The advertisement analysis was performed on the Phillips Delicious Southern Soups presented in the May 29, 1937 issue of Life magazine. In this particular issue, the advertisement was at the beginning, which is often a key attribute of advertisements around the timeframe – and in general. The advertisement portrays an older gentleman with a spoon of soup in his hand ready to enjoy what the advertisement notes as “these delicious soups are Southern Cooking at its best!” (Life). It can be inferred from the advertisement that the individual in the photo is who was quoted, George Rector, also noted as a world-famous cooking authority. The ad presents imagery of the gentleman as well as a large soup bowl of what appears to be vegetable soup. The overall purpose of the advertisement is to provide in descriptive detail what Phillips soups are about, why they should be purchased and that because of Rector’s recommendation in being a leading individual on overall cooking – that consumers should purchase this particular item. Moreover, the advertisement presents all of the flavors associated with the soup brands, so that consumers upon viewing do not feel or believe that it is solely vegetable, and that they have a plethora of different types to satisfy their taste buds and proverbially enjoy the delicious Southern cuisine.
According to Leiss et al., this particular advertisement is a product-information format oriented one. Specifically, these types of ads “contain visuals that emphasize the effectiveness of the product, or rational arguments pointing out the benefits of use, but it does not make extensive reference to the user” (175). Given the fact that the man is displayed as getting ready to enjoy the benefits of this Southern soup, the advertisement is providing a rational argument as to why this soup should be preferred over others. It could be argued that the advertisement also makes use of “elaborate copywriting,” as Leiss et al. states is common to this particular format as the font at the top is in script-like whereas the sizes and styles shift throughout it. The script like font produces a kind of elegant exhibition of the soup and why its deliciousness is a cut above the rest. Moreover, the description itself which discusses how the soup “brings out all the richness of the choice ingredients” (Life), reads in such a way that the mouth cannot help but water after not only seeing the soup in the bowl, but in the overall advertisement itself.

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It can be said that this advertisement is a reflection of the times in which it was presented as outlined by Marchand. Marchand discusses that “ads [are often] a reflection of society [and that] persons are depicted in such a way as to suggest their relationships to each other or to a larger social structure” (165). In essence, the man, seemingly George Rector, is just like everyone else from Phillips Soups’ perspective. He is not removed from society, or above them even though he is considered a world-famous cooking authority. The advertisement also displays that as mentioned earlier, society should try because Rector is such an authoritative figure on the delicacy of soups, and more emphatically Southern soups and their aspects. Marchand contends that “the merchandising strategies of manufacturers of foods unusually dictated tableaux that elevated the standards of respectable housekeeping” (171). This particular advertisement speaks profoundly to that assertion because of the fact that the soup is elevated above other types because it is 1) Southern, 2) elegant and delicious and 3) provides an eloquent, but hearty taste that only Phillips soups can provide. These attributes in themselves are enough to pull in readers to go and purchase the soup. It can be stated that Life magazine for the most part consisted of women readers and because of this, Phillips advertisers understood the power of the words that they could use to convey the purpose of purchasing such a great and stellar soup.

Marchand continues by stating that because of this dynamic in itself that women would find leisure in reading such information about products – and what better item than with soup (171). Even with that argument aside, the advertisement stands out because of its historical context.

Arguably, since this was an advertisement presented in an issue of Life magazine in 1937, individual consumers were still handling the effects of the Great Depression and soup was affordable and could be a unique meal without a significant dent to the pocketbook. The advertisement, interestingly does not reveal how much the soups cost but there is reasonable assumption to conclude that they were not too much given the times in which the issue was printed. Furthermore, there could also be an argument made regarding the efficacy of soup in general. Soup is considered to be a hearty, weighty meal that is healthy and flavorful. With the different flavors of Phillips soups that consumers could purchase, this undoubtedly highlights the relevance and importance of the advertisement and its overall effectiveness once viewed by the consumer. Even if Rector had not been seemingly placed within the context of the ad as an image, the soup can and the overall details that were written provide a sufficient understanding of what the soup is about, why consumers should purchase it and why it stands above other types that were available in 1937. In addition to this, it was one of the first advertisements that a reader would see because of its placement, which only adds to its marketing usefulness.

  • Leiss, et al. “Structure of Advertisements.” Class Handout.
  • Marchand. “Advertisements as Social Tableaux.” Class Handout.
  • “Phillips Soups.” Life 29 Mar. 1937: Web. 7 Feb. 2016. .