Since having a clearer idea of the direction of the project, I have started to notice other productions in various places in the media, some that make me unhappy and some that I think are slightly more positive. I believe the advert below is one of these, I have attempted to do a semiotic breakdown of the ad to find out why.
* The first thing I notice is that the central figure is female, in her early 20s, she has dark curly hair and is quite pretty, she is also white and of slim build.
* The video starts by showing us the main character on an empty stage, in a couple of shots ranging from 1 second to half a second they show her, the central female character, rising up, which insinuates she is practicing a performance piece of some kind. The shots move around capturing the girl from various angels.
* The video then moves on to show the female character practicing dance, or ballet. However the girl appears to keep falling over as if she is in the early stages of learning the dance.
* It is not until 40 seconds in (entire length of video is 1:59 seconds) that we see the reason why the girl is falling over a lot more than her other class members - she has one prosthetic leg. So the previous 40 seconds where all used building the story behind the character, they have shown the stage she gets to at the very start where she is on the stage. Then they almost go back in time showing you the stages she had to go through to build up to that level.
* After watching it over a few times I have noticed that her instructor is not white, and not male, but a black female. That means that so far there has been only women in the advert and other ethnic minorities other than white British. This gives the video a bit more of a genuine feel to it, and instantly a level of credibility.
* The video then moves on to build the characters story even more. We get to see her as a child, we know this because we see the girl looking into the mirror in a state of reflection, at the side of the mirror is a picture of a young girl in a ballet dress, we then conclude, because of the way she is looking at the mirror and moves her eyes over to the photo that it's of her. We are then instantly exposed to another side of the character, we feel that the girl has been training all her life to become a dancer and we understand her determination. From then onwards we are shown short clips, shot in the style of home video from the 1990s of the girl growing up and struggling with her amputated leg. The power and emotion this adds to the image is great, this storyline feels authentic, it doesn’t feel massively out of place with reality which again serves to draw in the viewer even more.
* The next 40 seconds are a combination of the opening shot with the girl practicing for a live performance, cut with her training and learning to dance in the first place and her as a child coping with her disability. The speed at which we see these scenes speeds up which builds up the feeling in the story, almost adding power to the story. We now see the girl working out in the gym, wearing different prosthetic limbs and straining showing how hard she is working to improve, whilst we assume her prosthetic limbs are improving, they start to look more leg like almost, more human.
* At 1:26 seconds we see the girl being congratulated by her female coach and her other class mates, which shows the viewer than her heard work is being rewarded. And as we know the end result, that she makes it to the live performance stage on the big stage.
* At 1:39 we see the first copy of the video, which tells us about Axa's work in helping develop prosthetics but more specifically about research that they are funding. Which is overall quite positive and serves I believe to kind of sum up the story, or underline the story. The video then concludes by cutting in the logo of AXA into the image, chopping it between the camel character and the background. Then the rest of the colour comes in completely blocking out the image just leaving the logo behind.
* So far everything has been fairly positive about the ad, but there are a number of things about the ad which I think could be negative. The first thing is the girls profession or chosen life direction, Ballet. It fits the mould of super slim, delicate, beautiful, pink, girly connotations that I believe isn’t very good. Figure 2 is a still from another ad by pampers, again it shows the baby (we don’t know whether it is male or female) imitating the grown up female ballet dancer, this along with the colour scheme leads us to believe that baby is female, other shots in the ad then show men doing other things, like being an academic or scientist, and then exploring, they have blue colours. So this then leads the viewer into a comfortable stereotype that this ad is perpetuating. Maybe the AXA isn’t doing this quite so much because there are no male parallels, but still, the female character is wanting to be a football player, she is doing something that is considered very female. In actuality ballet dancing is incredibly tough, takes incredible amounts of mental and physical strength to get to a good level which this video shows. Its just the fact that they have shown a profession that fits nicely into the ‘female’ bracket. This is the one negative about this advert.
* The music is the final defining factor and actually one of the biggest contributing things for me that make it successful. Without it I am uninterested in the video, and feel very much sprat from it. The music draws me in, the rising of the rhythm at key parts connects me emotionally to the story where previously, as a someone who is uninterested in dance I was not. It helps so much with the communication of the piece transforming it from something I have nothing in common with to being totally invested in it and wanting to see it again. The video does enough in the positive areas so that the negative things about perpetuating female body types don’t come though quite so badly.