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Animals in advertising - Bears
|Bears, irrespective of their colours, are mainly used
to impersonate strength, or power, or endurance. We find this symbology
in about 30 % of our samples.
In half of the other adverts (tell me, which fraction is that of the whole?) bears are not chosen because they are what they are, but because they live in a cold and harsh environment or also because of their sometimes humanlike posture.
In most of the other advertisements bears represent nature.
|©||first published: XI.2002, update VI.2006||Nederlands|
|I was surprised to learn how wide a range of products or services a bear is able to recommend : mineral water, airlines, drugs, vitamins, windows, cars, urban transport, printing paper, etc. Copy-writers seem to love them probably for the same reason why penguins are so popular. Bears have an expressive face, often stand on two feet and they touch a string because they act so human. And unlike penguins bears do facilitate some agreed upon thoughts in our minds. A bear is strength, or power, or Russia, or hibernation. In a word a bear is a better than average actor in an advertising campaign.|
|(1) 1991 - Your Russian partners are waiting. - airline||(2) 1993 - Union is strength. - packaging||(3) 1997 - Krijt vouches for you. - supplier for the graphic industries|
|If only there was some more material in the image banks. There clearly is a shortage on the market. It's the first time that we notice the same shots coming back for different brands. That is a lucky coïncidence because it learns us a bit how a picture works.|
|An image may be worth a thousand words, but this lot indicates that the message emitted isn't unequivocal unless you specify it in words. Look f.e. at the first two adverts (1, 2). The image s.s. in my opinion radiates care, trust, love where one animal is comforted by the other. Look at the text (1) and you know that it's wrong (even naïve, you can't outsmart a copy writer) to read the image that way. Gone are the bears. Here comes Russia. Gone is the protection. We are at the same level, we talk partnership. And without anybody noticing a huge problem arises. So we are talking partnership between a Russian and another player. The Russian player is represented by a bear. Then, where is the partner from abroad ? There is none left; the image is blown up by the text. The text of advert (2) - United we stand - stays much closer to what we see and is therefore much more solid.|
|(4) 1993 - the automatic attraction. - wrist watch||(5) 1999 - Alert wakeup; Avoid dependence. - sleeping-pills||(6) 199? - Help us to save the Pyrenean bear. - mineral water|
Let's have a look at couple (3)-(6). I see a mother
with children initiating all the usual sweet feelings. The advert for the
mineral water (6) doesn't add any caption. The image is rightly used as is
and acts as a catalyst. (note: the design of the advert may be fine, but I've
still some words to say about the campaign [Illustration 3])
The designer of ad (3) uses the same image - still radiating caring motherhood - to transfer strength. He clearly thinks that the accompanying
text defines which message an image transmits. That's often true, but not in this case.
Take a look at the trio (7), (8) and (9) before we fold
back to our subject. There is probably only one picture in the world
showing a bear lying on his back. So three brands took it to impersonate to relax. Ad (7) was used several times for heating systems more
in a figurative way than the picture itself: Can you keep your peace
of mind with the winter closing in ? The link with a polar freeze
strengthens the message.
|(7) 1997 - Can you keep your peace of mind with the winter closing in? - central heating||(8) 1997 - I'm not afraid anymore for infections. - immuno-stimulant||(9) 2002 - It's natural to want to be comfortable. - airline lounges|
Bears are mainly used to impersonate strength, or power, or endurance. About a third of our samples fall in this category and most
relate to vitamin coctails or immunotherapy. Adverts of this type are quite
straightforward : see (10) - (13) and (26), (28).
The car ad (14) belongs also to this strength-group. The text follows the Universal Standard for Car Adverts (USCA - don't rush to your local library. I just made it up.).
The USCA green book says that
Notice that this is one of the very few (if any) advertisements where we can actually learn something about bears! Advert 28 also gives some information but it's clear that nobody took the effort to check the facts. We have more examples of car advertising: with Elephants (with minimal use of text, but still quite close to the book) and also several with Penguins.
|(10) 1992 - Strong as a bear - immuno-stimulant||(11) 1992 - B-V creates resistance. - immuno-stimulant||(12) 1993 - Strength becomes tenderness. Power gives protection. - immuno-stimulant|
|(13) 1997 - Tired! Empty! Exhausted! - tonic with vitamins||(14) 1998 - Ursus arctos. Normally you won't find such power behind the wheel. - terrain vehicle.|
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