In a number of libraries is a poster. 'READ' is the largest word, in the upper left corner, so it seems to encourage reading.

But the poster shows only one person, an older man. It appears he is Paul Newman. So, considering his age, race, etc., exactly who would this ad be appealing to--and, who would it NOT be appealing to? But that's not what's puzzling. It's what Newman is doing (and therefore NOT doing).

He is stretched out on his side, leaning on his right elbow, with a book titled STAR, held up in front of him. Down by his feet are two piles of maybe twenty books total. Big deal, you say, it's a promotion for reading.

What undercuts everything else in the 'ad' is the fact that Newman is stretched out, leaning on his elbow--on a pool table in a room with other pool tables, supposedly reading. I say supposedly because who can believe that anyone could stay very long in that position, on the very hard surface of a pool table.

The words may say READ but the entire visual image says not to expect much reading to be going on.

The book title, STAR, is important because the pool hall setting is important. One of Newman's most famous roles is that of Fast Eddie Felsen, a pool hustler who acts as if he has never even seen a book and who, on top of that, is a L-O-S-E-R. How can this not be a part of the ad's message?

In other words, this ad has messages at two levels, but is set up so that the visual one contradicts the verbal one. This is not unusual in magazine ads

With this bit of practice, go to this example.

Mirror_of_the_Psyche || Topics List ||