22 April 2019
The image I chose to analyze is an ad from the 1970s about cocaine. Not only will I paint a vivid picture, as well as go into the meaning behind the ad. I will be breaking down each aspect and what the viewer is suppose to consciously or subconsciously obtain from viewing the image. Using two other sources they should help bring into perspective how many people willingly said they used cocaine in the 70s as well as their target demographic. Then you could see how well ads are designed to coax you into purchasing their product and keep you into your habits for good or evil.
“The Gold Standard” is the ad I chose is entirely black and at the very top is a gold razor blade with a shining reflection. Just under it is the title of the ad in a gold font outlined in what seems to be cocaine, only movies have prepared me for what it may look like. Followed by a couple short paragraphs in white letters describing the product as well as the price point. It reads how this blade is coated in 22K gold and is meant to make you stand out from all others. For a pack of three and a carrying case the price is only $5. The ad also offers ad ons to your purchase for a shooter to use with your cocaine. Free Shipping is offered immediately upon purchase you just have to send a certified check or cash to the shipping address; P.O Box 36, Buffalo, New York 14240. The whole ad is brought to you by STAR RYDER with a blue star above the company’s name. In an instant the conscious mind can look at the ad and see it’s about cocaine and decide to continue to read what the ad has to offer or look past it. At this time in the 70s drug usage was very ok and not looked down on, in fact doctors referred it as a pick me up to certain patients who were feeling depressed or always tired.
Let’s get into breaking down the image and meaning behind each of the visual cues. The first thing the viewers sees is the focal point at the top of the page of a gold razor blade and the words The Gold Standard. This creates an idea of elegance and class to obtain a gold razor blade to cut your “high end” drug as well. The word standard not only normalizes the use of cocaine, but also makes you consider that having a gold razor blade is the normal thing to do and you want to look the part of being rich. The words ;unmistakable elegance, superior quality, 22K gold, are all words to paint a picture in the mind of the viewer of how well crafted these blades are. A pack of three for $5 as well as to add a shooter for $5 makes perfect sense to a user to only spend a total of $10 + postage. Theres no exact author to refer to, but the company STAR RYDER is still till this day a hub for drugs specifically marijuana (Deliciousseeds). Star Ryder is now the name of a strain of marijuana coined around the same time. Using logos on the frequent drug user puts a measly few bucks at a low risk considering they would be willing to spend $100 on a night out.
The primary purpose of the ad is to convince the reader to purchase their exclusive 22K gold razor blade. The audience is considered to be anyone from a high schooler all the way to an older adult who uses cocaine. The statistics I chose to examine come from New York Fall 1971 graph from those who openly admitted to using drugs. The drugs ranged from simple alcohol all the way to heroin but 34% of the total number of 15,695 said they used cocaine in one way or another. (Kandel, Denise et al.) This appeals to the ethos in people as a character trait. Anybody who gave this ad the time of day was either considering doing cocaine or was already an average user who wants to look the part of a high roller. With around 5,000 people who have tried cocaine at least once in the New York statistic theres a good chance an ad like this would convince someone to try it again. This ad was most likely found in a magazine or newspaper that people could easily access and write down the P.O. box to send them money later. This could also relate to pathos in a sense as well. Anyone who has ever done cocaine has a distinct memory of how good they felt and the fun they had. As they read the ad subconsciously they could relive those feelings and emotions they experienced. The occasion of this ad is during the peak of cocaine use across a couple decades of ages and different scenes where it was socially acceptable.
STAR RYDER is no longer a brand in the sense of selling cocaine, but instead has been the new name of a strain of marijuana. It’s intense to think about the number of people who admitted to trying cocaine at the time and I can hypothesize there were even more users by the end of the decade. When things become part of the norm more and more people will feel more comfortable doing their bad habits. Ads like these will take advantage of you consciously and subconsciously using ethos, pathos, and logos to convince you to use their product. These ads help you think that your habit is ok and you should invest in it at the low rate of $5. The 70s were very different from today’s modern times, but even the latest ads today appeal to addictions like cigarettes, alcohol, gambling etc. Other ads may not even consider addictions, but will still convince you to use their product in on way or another.
Deliciousseeds. https://www.deliciousseeds.com/del_en/. 2019
Kandel, Denise, et al. “The Epidemiology of Drug Use among New York State High School Students: Distribution, Trends, and Change in Rates of Use.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 66, no. 1, Jan. 1976, pp. 43–53. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2105/AJPH.66.1.43.
Ryder, Star. “The Gold Standard.” These Shameless Cocaine Ads Prove the ’70s Were a Hell of a Time to Be Alive. David Griner, September 15, 2015. https://www.adweek.com/ creativity/these-shameless-cocaine-ads-prove-70s-were-hell-time-be-alive-166927/