Project- Rhetoric of the image…..BLOG questions…

Make brief notes on two or three advertising images you find in your everyday life.


Fig. 1 Martin Miller’s Gin (2017)

Scan 1 (2)

This is a glossy advert for Martin Miller’s Gin, and contains a lot of information

The linguistic messages include

  • The concept of Spirit, Romance and Adventure
  • It is the most awarded Gin in the world, so it’s good quality
  • It’s distilled in England and blended in Iceland
  • The brand name is Martin Miller’s
  • The text helps to anchor our interpretation of the images (Barthes, 1999: p. 37) – especially how we view the couple, as this could have many stories behind it. The one we are led to understand relates to the qualities of the Gin.

Amongst the denoted messages are

  • A glamorous man and woman in evening dress (photo)-The man eyes up the woman, who looks at either the Gin or us or both
  • A bottle of gin (photo)
  • The flags of Iceland and England ( computer graphic)
  • Gold medals received by the Brand (computer graphic).
  • A map of both countries printed on the bottle and the route of a ship voyaging between England and Iceland (graphic).

To understand these denoted messages (messages without a code) the viewer needs to know that an image represents a real-life concept.  We learn this early, at around 4 years old(Barthes, 1999: p 36).

The connoted message

The symbolic messages are numerous and include

  • The Brand name Martin Miller’s Gin contains both Alliteration (the repeated ‘M’ consonant) and Assonance (the repeated ‘I’ vowel) which helps us to remember and say the Brand name.
  • Martin Miller denotes a man, and is probably alluding to a sailor.
  • The deep navy blue in the label is symbolizing the British Navy (and perhaps in a subsidiary role, the Navy/Blue of the Icelandic flag)
  • The silver in the label and its cleanliness may symbolize English (or UK) manufacturing (eg manufactured metals) and the British Industrial Revolution , where we led the world in the 17-1800’s. It may also symbolize the cool, sharp, freshness of Iceland.
  • The connotation of the British Navy also symbolizes Britain’s dominance of the world, led by its Navy, in the centuries of c. 1500-1850 (including both British Trading, British success in War, and of course  British Imperialism)
  • The lines in the picture are clean and straight
  • the bottle has clean straight lines and looks like a ship (viewed from above)
  • The colourless glass gives a sense of the pure transparent clean water which surrounds the sea and which can be navigated by your adventurous self

The overall message is that drinking this Brand of gin makes you

  • sophisticated and attractive
  • attractive to the opposite sex
  • Patriotic and a lover of the UK (or Iceland?)
  • Someone who is brave and adventurous
  • Someone who is powerful and world famous
  • Someone who is hard working and industrious
  • Someone who likes a quality product

Fig. 2  Whitecapltd (2017)


This advert has some similarity to the previous one. It is requesting a sponsor for a round the world yacht race, and recalls the Romantic notion of English Empire and world domination.

The linguistic message includes:

  • This is a job advertisement for a vacant situation- a  ‘British Maritime Hero’.
  • The successful candidate will be outstanding and courageous and will restore Britain’s naval reputation
  • There is a need for a British Sponsor to ensure a British winner
  • The last British winner was in 1969, and the French have won ever since!!!
  • Duty calls you, the viewer
  • England has expectation of the viewer
  • The last two words are quoted directly from Admiral Nelson at  the battle of TRAFALGAR that ‘England expects every man will do his duty’ (Aboutnelson, nd)
  • It’s time Britain ruled the waves again

The denoted message

  • We have a portrait of Admiral Nelson
  • Playfully juxtaposed into a ‘modern’ job advert
  • There is a symbol of a globe, representing the world.

The connoted message

The sponsor will be

  • like Nelson- brave, skilful, and saviour of the British Empire
  • will restore Britain’s reputation in the world (Nelson was iconic in saving the day for Britain (against Napolean at the battle of Trafalgar)
  • will feel a patriotism and sense of duty
  • will help establish a great British Empire again (including all that Imperialism, colonialism, slavery and murder???)

This is certainly an advert with its tongue in its cheek, but uses strong symbolism relating to the Great British Empire. It is designed to appeal to the nationalistic feelings of any potential sponsor.



Fig. 1 Martin Miller’s Gin (2017) Romance and Adventure [advertisement] in Good Housekeeping June 2017 p. 186.

Fig. 2 Whitecapltd (2017) Vendee Globe 2020 ‘Admiral Nelson’ job advert [advertisement] in ‘The i’ Wed 3rd May 2017 p.51


Aboutnelson (2017) Admiral Lord Nelson and his Navy [online] at  %5Baccessed 6 May 2017]

Barthes, R (1999).  ‘Rhetoric of the Image’ in visual culture: a reader. Evans, J and Hall, S (eds.). London. SAGE Publications.   P33-41












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