Starbucks Ideology Essay

1061 Words 4 Pages
While they may appear innocent or simply entertaining at a first glance, advertisements serve an ideological function. Ideology, by its nature, requires an individual’s participation, and thus advertisements can only operate under the active participation and interpretation by viewers (Goldman, 1992). By drawing on the existing values and beliefs present in society, ads invite viewers to exist within the meaning systems they create. They represent an attractive and ideal mythological world, and encourage viewers to buy into this utopia. In this paper, I analyze a Starbucks ad as an illustration of this process. I argue that by employing various signs and exploiting the power they hold in society, this ad for Starbucks works to maintain ideological …show more content…
The capitalist system is driven by the desire for profit, usually to the benefit of only a small number of powerful individuals. In order to maximize profits, companies will seek the most efficient and productive systems of production, which has led to the mass production of various kinds of cultural products. However, individuals like to feel as though they are unique and special persons, and thus companies must disguise these systems of mass production, and the products they produce, as unique and tailored to each individual consumer. As Williamson (1978) discussed, this economic system is how ideology functions; it relies on keeping individuals “fragmented” to maintain the “myth” of individuality (p. 53). This process manifests in advertising where “emphasis on individualism . . . reflects the social need for us to be kept separate” (Williamson, 1978, p. …show more content…
Unlike the one above it, the statement does not use the word ‘you’ to appeal directly to the viewer, but rather addresses them in a more implicit manner. Starbucks is perceived as both an artsy, trendy, and youthful scene, as well having a more professional, corporate image. Reading ‘taste of inspiration’, the statement acts as a sign operating within this established meaning system associated with Starbucks. It also operates under the assumption that the viewer is seeking to become a part of one of these groups. According to Goldman (1992), “modern advertising teaches us to consume, not the product, but its sign” (p. 19). No longer does one’s lifestyle affect the products they buy; rather, an individual’s identity is derived from the commodities they purchase, and their associated sign values (Goldman, 1992, p. 18). Therefore, the statement in the Starbucks advertisement reinforces ideological notions of individualism by encouraging viewers to engage in the consumption of Starbucks coffee as a commodity-sign in order to delineate their identity in

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