Friday, 15 May 2009


Odo-Ro-No Advertisement Analysis

Woman’s Illustrated

Vol, XLVI—No. 1173 – April 25th 1959 


This advertisement is for a deodorant. It is in a vintage Woman’s Illustrated magazine that was aimed at the housewife of the family. It is a very domestic publication that talks about the home, crafts and short simple stories.

The product Odo-Ro-No is denoted as being a deodorant, something that prevents one from smelling of body odour. Many of the terms used all have to do with staying clean for example: fresh, anti-perspirant and perfume. They are literal words.

There are plenty of connotations, mostly negative to help sway the consumer to buy their product. Firstly, in the subtitle there is the sentence “Are you fooling yourself about the deodorant you use?” The word fool is very powerful because it can have many meanings that evoke unpleasant ideas. When one uses the word fool people associate things such as clowns, jesters and dunces with it. A fool is a person who is perceived as gullible and stupid. If there were one thing a person would hate, it would be to start wondering if they smelled bad or, even worse, not realise it and be laughed at behind their back. Other strong words are worst enemy. Worst is completely negative, it is used to make the consumer remember bad things and the feelings of embarrassment or shame associated with that event. The consumer may want to avoid a repeat of the incident and buy the deodorant. Enemy would, in most cases, make the face of a foe pop up in the readers mind and a hypothetical scenario could follow of the rival talking shit. Embarrassing implies awkward situations in which the person is the object of negative focus.

Positive words act as solutions to the (above mentioned) problems. Fresh is a beautiful adjective, which makes one think of waterfalls, nature and cleanliness—why wouldn’t you want to smell like that? To protect means to secure and keep something safe, in this context we are protecting our self-esteem / image and is in direct contrast to enemy. This probably was deliberately used so the consumer would feel that everything is safe when you use Odo-Ro-No. Comfortable and delightful are what one always hopes to feel and is associated with being happy and relaxed.

In regard to technical codes this advertisement is nowhere near as sophisticated as the advertisements of today. This was because technology in 1959 was limited. Firstly, they only had manual cameras and had to process the film in a dark room, therefore the editing was also limited. Secondly the media in which to show the advertisement was also restricted: they could either print in a magazine or newspaper or, perhaps, document the advertisement on television.

With codes of content, the advertisement has a distinct style that conveys the message so strongly one would have to be stupid not to notice it. The whole thing is aimed at the 1950’s housewife, so naturally that is the idea they’ve gone for. We have a well-groomed woman who is theatrically pulling a shocked and horrified expression—very Desperate Housewife-esque. She is a bimbo and easier for the company to target. Society always reiterates the ideal woman, in this context a woman has to smell like a female putting pressure on them to achieve this to maintain the status quo within the community.

There isn’t any colour in this advertisement. This can be attributed to the fact that in 1959 the process probably would’ve been very expensive and complex therefore it was minimally employed. However they have used shades of grey in the half-tone imagery to add realism and dimension. The majority of the ad is white, the whole thing bordered by a thick black line. I feel this adds impact and really helps it to stand out from the other monotone pieces. By using less black, they’ve made the ad as friendly as possible. If it were mostly black with her shocked/horrified expression, the ad probably would look sinister as if it were from Psycho. Also notice the golden section and how everything is focused on the product images.

On the topic of Psycho this iconic movie may have inspired this advertisement campaign as it was released in 1960. The woman epitomises horror with her shocked expression at how dreadful body odour is without Odo-Ro-No. Her expression is an indexical sign because the viewer understands that she has experienced something traumatic even though it has no direct relation to the product. Makeup is another sign because the model is flawless with perfect skin and hair, so naturally deodorant would fit under this category.

Leave your comment

Leave your comment