Essay No. 1: Ad Analysis
Length: 1200 words;
(Please provide a word count at the end of your essay.)The draft must be complete and properly referenced and formatted, not in note or outline form.
If you do not arrive to class with a draft of your essay, five percent will be deducted
from the grade you receive for the assignment.
You must actively participate in the workshop to receive full marks.Analyse a print magazine advertisement of your choice, using as the basis of your discussion
Abraham Maslows hierarchy of needs as described in Kalats Introduction to Psychology (see
English 1204 Moodle page). The ad should be fairly recent, published within the past year.
Where to find your ad:
Look in a print magazine that you have at home. Perhaps a family member reads
magazines if you do not.
Do not use an ad found on the internet or one that has been discussed online or in a
published text. The analysis in this essay should be your own original work.
KPU library. If you do not normally purchase magazines, remember that the KPU library
subscribes to a variety of periodicals, including Rolling Stone (Langley campus) and Elle
(Richmond campus), which might be good sources for ads. There is a colour photocopier in the
KPU library, so you can attach a colour copy of the ad to your assignment when you hand it in. I
need to be able to see the ad clearly in order to mark your essay.
A Public Library. Public libraries often carry popular magazines that contain a lot of ads (e.g.
Mens Health, Mens Fitness, GQ, Cosmopolitan, and many more).
The Course Moodle Page. If you cannot locate an ad, you may choose one from our course
Moodle page. The Moodle page can be found at https://courses.kpu.ca The bibliographic
information for each ad (i.e. the magazine name, month, year, and page number) can also be
found in the list on the Moodle page. If you choose an ad from the Moodle site, you will need the
bibliographic information for your works cited page.
Not all ads lend themselves well to this assignment, so you will need to select your ad carefully,
keeping Maslows Hierarchy of Needs concept in mind. If you are unsure whether your ad is
suitable, consult with classmates and your instructor. Feel free to stop by my office during office
hours if you would like to discuss possible ad selections in advance.
In your analysis consider the following:
Which need(s) do you think the ad appeals to? (note: you do not have to write about
every need on Maslows hierarchy; choose the one or two that work best)
What does the ad suggest about who we are and what we value as a society?
Below are some suggestions on how to approach this assignment:
You should briefly explain Maslows theory of motivation so that the reader will understand the
concept (be sure to identify all five levels of needs) and introduce the ad you will be discussing:
who is the advertiser? what product is being sold? where did you find the ad? to whom is the ad
directed? At the end of your introductory paragraph, include a thesis statement that clearly states
your argument/what your paper will be about. Your thesis must connect the ad with Maslows
theory: you must state which need(s) your ad appeals to. (Remember too that you must reference
the information on Maslows hierarchy, using MLA format.)
Consider the features of the ad and determine what you think they reveal about our needs and
values. In your essay, be sure to describe specific features clearly and explain what you think
they mean. Remember that the claims you make in each paragraph must relate to the thesis
statement in your introduction. Use the present tense to discuss details of the ad. If you quote
from the ad, make sure your quotations are integrated smoothly. Since all the quotes from your
ad will be from the same page (or possibly two), you do not need to include the page number
with each quote.
Some things to consider (though you do not need to directly discuss each of these):
Types of images in the ad, relative size of images, position of images, use of colour, use
of light and dark, type of activity portrayed, symbolic value of any items, relationship
between images and text, meaning(s) of words that are used, size of words, position of
words, typeface, ideas expressed by the words, grammar of the text (e.g. fragments,
parallelism, rhyme, and so on). Things like peoples facial expressions, clothing,
hairstyle, or body position might be significant as well.
In your conclusion, be sure to reinforce the significance of your discussion. Try to answer the so
what? question. How do the things you have written about relate to broader concerns in the
world of the reader or the world as a whole? Does the ad accurately communicate something
important about our society? If so, is this message something good or something that should
motivate change in the future?
A Tip About Language: How to Discuss Appeals. Student writers often have difficulty
expressing in writing their ideas about Maslows hierarchy in relation to an ad and its audience.
We can say that an ad appeals to safety needs and esteem needs. In a different sense, we could
also say that a reader might find an ad or product appealing (i.e. interesting or desirable), but
this would be to use the word appeal as an adjective, not as a verb. To prevent confusion, it
might be best to use the word appeal only in relation to ideas on the hierarchy. Many other
words (e.g. interesting, attractive) can be used to indicate other types of ideas.
Another Tip About Language: How to Refer to the Source. Be careful not to confuse the
company that produced the product with the product or brand itself or with the advertising
company that likely produced the ad. See the sample student essay as well as the ad analysis
templates below for possible strategies. Remember, too, that the word company when used to
refer to a business is a singular collective noun: a company is an it not a they.
Organization of Ideas
Be sure to read the sections on Essay Guidelines, Essay Organization, Essay Development,
Quoting, Parenthetical Referencing, and Titles in your Selected Readings manual, page 125-136,
for information on how to organize and reference ideas in your essay.
If you are used to writing five-paragraph essays, you might be tempted to organize your
discussion according to three things (for example, type, images, and, perhaps, colour). However,
this organizational strategy is not very effective because it oversimplifies the way an ad
communicates. Type often works together with an image to express an idea and the two cannot
be separated so easily. Also, if both type and image express the same idea and you have used
separate paragraphs to discuss type and image, your paragraphs may contain unnecessary
A better strategy would be to begin with simpler, more obvious ideas and build up to ideas that
are more complex. Consider using transition words that indicate spatial relationships (e.g. above,
below, to the left, and so on). Be careful not to structure your whole essay around the readers
experience of reading the ad, commenting on what the reader looks at first, second, third, or
what the reader thinks or imagines. The details of the adnot the readershould be the focus of
your discussion. Perhaps use your first body paragraph to provide a general overview of what is
contained or depicted in the ad, along with discussion of some larger idea of what is significant
about the ad. Subsequent paragraphs can expand your argument and include more details from
Give your essay a title that identifies your subject matter and something about the theme of your
argument. Your Selected Readings manual provides some suggestions and guidelines as well as
examples. Two good examples from recent student essays include Old Spice: Smellf
Actualization and Sobieski Vodka: Self-Esteem in a Bottle.
Remember that the course Moodle page offers a sample student ad analysis essay to help you
understand how to approach this assignment. Be aware that the works cited page in the sample
are now out of date as we will be using the style guidelines described in the eighth edition of the
MLA Handbook, not the 7th edition. The ad discussed in the sample essay for Smartwater can
also be found on the course Moodle page.
Ad Analysis Templates
(These are suggestions only, possible strategies to avoid using too much language to refer to the reader
and his or her responses or to the company or brand name or advertiser. These templates are
offered for your use to adapt and fill in the blanks as you wish, and you do not need to reference anyone if
you use them.)
The ad features an image of/uses an image of _______ to illustrate/suggest _______.
The main feature in the ad is an image of _______.
The fact that ______ seems to indicate that _______.
The fact that _______ tells us that _______.
The reference to _______ suggests _______.
Of particular interest is _______.
_______ is described as _______, which suggests _______.
The image of _______ also bears comment.
Below the picture is a caption which reads _______.
Above the picture is the heading _______. In the centre of _______ is _______.
_______, a symbol of _______, is _______.
The image of _______ is ideally suited to express _______.
_______ helps to convey _______.
_______ may be interpreted as _________.
It is important to note/curious/ironic/significant that _______.
The reference to _______ implies _______.
The word/phrase/statement _______ suggests/emphasizes/reinforces _______.
The _______ in the picture appears to be _____, which suggests that/reinforces the idea that
Next to/below/above _______ is _______. To the left/right of _______ is _______.
Also noticeable is _______.
The ad suggests that _______.
Possible thesis statements: The ad appeals to _______ and _______ needs.
The ad appeals to the readers need(s) for _______ and _______.
Ad Analysis Essay: Works Cited Entries, MLA 8th edition
(adapted from the MLA Handbook, 8th edition, and MLA Style Centre, https://style.mla.org/)
Use the MLA template handout you received in class as a reference and write out the information
for whatever entry you might need for your works cited page.
Everyone will have a minimum of two entries: the magazine ad selected plus the Kalat text for
Maslows hierarchy of needs information.
Primary Source: Your Magazine Advertisement
A primary source is the main source or text that you are writing about. In this case, it will be an
MLA 7th edition format:
The Fitness Fragrance by Ralph Lauren. Advertisement. GQ Apr. 1997: 111-12. Print.
MLA 8th edition: When a source is untitled, provide a generic description of it, neither italicized
nor enclosed in quotation marks, in place of a title. Capitalize the first word of the description
and any proper nouns in it.
MLA 8th edition format:
Advertisement for the Fitness Fragrance by Ralph Lauren. GQ, Apr. 1997, pp. 111-112.
A Reminder about Sources/Avoiding Plagiarism
You are not required to do research for your first essay assignment, but if you do, remember that
any sources that you quote, paraphrase, or summarize in your essay must be properly referenced.
This means that you must name your source in two places: in the body of your essay and on the
works cited page. If you quote a source exactly, you must use quotation marks. If you put the
ideas into your own words, you must still identify the source by name and give a page number if
there is one. Sources must be referenced properly regardless of what kind of source you have
used: even a dictionary definition must be referenced.
Be advised that plagiarism is quite easy to detect, especially if it is from an online source. Any
assignments containing plagiarism will receive a grade of F (0 percent) and reported to the
Dean as per policy ST2. If you are not sure whether something should be referenced or how
you should reference it, ask your instructor for assistance.
Also, make sure that any sources you use are reliable and suitable for an academic essay.
Wikipedia is not considered a suitable academic source. Similarly, information you find in
personal blogs is not considered reliable or scholarly.
The KPU library website offers information about evaluating sources. See also your handbook,
A Canadian Writers Reference, page 383-385. Ask your instructor or a librarian to assist you if
you have any questions about sources.
If a magazine you are citing provides volume and issue numbers in addition to a date, include the
volume and issue numbers in the number slot and the date in the publication-date slot:
Jones, Mel. The Second Racial Wealth Gap. Washington Monthly, vol. 47, nos. 11-12, Nov.-
Dec. 2015, pp. 11-14.
Publication dates of sources may vary. The MLA Handbook, 8th edition, says you should write
the full date of the source as you find it. This means that if your magazine has a day of
publication in addition to a month and year, you should include it in the following order: day,
month (abbreviated), and year.
e.g. An advertisement for Jim Beam Bourbon, found in Rolling Stone, issue 1278-1279, January
12-26, 2017, page 17 would be written as follows:
Advertisement for Jim Beam bourbon. Rolling Stone, nos. 1278-79, 12-26 Jan. 2017, p. 17.
Secondary Source: A Book with Information about Maslows Hierarchy of Needs
A secondary source is any other kind of text or information that you draw on in order to present
your argument about the primary source. A secondary source can take a variety of forms: it could
be a book, an article, interview information, information you found in a website, and so on.
In this assignment, everyone will have at least one secondary source: James Kalats information
about Maslows hierarchy of needs theory. For the sake of practicing a book entry, cite this
information as if you saw it in the book that it was originally printed in and not as pages in a
Moodle posting. Here is what your entry should look like:
Kalat, James W. Introduction to Psychology. Wadsworth, 1986.
Did you use any website information in your essay?
If so, you will need to locate, according to the MLA template, whatever information is available
on the website.
If you are unsure about who the website publisher is, heres what the MLA Handbook, 8th
edition, says about publishers:
Websites are published by various kinds of organizations, including museums, libraries, and
universities and their departments. The publishers name can often be found in a copyright notice
at the bottom of the home page or on a page that gives information about the site. See the
following example of a website entry:
Harris, Charles Teenie. Woman in Paisley Shirt behind Counter in Record Store. Teenie Harris
Archive, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, teenie.cmoa.org/interactive/
A publishers name may be omitted for the following kinds of publications, either because the
publisher need not be given or because there is no publisher:
– a periodical (journal, magazine, newspaper)
– a work published by its author or editor
– a website whose title is essentially the same as the name of its publisher
– a website not involved in producing the works it makes available (e.g., a service for users
content like WordPress.com or YouTube, an archive like JSTOR or ProQuest). If the contents of
the site are organized into a whole, as the contents of YouTube, JSTOR, and ProQuest are, the
site is named earlier as a container, but it still does not qualify as a publisher of the source.
Did you use a dictionary definition in your essay?
Here is what the MLA Style Centre Q&A section says about dictionary entries:
Cite an entry in a print dictionary like a section of a larger work. Include the page number in the
Location element of the MLA style template:
Content. Merriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed., Merriam-Webster, 2003, p. 269.
To cite an entry in an online dictionary, consider the URL the location:
Content. Collegiate Dictionary. Merriam-Webster, 2016, unabridged.merriam-webster.com/
See page 42 of the MLA Handbook for guidelines on when its permissible to omit a publishers
name, as in the above example. Whether youve consulted an entry from a print or an electronic
dictionary, you can direct readers to the definition youre citing in a parenthetical reference:
(Content, def. 4.1.b)