The Role of Advertising in the Promotion of Products and Services

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Thesis refers to the main theme or intention of a written work. In the case of Judith Williamson’s “Decoding Advertisements Ideology and Meaning in Advertising”, the main theme was to not only provide the meaning and understanding of the term “advertisement”, but also discuss the role played by ads in the promotion of products and services. In order to give the meaning of advertisements, Williamson decided to describe the two main features of an ad; the form and the content (Williamson, 1985). However, for the sake of analysis, Williamson replaced both “form and content” with the terms “signifier and signified” respectively.  

Based on Williamson’s analysis, a signifier is what is observable in an advertisement while “signified” is what the signifier intend to achieve (Williamson, 1985). For example, in an advertisement of a car, the design of the car is the signifier, while the high speed of the car is the signified. On this premise, the author aimed at showing that advertisements are meant at convincing potential customers in making “specific” interpretations, which may or may not be true (Williamson, 1985). The objective is to ensure that from the appeal made by an advertisement, a customer finally decides to purchase a product or a service. According to Williamson, advertisements achieve this goal by showing the difference between a product and another in the same category and by showing its value.

Key Terms

The key terms in this chapter include advertisements, signifier, and differentiation (Williamson, 1985). Advertisements are commercially produced messages intended to convince the public to buy products. A signifier is a symbol or anything used to show the value of a product or a service. Finally, differentiation refers to the uniqueness of services or product being advertised.

Question or Critique

The author failed to provide a direct answer to what advertisement means, thus leaving the reader to find it in this work. One of the questions that a reader of this chapter would ask is that by claiming that all ads are untrue and the true ones advertise unnecessary products, is the author of the view that there are no advertisements that provide the correct form and content of products or services?


Williamson, J. (1985). Decoding advertisements: Ideology and meaning in advertising. London:


December 12, 2023



Corporations Marketing

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Company Advertising

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