Part 4 Project 2 Exercise 1

This exercise is about looking at an advertising image: ‘circle and write on as many parts of the image as you can. Comment on what it is, what it says about the product and why you think it’s there.’

This image is from the magazine that is sent to National Trust members. I am a member of the National Trust, there’s a property very near to me that I used to visit frequently, and there are several properties locally including houses, castles and beaches that I visit at various times. However, I often find the NT difficult; the phrase that comes to mind is commodified nature, and I think this advert in the magazine aimed at members supports that view.

From the group in the desert to the wording Eeeek, I think that the advert implies a safe way to ‘explore’. There are elements of tradition in the environment that are being presented; camels, locals wearing clothing you’d expect to see in the desert. This fits in well with a NT audience.

There is the clear presence of guides, and although I’ve not marked it on the image, the colours in the people at the back of the group, who look like they could be locals, match those in the front group, who are wearing more westernised clothes. It hints at an element of connection and therefore of safety.

The group are looking towards the sun, and there is a yellow line across the point where sky and desert meet; to me, this suggests that some element of the original photograph has been removed digitally. I find it significant – would you look at the sun in the desert? I’ve not been, but I expect not. But the idea is that they are being given a clear, perhaps privileged view of the area. Apart from Eeeek, the words that stand out are explore, adventure, experience and travel, small, unforgettable, responsible.

The idea is to make you feel like less of a tourist, that you’re an explorer instead. But of course, you’re a tourist with guides to keep you safe. And ‘Eeeek’ clarifies that very clearly. It’s an expression of surprise, of fear, something used in speech bubbles in horror  cartoons that signify the presence of a monster. In that context, it would be used with an exclamation mark: Eeeek!!! Here, however, it is very carefully followed by a full-stop, which works brilliantly to express the nature of the experience; that you won’t have the fear of an actual adventure, you won’t really face the difficulties of an explorer, but will remain safe and responsible while you experience a small group tour of somewhere that is seen by many as dangerous because it has a different culture.