This paper is a critical analysis of an ad for the Nissan Altima as it appears in the August 2003 issue of MenÆs Health magazine using the Visual Reading Text handout as its guide. This apparently simple ad uses a number of effectively chosen elements and meanings to convey the concept that real men can satisfy all aspects of their personalities and psychological needs by owning an Altima.
The ad consists almost exclusively of a two-page color photograph, depicting a father sprawled on the bedroom floor showing his infant son the ownerÆs manual to a 2003 V6 Altima. While this ad has appeared in other national publications, its placement in MenÆs Health is especially interesting, as readers can be assumed to be much like the man pictured: healthy, virile, middle-to-upper class males in the prime of life, interested in the ôgood lifeö but also seeking stability and generativity.
The image is artfully professional, carefully composed but designed to look like a candid shot of a father at home, sharing a private moment with his son. The rhetorical purpose of the shot is to suggest a sincere glimpse into the true heart of the kind of individual likely to be reading such a magazine who ought to also be considering the safety, reliability, and sportiness of owning an Altima.
The design is masterful. The man is the central figure, placed just enough to the right of the shot to keep from being buried in the magazineÆs center binding. His head is well-lit from the side, but the face is in a slight shadow, allowing the viewer to focus more on the idea of the man rather than the man as a particular individual. The man himself could be in his 20s or his 30s; his balding head and very short haircut keep the viewer from deciding whether he is younger but prematurely bald or older but still youthful, and, while he looks in good shape, he is not overly muscled.
He lies on the floor, resting on a pillow, and partially suppor...