print advertisement (volkswagen)

photo advertisement VW

This portrayal of the Seattle Central Library was circulated in the popular print media as an advertisement for a Volkswagen car. Several readings can be made from this image; perhaps one of the most fascinating would entail a discussion of the association of this building’s image to a product (in this case a car) as a means of connoting a certain lifestyle and experience. In this regard it is appropriate to consider that we are not only experiencing a shift from a print-based to a digital-based society, but also from a service economy to what has been coined an experience economy, where the particularity of the experience establishes the difference between otherwise similar products in highly saturated markets. This advertisement illustrates this idea quite cunningly, by minimizing the image of the car, but still framing it between the large human figure in the foreground and the building in the background. This layout leads the viewer’s eye to focus on the car and directly associate it with the original and rule-defiant design of the library, emphasized by the contrast created with the generic office building visible further in the distance. The defiance of preconceptions is extended by the inversion played out in this image, where the human figure appears to be in motion and the vehicle seems to be static.


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