Symbolism in Advertising

Advertising is an excellent mixture of a visually stunning compilation of hidden motives, buying psychology and ultimately, communication. The primary purpose of this is to attract people, and for keeping them lined up about the product, and finally establishing brand loyalty. If you try to look at how marketing works, it’s about being able to tell result-oriented, action-packed, colorful, visual, and persuasive stories. This is the main reason why advertising is considered as one of the most intimidating yet intimate and delicate industry.

In this article, we have mentioned the integration of symbolism in advertising. Symbolism, in its rights, are visual representations of familiar communication imagery. Being able to see a bold, fiery, red heart in a billboard will plant the idea of love and romance in your mind. Since 60% of people all around the world rely on visual learning, it is crucial to use graphic illustrations to convey a message effectively. The same goes for advertising. In this modern world of competition and emerging industries, advertising is an investment every entrepreneur needs to choose wisely. We’ll look at the advertising stints that marked the world’s impression and how symbolism played a part in its success, or failure.

The 1960’s Marlboro Man

Advertising tends to target the majority of their target market. In research, people who smoke got their motivation from daily stress, peer pressure, escapism, and the need to satisfy the “seemingly-dominant male ego.” This information played a crucial role in the determination of advertising medium the Marlboro invested.

Throughout the whole frenzy of printed media, this iconic Marlboro man represented masculine entities all around the world that is searching for relief in a tiring day’s work. This advertisement was from the era of wild of cowboy dreams, tangled ego, and oozing pheromones. Hence, this man becomes the symbol of what a man should be, and how a man should feel when he smokes a stick of Marlboro cigarette.

“Save Paper, Save Planet” campaign brought by WWF

In the brink of the controversy about climate change and its adverse effects to humanity, the World Wildlife Fund brought to life tissue dispensers that strike an impactful message to everyone. On its surface, you’ll see a continent, green and beaming with life. With every pull of a tissue (a paper product derived from deforestation), the once green continent turns into an area of vast nothingness. This area is represented by the color black, which symbolizes death. On the top of the tissue dispensers, you’ll read, “save paper, save the planet.”

The “Like” button

Social media has been a powerful tool for communication and spreading awareness. Several groups that have specific advocacies air out issues and concerns to motivate people to act and help in a particular cause. Under thought and heart-provoking images, the slogan, “Be a volunteer. Change a life” is written. In the pictures, you’ll notice an overwhelming amount of thumbs, making the ‘like’ symbol. In this generation, earning likes seems more of a necessity rather than being an authentic human being. With these advertising stints, the “like” symbol rendered to be useless and helpless (as it is in the real world). Instead, the actual action is needed to help people with their adversities that needs attention not likes.

Predators living in your smartphone

It has been noted that several dangers are lurking behind the entertaining, bright, and enticing world of smartphones and the internet. Parents all over the world are baffled about the idea of how their children can be a target of a crime. Little did they know that these predators are prying on their children on their phones. In this image, you’ll notice a hand reaching out on a kid’s behind. Since children spend all their time toying with their phones, social media apps, and games, it is crucial for parents to monitor their activities. They must not allow them to engage conversations with strangers that they meet online.

All White Panel

A bold statement and an all-white panel tend to gravitate towards the message of the advertisement. The color white symbolizes a new canvas, a beginning, or hope. However, at times, it can be interpreted as nothingness or space. In a slogan provided by, under the seemingly crumpled piece of white paper is an unattended child. The black letters of the advertisement worded out, “neglected children are made to feel invincible.” Children who will later become the future of society needs the best upbringing and guidance during childhood. If neglected, they become lost, wayward, and will become unlawful citizens of the country. It is mentioned as well that neglecting a child is a form of child abuse.

Another person’s trash is another man’s treasure

A trash can is all too known for its contents, trash. Since trash is known to be useless, dirty, and disgusting, with no use. Waste is certainly not ideal or can be used do anything with it after a while or if it is damaged. However, an advertisement changed this perception. The number of homeless people kept growing and growing, and various organizations rely on donations to make them fed. In the ad, you can see a fork and spoon with the trash can’s opening as the plate. For the homeless, the trash can is a pit of a meal or none at all.

A Strong Punch

Fistfights are known to be the earliest form of violence recorded in mankind. Until now, seeing a man bringing his fists to bout is an indication that violent things will occur. In an advertisement printed by Ecovia, a fist slamming unto the man’s face can be seen. The fist is adorned with a tattoo of a pick-up truck, slamming to the face of a man with a red car painted on his face. This is a resemblance to the violence one driver brings to another person when he drinks and drives.

The Horrifying Shark

Along with the popular franchise of the Jaws (shark-infested movies) the printed ads released by World Wildlife Fund, starred a shark’s fin above the water, with a slogan reading, “horrifying.” On the next page, the shark’s fin, visibly gone, read, “more horrifying.” Every species in this world accounts for the thriving eco-system all people enjoy. Without it, the Earth faces the inevitable race to extinction.

Turn of a Page

Trees are known to be the main component for the production of paper. A magazine in China pointed out the devastating result of paper production to trees, and wildlife in its entirety. Cleverly, the flip page resembles a tree being cut for every turn of a page.

Each minute counts

A clock symbolizes time and its passing. In this truth-provoking ad, an extinct animal is on the brink of being wiped out as the minute hand turn past 12. This symbolizes the campaign’s message that every species dies in 60 seconds.