Our Environment

We have spent plenty of time looking at the influences the characters from Of Mice and Men have on their environment, and equally how the environment influences their thoughts and actions. Its worth investigating whether the same thing operates in your environment. Our look at artefacts such as Beats headphones showed us that certain artefacts do have an impact on the environment. One of the more pervasive (spreading widely throughout an area) features of many communities is advertising. This aspect of the environment is also said to have quite an influence on the individuals who inhabit a particular environment

Start by reading a little on the background of advertising here. Take a few notes on the key ideas.

Once you have done that, read about the different types of advertising. Take notes on each of these types. Then locate examples of each of these types of advertising. Try searching for you favourite brands and the word “advertisement”.

Describing What I’m Seeing

  • objectification
  • commodification
  • sexualisation
  • naturalisation
  • anaesthetise
  • ethos
  • pathos
  • logos
  • eroticism of violence
  • denotation
  • connotation

Take some time to define these terms. Improve your google ninja skills by using the “site:.edu” search term.

What do I see? What does it mean

Look at the following images. What do you see? What do you understand by someone who uses the artifact or the setting in which it is found?



Here we are talking about connotation and denotation. Denotation is the literal or primary meaning of an artifact or sign. The first sign above denotes high voltage; the sign is designed to inform you that high voltage is present in the area. However, the sign connotes danger. You as the audience are encouraged to be more careful in this environment.

Ethos Pathos Logos

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

Ethos is appeal based on the character of the speaker. An ethos-driven document relies on the reputation of the author.

Logos is appeal based on logic or reason. Documents distributed by companies or corporations are logos-driven. Scholarly documents are also often logos-driven.

Pathos is appeal based on emotion.

Task: In pairs take one advertisement. 

  1. Check the response to Denotation/Connotation
  2. Decide on ethos/logos/pathos. What makes you say that?


  • The earth is flat.
  • The earth revolves around the sun.
  • All metals could be turned into gold.

A quick look at the ingredients list shows a gap between what the advertisement would have you believe and the reality of the product:

Lays Chip Ingredients: Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (Contains One or More of the Following: Corn, Cottonseed, or Sunflower Oil), Lactose, Salt, Sodium Diacetate, Maltodextrin, Malic Acid, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, and Sodium Citrate.

Task: Find an advertisement that features Ethos, Logos or Pathos. Describe the appeal. What other elements of the advertisement help support this appeal.

How is truth question in the advertisement? What would the makers have you believe?

So Much Noise

One of the by-products of the advertising industry, is the volume of visual “noise” we have to deal with. You don’t have to look too carefully, to realise we are constantly engaged with advertisements. Look around the room at how much branding there is!

Times square is an exceptional example of hyper-advertising. Image: ‘You Will Never Forget.

One of the five forms of advertising you investigated earlier was covert advertising. This is when products are placed in conspicuous places in films or television programs. They usually don’t explicitly mention the product, but show celebrity’s using the product and painting it in favourable light.

What  is this picture telling you?

Even music videos are full of product placement. Look at LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It”.

Download at school (copy this path into your browser to download) W:\Students\M5English (for the class activity)

Watch on Youtube (if you are at home)

Task: How many products are being advertised in this music video? How many times? (eg. Beats headphones show up more than once)

Task: How does the volume of advertising affect our environment? Write a response.

Our Expectations

Picture in your mind an average, healthy, “normal” human being. What are our expectations regarding this person? How does she act? What does she think? What does he look like?

Under two headings describe the person in you mind:

  • Beliefs, hopes and actions (treatment of others; what is ‘good’ in the world?; ideals)
  • Physical (what constitutes healthy?)

Now look at the advertisements on the board. What messages are sent through these images? Compare them to your list?

Our Environment

As a member of the environment, we are changed by and can change the environment around us. Consider George and Lenny in their environment. They were changed by the pressures around them but also attempted to change the environment to make it a better place. Unfortunately they were not so successful.

Consider your findings to the “Our Expectations” activity? How are the advertisements changing (the posh word is shaping) you? Another way to think of this is the educational effect.

As an example alongside other descriptions on connotation, denotation, ethos, pathos and logos:

(Using the coke advertisement above) Broadly speaking, the advertisement educates the reader to think that diet coke is a fresh beverage by associating it with a fresh fruit. More specifically, freshly squeezed juices have healthy connotations and therefore, by depicting diet coke as a lemon, the viewer is encouraged to believe that diet coke is also a health product. This obviously has a negative effect on society as diet coke is not a healthy product to be consuming as frequently  as fruit juice. 

Task: Take one of the advertisements you bought into class and write atleast one paragraph on the educational effect.

One Response to “Our Environment”

  1. Stretchy Bracelets February 11, 2013 at 7:25 AM #

    Valuable information. Fortunate me I found your site accidentally, and I am surprised why this twist of fate did not happened in advance! I bookmarked it.

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