The Power of Graphic Communication

Case Study: Cigarette advertising and Surrealism: a case study in the symbolism of gender and pleasure. (Crowley, D. and Jobling, P. 1996)

This study is relevant because of the Freudian principles of pleasure whereas ideology of cultures can be visually represented as having the potential of feeding into the hedonistic desire and a sense of belonging. In support of the desired hedonistic youth tribes having elements of jouissance and undertones of rebellion against the main cultures’ ideas and values.

Beginning in 1965, cigarette ads were being banned globally from TV commercials, cinema adverts and in some countries, even printed media. Analytically, when examining the social function of these adverts, we must consider how the social discourse limits the authority of their visual relationship between these adverts and mainstream society.

Consequently, sales increased during the prohibition period due to strategies linking pleasure and the representation of gendered activity. Benson and Hedges began a Surrealist campaign in 1977 taking into consideration the first Surrealist Manifesto. In 1978, the campaign won the Design Council award for best adverts.

Figure 1.

Evoking the visual interest…beauty at play…where nothing appears as it should be, strategies were put in place bypassing any suggestion of harmful effects and focusing on the spectator’s pleasure and the object of desire. In this context image and pleasure are the vehicles for surplus-jouissance. In figure one you see the gold box, melting from the subject matter of the movie Heat of the Night. Dripping from the box a molten nude human figure forms indicating the object of desire.

Figure 2.

The second figure is another example of the intentional modeled surrealist art and the methodology used to achieve a shock impact or seduce the spectator. This employs the art of superimposing two distinct objects where they can be signified in the same form, each one becoming a metaphor of the other…Santa’s sack.

This brief evaluation of graphic design is just one of many illustrations of the effects the production of consumption images can have on cultures, politics, and consumerism.


Crowley, D. and Jobling, P. 1996. Graphic Design Reproduction and Representation. Manchester, UK. Manchester University Press.

Figure 1. (Photograph by Duffy, B. 1978) Available at: [accessed 01-02-2017]

Fig. 2. Santa’s Sack Available at: [accessed 01-02-2017]

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