Exercise: Targeting an audience, pt 1


(the two parts of this exercise are sufficiently unrelated that I am splitting them into two posts)

Try the Who-What-How approach for yourself by analysing at least three contemporary photographic advertising images. Choose any images you like – they don’t have to have a human subject as long as they reveal something about the human condition.

  • Who is the intended market for the product?
  • What are they selling?
  • How are they selling it to the customer?


BMW 7 Series


  • Who:
    • Men
    • Extremely high income: the 1% – those who don’t drive a car but are chauffeur-driven around (and: those who aspire to this)
    • Status-conscious
  • What:
    • Status, superiority, validation (ego-stroking)
    • Luxury, relaxation (you’re a stressed exec!)
    • Reassurance (award winning)
  • How:
    • Appellation (use of ‘you’ in headline) – you are ‘invited’ into the open car door
    • Association: nice expensive car, nice expensive house
    • Social differentiation (“you’re a BMW driver”)

Sofa Workshop


  • Who:
    • Women (more likely to be decision-makers)
    • Homemakers with more disposable income than average – less price conscious (price not mentioned, though the summer sale is)
  • What:
    • A lifestyle – stylish, tasteful, classic (e.g. stripped floorboards, retro phone)
  • How:
    • Appellation (use of ‘your’ in headline)
    • Social differentiation (pseudo-individualism)
    • Signifiers: retro phone = classic; photobook = arty etc

Bol Foods


  • Who:
    • Middle class females, higher than average income
    • Interested in self-improvement (health and fitness) but not necessarily cooking
  • What:
    • A ‘better version of yourself’
    • Idealised – healthy, fit, organised, tidy etc
  • How:
    • Identification / mis-recognition (“that could be me”)
    • Aspiration, but a more achievable kind than many ads: a tidy, airy, stylish kitchen, a nice view
    • Signifiers: staircase outside window resembles an upwards graph (= self-improvement); lots of houseplants = natural, healthy; yoga = balanced
    • Association: yoga is healthy, therefore this food is healthy
    • Practical: product packaging is more prominent than finished meal – and it even tells you where to look for it in the supermarket

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