analyzing media messages through commercial advertisement

Advertising does much more than impart product information, it tells us what products signify and mean. Advertisements are very crucial in product branding. It can make or break any products in the market with the advertisement. Ads can be in many forms and can be found anywhere such in televisions, billboards, magazines, newspapers and the internet. It is a marketing form, to enable them catch the consumers’ attention. It is said that every advertisement is a long-term investment in the image of a brand.

I have chosen Paris Hilton, Carls Jr. Commercial. Carl’s Jr., is one of the largest hamburger chain in the United States, and also making its name globally for years now. Paris Hilton is a socialite, model, and a TV personality. She’s a well known Hilton heiress. Her commercial had made a lot of remarks both negative and positive attributes.

The Commercial

It’s was 30 second commercial that features Paris Hilton wearing skin-tight swimsuit soaping up a Bentley and crawling all over it before taking a big bite out of the burger. The product she’s endorsing was Carl’s Jr. spicy burger.

Analyzing the Commercial

The surface meaning – let’s take a look of the overall impression that a reader might get from quickly studying the advertisement

The advertisement commercial model is Paris Hilton, a very controversial celebrity that’s been making waves. She’s a very well known personality. Seeing her wearing a very sexy bathing suit didn’t surprised me at all, for she has been seen in many sexy outfits a lot of times. When she approached the Bentley and started to clean and soap it a very provocative manner made me think twice, what might be the product she’s endorsing, maybe the car. But when she started to eat hamburger that hit me, it was a hamburger commercial in a different approach.

With regards to the music which is very essential element of a commercial because music expresses and evokes emotions, “I Love Paris in the Springtime” was the song played in the commercial. There’s no word or phrase said by Paris all throughout the commercial.

The advertiser’s intended meaning – is the message that the advertiser is trying to get across. It is the marketing strategy behind the advertisement. It is the “preferred” or expected meaning that a reader might get from the ad; the meaning that the advertiser intends for the reader to take with them.

What was the intention of the commercial from the advertisers’ point of view? Brad Haley, Carl’s Jr. executive vice president of marketing said that their message was very simple, it’s about Paris, the situation, and the Spicy BBQ Six Dollar Burger are ‘hot,’ They have chosen Paris to star in the ad because she is an intriguing cultural icon and the ‘it girl’ of the moment. She attracts Carl’s Jr.’s most loyal customers, ‘young, hungry guys,’ as well as ‘young, hungry gals.’”

The public likes what is familiar, and their chosen commercial model is very familiar and has a lot of good and bad publicity Simple, to make an impact. It’s very clear that the advertisers want a very controversial commercial by putting a contentious celebrity in a provocative way of promoting a hamburger product.

The commercial target audience would be teenagers and adults especially male viewers ages from 18-34, because of its content, kids would not be able to appreciate it and would understand what’s it about except when they see the hamburger.

The cultural or ideological meaning relies on the cultural knowledge and background of the reader. We all “make sense” of ads by relating them to our culture and to the shared belief systems held in common by most people

A lot of viewers disliked the commercial in several reasons; it looks like more of a musical video rather than a commercial. It’s soft core porn. And there’s no good message behind the commercial. It is very steamy in nature, and the way they have presented it could have a negative impact. People were questioning Carl’s Jr, what’s a sexy lady soaping a Bentley got to do with eating a hamburger? It’s just another kind of commercial where a young woman portrays explicitly in a commercial. Americans are liberal people yet they still believe that a commercial advertisement should have a good message or they might be conveying a wrong idea to the viewers especially the younger ones.

What if the same commercial will be shown somewhere in Europe? We know that Europeans tend to be more liberal than Americans and they tend to have a wider perspective understand of controversial commercials. Some commercials are even more explicit, but they just brushed it off. While on a very conservative countries, they will try to ban that kind of commercial and will even hold several protests to voice out that they are disgusted and annoyed by it. The interpretation of such commercials varies from our cultures and beliefs. People differ from each other, our cultures and beliefs vary from where we grew up.

There’s somewhat exaggeration of the commercial especially when Paris cleans the car and tries to pour some soap and water on her body, making her all wet. What was that about that? Does it have anything to do with eating the hamburger? I find it really vague. There is a stereotype involved, like the character involved. Some commercials associate sexy women with liquors or beers. Although, the commercials’ product is a hamburger, it used a stereotype presentation of a woman. Her sexiness could somehow influence the audience to try the product she’s endorsing.


It is very important for the commercials to convey some moral values. But what’s more important, the message or the marketing strategy of the company? Companies used advertising to promote their products, and they want their advertisements to have a major impact to the consumers, it’s either good or bad. The importance is to drive sales to their company and leave a mark to the audience minds.

Carl’s Jr. and the advertisers made a brilliant commercial; they indeed made an impression to their consumers. It was an issue for several days, tabloids and newspapers talked about it, several television programs discussed it, and a lot of celebrities made a spoof about it. Carl’s Jr. even made another presentation about it, what if their model in a bathing suit would be a man, would it make a difference? Certainly, it does make a different perspective to the audience. It was a comic; it was totally different from racy commercial Paris did. That was their point, but nobody seems to bother anyway.

In an advertising world, everything is competition. Companies compete for branding, image, and popularity. Commercials with sexy themes and has hidden messages seems to be popular, and various researches have been studied about that. People seem to favor commercials with a naughty approach, and an advertiser knows that. Sexy advertisement would only stop when no ones patronize it, but it seems their audiences are increasing every year, why? Because it’s a very effective campaign. Now, how will you put an end to it?

The commercial can be found at

Some still pictures of the controversial commercial

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