The comically enlarged head on the woman draws the viewer’s attention to this ad. She dares someone to take a closer look at what is going on. The large head could signify anything from “having a big head” about her appearance and herself to her being very intelligent. Having a “big head”, she wants to be seen as assured and confident, maybe even a bit conceited. She knows that she looks good, especially with her Steve Madden boots on, which are also larger than her body but not as large as her head.
Her small frame rests upon a motorcycle in the middle of an urban scene. Centered in the page is the license plate of this confident woman’s ride. The advertisers played with “Madden” phonemically, creating a personalized New York license plate for this woman. Placed to the left of “MAD. N.1” is the Statue of Liberty. One purpose in focusing on the license plate is to date this ad. Madden is not a designer that will be a “has been”. The plate doesn’t expire until 2001. Madden, is a true “All American” innovator. This is supported with the association of New York and its ever-current fashion scene.
The angle of the building in the background forces the viewer to look to the top of the ad. Placed at yet another angle, is the Steve Madden logo in the top right. The clear sky is promising a beautiful day. With the logo partially embedded in the building and partially in the sky, Steve Madden wants you to see that he knows where you’re coming from. The “sky is the limit” with Steve Madden shoes, clothing and accessories. The only thing to stop you from accomplishing the look you have in mind is the limit you set upon yourself. Steve Madden products will help you attain the appearance you have always envisioned.
The woman in this ad does not look like she belongs in this setting. She is alone in a provocative Steve Madden outfit in a seemingly “bad” part of town. She is accompanied only by two of her dogs. The fact that the woman brings her dogs along with her on the motorcycle shows that she is unconventional and maybe even a bit eccentric. Despite all of this, she still looks comfortable in her surroundings. Steve Madden products look good anywhere all the time and so will the person who buys them.
The woman has a set of goggles on her head. The large dog to the right of her motorcycle is wearing goggles. The point in the goggles is to prevent things from irritating your eyes, which could prevent you from seeing clearly. The two of them are looking straight at you and seem to know what is going on. The smaller dog, on the other hand, seems completely clueless. Unlike the others, he does not have the advantage of accessorizing well. He is looking off to the side with “sad puppy dog eyes”. Without accessorizing, you may not see or be seen the way you want. This is why you need to accessorize with Steve Madden products.
The beauty of metaphors is the flexibility of their interpretation. There is not necessarily one “right” way of looking at this ad. Yet, I look at this ad and see “Steve Madden shoes, clothes and accessories of the times are perfect for any occasion.”
We see them in the subways, bus stops, magazines, and television, but what do they mean? How do they manage to catch our attention? Advertisements often find ways to sell their products by psychologically manipulating people. The advertising industry makes us envious of others and convinces us to be unhappy with what we have (Valko). Steve Madden ads usually feature women with absurdly large heads and hourglass bodies which try to force the audience to wonder what the ad is about. One of these odd ads appears in the March/April 2001 issue of Twist Magazine. It features a young woman with a big head helplessly running, as an airplane zooms over her at an abandoned airport. There are three characteristics within the ad that contribute the whole idea that Steve Madden shoes, clothes and accessories will improve your self image. The main purpose of Steve Madden ads is to suggest to its viewers that they will feel good about themselves by wearing his products. The model’s big head conveys self-esteem and self-pride and she challenges the consumer to look as good as she does. The young woman wears a face of apprehension and is running away from her old self to start her new confident life with Steve Madden products. The sleek black leather jacket on top of a sexy white shirt, short enough to reveal her stomach and curvaceous hips together with her tight low rider blue jeans, black pointy high boots, and trendy black bag complete her fashionable outfit. The embellished woman’s physique is aimed to appeal to women and girls between the ages of 16 through 25 in search of funky, hip, sexy clothes. Steve Madden likes to think of his clothes of as being distinctive and he illustrates his idea by setting an abandoned airport as the background for the ad. There is not a body in sight as the model runs across the old gum stained pavement. This calls attention to the idea that by wearing Steve Madden buyers isolate themselves from everyone else. She is too proud and conceited and cannot imagine being compared to anyone else. The Steve Madden logo in the ad also contributes to the main idea of the ad. It could have been anywhere on the page, why the sky? . Steve Madden ads always have their logos imprinted on the sky to imply that the “sky is the limit” with Steve madden products (Liza). Steve Madden’s use of the airplane flying across the model’s head are to let his consumers know that the only thing to stop them from accomplishing the look they have in mind is the limit the set upon themselves. Steve Madden will help its buyers attain the appearance they have always envisioned. Furthermore, it can be said, in Bertrand Russell’s words that “Good advertisements will either make the audience envious of the lifestyle being advertised, or will generate within the audience the desire to be envied by others” (Harris). Many advertisers aren’t as successful but Steve Madden manages to persuade his buyers to buy his products through his eccentric ads.