Visual Rhetoric–Daphneblake

The Signs | Friendship & Mental Health | Ad Council


The initial image on the screen is some sort of small animal, appearing to be a possum on a branch. It seems to be just for decoration. The owners might like to hunt or just like possums. The animal is in a house next to a lamp and you can see half of picture frame with a little boy holding up a mug. Maybe the son of a family? There’s a frame above the animal and a chimney that has assorted vases and statues. So far we have a moderately decorated house with a possible child and family.


The next shot shows a headline that says, “awkward silence presents” so that may just be the name of the people who produced it or it may contribute to the video and how it’s so awkward. Then a guy appears with his right leg crossed over his left and his hands are folded. He’s wearing buissiness casual clothing with white sneakers and black ankle socks. I think he’s trying to look sophisticated. To me he looks like the kid in the picture all grown up, but that’s just a guess. The guy looks to be on another side of the house because now we see a fish tank, lots of books, a figurine duck, some paintings of nature, and some more animal figurines. For me the animal figurines and nature paintings adds to the hunting idea. There is also a yellow letter “H” on the screen so I’m assuming the guy is about to say something that starts with an h.


The scene is the same except the yellow words now say, “How to know if you should”. The guy’s mouth is moving as the words appear so I’m assuming he’s saying it.


The scene is the same except the yellow words now read out,”How to know if you should reach out to a friend.” Maybe a video on friends going hunting together and knowing when to call the other for help.


Now the scene cuts to a close up of the guy and his facial expression has changed from calm and collected to the face your mother gives you when you had too much candy before dinner. The look is of warning and he looks like he’s about to give advice. His facial expression changed maybe because he is about to say something important, hence the close up of his face.


The guy continues to talk in the close up with the cautious expression until another extreme close up of a beautiful African American woman appears. The scene is no longer in the house and the background is all white. Maybe a bed she’s laying on? She does seem to be laying down, but all you can see is her face and up to the top her shoulders. Her hair is down and curly, maybe she’s taking a photoshoot? You can’t tell if she’s wearing clothes or not from the scene, and she’s staring at the camera as if she’s about to tell a story. Maybe this is the friend the guy from the first scene is trying to contact or the reason he needs to contact a friend. The close up could mean the director wanted something to be hidden and revealed later. This is the second close up shot so far in 5 seconds.


In this short second, two more people appear very fast back to back. The first is an African American man who appears to be sweating and you can’t tell if he has on clothes either. It’s another close so I can infer these close ups are meaningful to the video. The guy’s expression looks of concern and his background is blurred but looks red, white, and tan. Maybe a basketball court? The second person who appears is a white woman who looks to be sitting down on a comfy chair. Again, the background is blurred and the shot is a close up, similar to the last three. Both people are on the screen for a split second and i think these close ups are going to be continued. I’m having trouble trying to connect the close ups to the original scene.


The second starts with another close up of a girl who looks like a teenager. The background also is blurred like the other closeups, but I can make-out balloons. I can see a gold “P”, and a gold “R” together, does it spell out Prom? The girl has straightened hair and lip gloss on which also may contribute to the prom theme. Her expression seems very nonchalant. There are two more closeups in this second. One is of a white boy laying in a bed\, similar to the second close up of the video. His lips looks chapped and he also has a nonchalant look on his face. Maybe the morning after a one night stand?


The next second shows another closeup. The next close up is of another white man who looks to be older and the background is the same as the African american man, with the red, white, and tan colors blurred. He also appears to be sweating. But I can make out flowers in the background, so I no longer think it’s a basketball court.


The next closeup in this second correlates with the teenage girl from an earlier second. I can make out the top of a suit and the balloons from the background are of a gold “M”, and a gold question mark. This adds to the prom spelling question I had. The next closeup is of another girl who has another similar background to one of the people in an earlier second.


The same African american woman from the second close-up of the video is seen again, and the white man from the scene with the flowers is also seen again in this scene.


More closeups from the beginning of the video are seen in these seconds.


The same guy from the beginning of the commercial who was sitting with his legs crossed appears again, but this time it isn’t a close-up. He stays like this for a few seconds.


These seconds still show the guy talking but now it’s a close-up of him again. He seems to be wondering about something the way his head shifts to one side. He continues to talk like this for quite some time.


The scene shifts to the fish tank with the words “Find out how you can help a friend with their mental health at” written in small yellow font. The words “Seize the awkward” stays on the screen for the rest of the video.

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1 Response to Visual Rhetoric–Daphneblake

  1. davidbdale says:

    You’re doing great work, Daphne, combining visual details with guesses about the rhetorical purpose of the choices the director has made, but I think you might be missing some details in the first few seconds that are clearly deliberate.

    I will also say that I’ve watched this video before because its a popular choice, and I’m not sure I understand WHY the art director chose this room to shoot the “host” in, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to come up with an explanation.

    Some videos try hard to be contemporary. Others, like the one we watched in class about the coach and his son witnessing spousal abuse in a diner, want to appear to be documentaries. Some parody or spoof advertising techniques from bygone eras. See if you can figure out whether this as is made straight, or whether it is making a conscious nod to its predecessors.

    Is this young man in his own home? Would a person his age who is acting as the expert on relationship psychology dress casually and wear no socks? What’s up with this decor, really? Does it look to you like a paneled basement from 1960? Would it suit your friends better, or your grandpa? The “entertainment center” is a combination record player, tube TV, and speaker setup that hasn’t been built for 50 years. The collection of vinyl records is either a hipster thing or a set of big band jazz platters. The animal figurines? There’s a clear attempt to capture an era or a particular personality here, Daphne. I can’t tell you why, but it seems obvious to me.

    Does that change your thinking about the rest of the video?
    I would love to hear your response.


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