Assignment #4 – Analyze an Ad

Cinderella from Year of a Million DreamsCinderella from Disney’s Year of a Million Dreams Campaign, photograph by Anne Leibovitz.

What makes an ad successful?

An ad must make its viewer want what is being displayed. For this example, Disney has a one-up on the competition because what it has to offer is a fantasy. By portraying real people as fantasy characters we are better able to transport ourselves into their position.

How does the ad utilize formal elements to convey meaning?

The photography of Anne Leibovitz has been found in major publications for the last thirty years, mostly in the realm of portrait photography. For this image of Cinderella for Disney, Leibovitz is using several elements to draw and keep the eye within the photograph. The shot is framed using the rule of thirds, and has an overall diagonal composition as the staircase of the leads away from the foreground and back to the castle at the top of the frame. Additionally, Leibovitz leaves only two bright spots in the picture, the lights emanating from the castle and the reflection off of Cinderella’s dress. This photograph, like the others in its same series, all do a successful job at slowing down the motion of the actors. These ads display an innermost desire, to see ourselves as Princesses and Heroes, a fantasy which no one wants to end.

How is color used?

In the Cinderella ad color is both subdued and hyper realized. The classic blue of the gown is digitally enhanced to display its peak luster, while the background of the photo is grayed out and subdued to help control the focus of the viewer on the main action of the ad, the flight of Cinderella and the promise of her lost slipper, standing illuminated on a step.

How does the information flow?

The information in this ad is limited but precise, which is why it works so well. While Leibovitz has the benefit of a strong visual model in the Disney original, which is known so well to Americans, this also can work against her. Because so many of us has such a personal relationship with the Disney movies of our childhood, one misstep or misrepresentation can resonate very negatively with viewers. That being said, this ad is about as pared down as you can get. Very limited text allows your imagination to take over, the one line, Where every Cinderella story comes true leaves the viewer to their own devices, presenting them with an image to jumpstart their own interpretation of the fantasy.

How are you visually led through the image?

This photograph is constructed so the viewer’s eye is bounced back continually along the staircase, meeting in turn the castle, the lost shoe, and finally its owner, then your eye is zipped back up the diagonal to see the elements in reverse. This visual repetition and continuum allows for the viewer to take the time to experience all the elements of the picture and get sucked in to their own dreams.

To see More of the Dreams series, they are posted here:


2 Responses to “Assignment #4 – Analyze an Ad”

  1. rdeveux Says:

    This is a fascinating image. One thing that I am curious about however is the rule of thirds. I can see Cinderella and the castle drawing the viewer’s eye, but not the slipper (honestly, I didn’t see it at all until you mentioned it). In a way, the starkness of the white wording against the dark background is what caught my eye first…it’s almost as if the illumination on the slipper washed it out. I would totally agree with the rule of thirds however!

  2. alfriedland Says:

    This is really an amazing ad. It brings back kiddie dreams of fairy tales and beautiful princesses!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: