This is a advertisement for Loaf furniture, torn from the Sunday Times Magazine of 7th January 2018, which I have marked-up with a black Sharpie to illustrate parts of this deconstruction.
For context, the majority of advertisements in the magazine are for high-value aspirational products or services: kitchen fitting, furniture, cruises etc. These are not day-to-day purchases – the majority of readers will not be interested in buying a sofa this week – but the advertiser must expect to do enough business to justify a £90,000 marketing expenditure.
To paraphrase Roland Barthes in ‘Rhetoric of the Image’, nothing in an advert is accidental. Everything is deliberately arranged to put across the advertisers’ message, explicitly or implicitly.
Although there is little text, it dominates the advert. The top half is taken up by apparently informal text.
(1) is the name/ logo ‘loaf’, displayed in lower-case joined-up script reminiscent of a primary school handwriting exercise. The effect is youthful and casual. There is also a visual pun – the logo can notionally be drawn in a single line, which echoes the single thread (8) at the base of the image.
(2a) is the immediate message. The advertisers have a sale (or at least claim they do). This text is bright red, an ‘advancing’ colour used to draw attention. The typeface is informal, reminiscent of a rapidly drawn, spur-of-the-moment sign. It is also intermediate in style between the logo above and the smaller text in the rest of the page.
(2b) is a text tagline, linked to 2b but in a more formal sans serif face. However, there is nothing formal about the message, “it’s loafing time…” which links the concept of leisure time with the advertisers’ name.
The text at the bottom of the page (3) is in the same sans serif typeface and contains more directed information. It tells us that the advertisers sell beds, sofas and other furniture – the hook ‘for loafers’ once again links the concept of leisure with a pun on the advertisers’ name. It also gives very limited contact information, describing the approximate location of three showrooms and the advertisers’ internet domain name. There is neither telephone number nor full address – it is assumed that customers will be sufficiently tech-savvy to find what they need online given this clue. This is a high-risk strategy (technophobes will shop elsewhere) but gives the target audience a sense of conspiracy, “We are young, modern and fun-loving – we want a Loaf sofa, and we know where to find it”
(4) The main image is a sofa with two people sitting on it, a child knitting and (probably) a young adult (parent or older sibling) reading a newspaper. The sofa appears large, but we must consider the possibility that this is an illusion created by employing petite models. The sofa is seen in a plain white environment, with no wall/floor line or other indications that it is in a room. We have a sense of ‘open space’ rather than the slightly claustrophobic impression of a large piece of furniture in a small room.
(5) The newspaper, with the masthead ‘Loaf Times’ (both referencing the advertiser and suggesting the social class of the reader) carries two notional headlines: “Secret knitter strikes” sets a context for the knitting child, causing us to wonder if he/she is the ‘secret knitter’ of the headline. “Britain casts off winter blues” suggests hope for better weather, the concept of spring cleaning (and by extension, redecoration or refurnishing) and also contains a knitting pun, linking to the ‘secret knitter’ theme. These are examples of relay text, rather than the anchorage of items 1-3.
(6) The scarf being knitted is red and white (definitely not ‘winter blue’), matching the sale text (2a) and also the adult’s socks (7), suggesting that they were a previous project. At this stage, having marked-up and scanned the image, I noticed the cable-knit trousers – a nice bit of Barthesian punctum. The connection between the two figures, and the various knitted items, is made by the loosely draped red thread (8), which also links to the lettering style of the logo (1)