Assignment One: Going Green
From Signs of Life
Laurence Shames’ “The More Factor” (80)
James B. Twitchell’s “What We Are to Advertisers” (177)
Julia B. Corbett’s “A Faint Green Sell: Advertising and the Natural World (235) This piece is long so give it time!
Phyllis M. Japp and Debra K Japp’s “Purification through Simplification: Nature, the Good life, and Consumer Culture” (128) This piece is long and fairly complicated—again, give it some time.
Both Japp’s and Corbett’s essays will help you to formulate your paper
This assignment asks you to study advertising’s exploitation of environmentalism in order to sell products. Specifically, you are asked to select and examine the various ways advertising invokes environmental values and natural imagery. The assigned readings will help us to conduct a semiotic analysis of these ads–what do the images represented in the ad(s) suggest to you about the American culture at large or a specific segment of our culture? And to what extent can you identify and apply the techniques discussed in the readings to your ad analysis The one restriction is that you use CURRENT “green” advertisements.
Select a set of “Green” Advertisements (1-3) and then in a 900-1000 word essay address one of the following prompts:
Select a single CURRENT ad (or you may chose several) that uses nature as a backdrop, and conduct an in-depth analysis of it. As a critical framework, use the six reasons advertising can be “faint green” that Julia B. Corbett outlines in her essay. You do not have to apply all the reasons–you may choose the ones that you think most apply to your ad(s)
Again, select one or several CURRENT “green ads;” then adopting the perspective of Laurence Shames in “The More Factor” (80) write an essay in which you argue whether the “faint green” advertising Corbett describes is an expression of the American desire for more and discuss the extent to which these traits appear in the ad(s) you’ve selected.
Study one issue of a current travel magazine (maybe even tourism advertisements for Los Angeles or California), focusing on the advertising (or a selection of ads focusing on travel). To what extent is nature presented as “sublime” or as backdrop? (again, you are using Corbett here). Use your observations to demonstrate, refute, complicate the idea that presenting nature as “unproblematic” can have a dangerous effect on our environmental consciousness.
Write an analysis of the contradictions you find in (1-3) green marketing campaigns/advertisements that present the possession of consumer goods as ways to achieve the simple life. Consult both Japp and Japp’s “Purification through Simplification” (128) and Julia B. Corbett’s “A Faint Green Sell: Advertising and the natural World” (235) to develop your response.
For all four options: