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Image Analysis Essay

In: English and Literature

Submitted By poohbear1722
Words 1077
Pages 5
Shocking but Effective:
Techniques Used by Awareness Campaigns

Images are everywhere in the media. We see commercials, billboards, magazine advertisements and more every day. Eventually, people stop paying attention to what the ads are saying and what they are selling or promoting. Commercials start to mush together in unimportance as we wait for our TV shows to return. Billboards blur into each other as we see the same messages portrayed over and over. This challenges advertising companies to come up with catchier slogans, more comical commercials or images, anything to get people to snap out of it and pay attention to what they have to say. This particular image is an underwater advertisement seen clearly through the water. It is an advertisement for the Watch Around Water campaign in Australia promoting the supervision of children at public pools. The background is blue in order to blend in with the water and to look like water as well. There is a white boy wearing swim trunks face-down on top of the blue, sprawled across the advertisement. It is apparent that he is a drowned child. On the bottom of the image, partially covered by the dead child’s foot are the words “Where’s Your Child?” Under this is the logo for the Watch Around Water campaign. The ad makes it personally when it asks “Where’s Your Child?” It further insinuates the question of “Are you watching them?” and makes the viewer feel responsible, as they should, for their child’s whereabouts. The purpose of the ad is to make parents hyper-aware of the location of their child at all times at a public pool. The “O” in the Watch Around Water logo contains the image of a big person and a little person reaching out to each other. This is clearly supposed to be a parent and child, and shows protectiveness. The parent is doing what they are supposed to do, staying close to their child around the water. On the Watch Around Water campaign’s website, it advises that children under five years old should never be more than an arm’s length away, and that the parent should never turn their back on the child, even momentarily. The “O” portrays the ideal parent/child situation around the water.
The angle of the ad is deliberate. The viewer is meant to look down into the pool at the ad and see the boy face-down. It’s meant to invoke shock and a little bit of fear. The position of the ad, underwater, is important in the message it is trying to convey. For example, this is not an ad on the wall by the pool or a flyer in the changing room; it is on the bottom of the pool. The child is life-size, making the image that much more intense and realistic. The message is for the parents; if you don’t pay attention to your child at the pool, he could end up like this kid—dead.
A similar example of extreme advertising involving a dead child happened in New Zealand a few years ago. Tons of posters were made with the horrifying image of a bloody little girl’s head smashed into a windshield. The windshield is shattered and the poster says “Please Don’t Speed Near Schools”. The people involved with this campaign took the posters and put them on parked cars, facing in. So when people got into their cars, they saw the disturbing image as if they had hit the child themselves. This method was unnerving, but in the long run probably effective. No one wants to see that image in real life, just like they don’t want to see their child at the bottom of the pool.
The approach to some awareness advertising seems harsh yet effective. The message definitely gets across to parents when they see an image like this one. It’s meant to scare parents into paying attention to their kids, but it’s possible that the shock-factor is taken a little too far. As this image indicates, the real child looking at the ad in the water looks afraid and disturbed. The message is supposed to be getting across to parents, but it is in plain view of young children as well. I know that when I was a child, seeing a picture of a dead boy at the bottom of a public pool would have freaked me out. This is not the intention of the underwater advertisement, but may be the subsequent outcome. Furthermore, personally if I were a mother and I saw this at a public pool, I would probably take my child and leave. The ad is disturbing and extreme, but it shocks parents into actually watching their kids and not relying on lifeguards to watch everyone.
The advertisement has an emotional appeal to parents, which connects in with the fear appeal it provides. It emotionally motivates them, through fear, to pay closer attention to their children. They are afraid that their children will end up like the dead child in the image, so they are extremely motivated to keep that from happening.
Some advertisements, like that for the Watch Around Water campaign, and that for the “Please Don’t Speed Near Schools” campaign, might take it too far in terms of making people pay attention. I wonder if the potential effectiveness is really worth the shock factor. It is also possible that effectiveness upon seeing the ad is not the company’s only goal. The shock makes the advertisements memorable so people talk about them and spread the word of the campaign. If the images were not so extreme, the message might not get across how they want it to. However, something that they seem to ignore is the negative effects the images can have on people, especially children. This is portrayed with the child looking at the underwater image, terrified of the dead body that is only a few feet from him. Children might no longer want to learn to swim or be in the pool. There are consequences that awareness campaigns fail to consider, or to see as important, when they are developing these strategies. The shock to children might not be worth the extremeness of an ad, however important its message may be.

Works Cited 1. Ambekar, Ashwini. "Different Types of Advertising Appeals." Articles Wave. 09 Jan. 2009. Web. 18 Feb. 2012. <http://www.articleswave.com/advertising-articles/types-of-advertising-appeals.html>.

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