An Analysis of Silence in Television Advertising

Part One

The article I chose to use for this mini-project is titled: The Sounds of Silence: Functions and Use of Silence in Television Advertising. It was written by Douglas Olsen, and was featured in the Journal of Advertising Research.

The article is very interesting and discusses how important and influential silence can be in an advertisement, and what the actual uses of silence have been. In particular, the article discusses the absence of music and the effects that has on an audience.

Part Two

The article: The Sounds of Silence: Functions and Use of Silence in Television Advertising, explains there has been a large amount of research done in the past regarding the impact that music has on an advertisement and audience. More specifically the qualities of tempo, pitch, loudness, etc. of the music. Also, the nature of the advertisement is important when considering the effect music (or lack of music) has. Depending on what kind of concentration a person needs to have on a commercial, you can then determine whether using music in the advertisement would be useful, or hurt the intended outcome. For example, a commercial with little or no music will be most effective with an elderly audience. A loud, busy, Pepsi commercial will justifiably appeal more to a younger audience.

The article and additional studies have explained that the use of white space in advertisements tends to attract people’s attention. The lack of music or sound in a commercial or advertisement is considered white space, and will attract a viewer. If someone is doing other things while watching T.V. and all of a sudden they notice there isn’t any sound coming out of the television, their eyes will likely jump up to the television and it’s probably at that moment the person will catch a glimpse of a company name, or a logo. Commercials are very well thought out and this is a technique a company might try to use to win over a potential customer. It is also believed that silence allows the true message of the advertisement to sink into the viewer’s brain. There isn’t any music or added noise to distract the message as it makes it’s way to the audience’s brain.

Silence can also set a mood for the advertisement, and among the audience, just as different types of music can set different types of moods. As studies have proved, silence tends to set a serious tone to an advertisement. It’s not often used as a way to produce a feeling of joy or happiness, but it is highly effective when creating a somber, retrospective mood.

The article also provides statistical information generated from studies done on this topic. For example, studies show that the most common emotion generated from silence in advertising is sadness, followed by anger, and silence also has a high ability to attract attention to specific information.

Part Three

The way this article is organized confused me a bit at first because it’s not something I’m used to reading. The article is presented as a kind of experiment, in a study-type fashion.

The article begins with a section titled “Abstract.” This section is an introduction to the rest of the article. It creates a situation, and introduces the idea of silence in advertising. Underneath the “Abstract” section is the “Full Text.” This section is written in a pretty normal fashion that is comparable to an essay or paper. The text explains how studies have been done and people have researched this topic, and gives a bit of history about the topic.

Next, the effects of silence in advertising are discussed including the types of emotions that are generated by the silence. The use of music and lack of music in advertising is discussed and then somewhat of a conclusion is written. After this the article gets a bit more confusing because the section titled “Survey of Creative Directors” begins. This is a section that lists off surveys that have been done on the topic, and the outcomes. However, they’re not fully explained, the numbers and situations are just kind of listed. Also, a more difficult language is used. Sections titled: “Demographics, Self Reported Functions of Silence, and Structured Evaluations of the Functions of Silence,” make the article more confusing and tends to make the reader lose interest. There are also tables included that present information generated by studies. Finally at the end of the article is a list of references.

I feel the information is balanced. Personally, I would like to read more of the thoughts that are written towards the beginning of the article instead of numbers and percentages, but the article gives a good description of what kind of effect silence can have in advertising. I think the purpose of the article is to make people aware that silence is something that is strongly considered, and it’s something you may not notice, but it works in commercials everyday.

Part Four

I think all of the information in this article is very credible. Throughout the explanation of the topic, there are names mentioned, years, and a lot of factual information. At the end, there are numerous references, and it seems as though the article is very well thought out, and it was planned and researched. Though I don’t know who Douglas Olsen is, he presents his information in a very professional manner and it seems as though he knows what he is talking about. Also he provides the reader with tables and information from studies. All of this information seems very credible in my opinion. I don’t feel there is any way the author could have presented the information in a more credible manner.

Part Five

I think this was a very interesting article. The topic grabbed my attention when I was looking for an article, and the first sections were very easy to read and understand. I think this topic is very relevant because advertising agencies and companies are using tactics such as silence to attract a viewer’s attention and make an impression. Companies will go to great lengths to succeed, and analyzing the placement of silence in an advertisement is very clever and very valid.

I’m already aware of a lot of different things that are used in advertisements that people don’t seem to notice very often. I’ve taken classes before that forced me to look at these things, so I find them interesting, and I found this article interesting. Silence is just one more thing that is being used to sell a product or an idea. I would much rather see companies stressing over where to put a moment of silence rather than stressing over what the half naked woman should be doing in the commercial. Silence is a perfectly justifiable and safe thing to use in advertisements and I enjoyed reading this article because it made me think quite a bit, and even look for moments of silence when the television is on.

I believe I would benefit from reading this article even if I wasn’t taking this class. It’s good to be aware of what is going on around you, and to be aware of what companies are trying to do to influence you.

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