs as it allows the audience to unpack the meaning behind the message.


One thought on “Semiotics in Advertisement

  1. Hello, I found your post to be very explanatory of the concepts and yet also easy to read, a winning combination. Your chosen image is a great example of connotative messages and meanings. As you have discussed an interesting feature within the image are the use of shadows, a black backdrop and the word guilty in contrast to the woman lusting over him connoting a guilty pleasure which I can see as an effective way of marketing this product.


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