Visual Culture

London, 18 September, 2017
by Wen

Visual culture is expressing culture and delivering messages through visual images. With the development of modern image tendencies, diverse delivery forms such as adverts, digital multimedia and fashion are progressing. Meanwhile, controversial issues, such as racism, feminism and sexism, most of the time happen with advertising images together. Advertising surrounds our lives. We do not even have the right to refuse them. Likewise, plenty of companies use dramatically sexy and satirical images to catch viewers’ attention in order to increase selling and to ignore the consequent damages to the society. As noted advertising experts such as Tom Himpe and Will Collin (cit  Tom, 2007) have remarked that by harnessing our natural curiosity for surprising new forms of communication, brands are compensating for the declining impact of traditional advertising. That is to say, advertising is in the middle of revolution, exploring what messages will be transmitted by them. No matter what form is presented, adverts are engaging with clients more gently and objectively than extremely compulsive and cynical communication such as pop-up and sensational title adverts.

Adidas is struggling to decrease the gaps of gender and race; being one of major sports brands, Adidas has a duty to promote their adverts in a positive way. At this launch, Adidas Studio LDN studio based in Brick Lane collaborated with Talenhouse which offers opportunities for artists, brands and mainstream audiences to work together, inviting street artists and graphic designers from all around the world to create mural artworks to transfer Adidas women in their own way. The idea of the creativity behind this was to promote their campaign named Here To Create and their new studio opening in Brick Lane. And the winner of the #HERETOCREATE competition was Audrey Manlot. Why was the graffiti advertising of Audrey Manlot handpicked by Adidas? And what message is delivered? I am going to describe the denotation of the advertising. Accounting for the colour composition of the graffiti, the whole painting is colourful and bright. The background colour is bright yellow. A plenty of black and no-hand females patterns which overlap each other are depicted everywhere in the painting. And they are posing in various athletic positions, such as running pose and yoga pose. Furthermore, the women in the graffiti are wearing colourful and fit sports bras with long or short sports trousers. Clearly three lines are decorated in each outfit. Finally, the Adidas logo, the address of Adidas Studio LDN and the main product named #HERETOCREATE are presented in the foreground of the painting, in the bottom right corner, the upper left corner and the centre of the painting respectively. Additionally, the characters of the #HERETOCREATE are black with a simple character style up the white long square are the same size as the characters. Overall, the massages convey joy, happiness, freedom and female individual strength.

All artwork attempts to transfer their connotation through denotation, such as pattern and using colour, in order to make audiences clearly receive significant perspectives and touching stories. Furthermore, with the advance in communication technology, adverts not longer single art form. They have been developed amount of art forms, such as print advertisements, photography, video and the further stunt which is more difficult and dangerous publicity than the others. I considered if “groovy” graffiti could have the same functional reflection as a modern advert given? Graphics have been created to represent politics and social movement for nations. During the 20th and 21st centuries, the creators have gained the opportunities for protest graphics to contribute to their professional technique in order to voice their support. In my opinion, Adidas struck a chord with the historical achievement of graffiti. What is more, with the event, Adidas did not have to force their way into the lives of London clients; they chose to subtly blend with local graffiti culture and the presentation on the wall of the outside Adidas Studio LDN which echoes the theme of Brick Lane. Many passers by have stopped to appreciate it as master artwork. Thus, the event successfully made the distance among the local artists and clients and Adidas studio nearer, therefore, increasing interaction.

Joy and happiness are symbolized by the strength of the yellow background going together harmoniously with colourful female patterns. Moreover, the colour using of colourful female patterns connotes an image of chameleons. In terms of western and eastern history, most females had to change or hide their own characters for adapting to new environment as chameleons. For example, political marriage and housewives stereotype on women. The chameleon ability makes most women feel socially safer and that is also a powerful ability to address any precipitous problems. In addition, black body design connotes two messages; one conveys doing exercise is freedom, no matter what colour you are. Adidas always welcome all races, especially as Brick Lane is amalgamation multi-cultural area. Secondly, the presentation is a good contrast for highlighting Adidas sport outfits. Therefore, the rich coolour presentation represents woman keeping their positivity and optimism to blend into new society as chameleon as well as racial equality.

Equally importantly, the main promotion is set in central of the adverts. This is a typical structure of graphic for transmitting a clear message to viewers. Additionally, Using hashtag symbolizes Adidas do value global market and attract more clients around the world. The #HERETOCREATE campaign invited female athletes to show their creativity by their own sport skills. These videos refer to concepts of female individual and independence.

Nowadays, what’s behind the recent proliferation of feminism adverts? With the rise of feminism, women are aware that they are should not be treated as objects any more. Yet, the concepts and images of female stereotypes are wildly used in adverts which are frequently negative. It can be argued that most women are still showcased as a perfectly fit mannequin being viewed by worldly people. If females willingly box themselves up in this, the amount of effort by brands and feminists is useless. In my opinion, plenty of feminism advertisement is not for male audiences but for females. That’s reason why Adidas aims at promoting #HERETOCREATE campaign. That’s a selling package, combining fitness, lifestyle, female confidence and produces together.

In conclusion, I think feminism ads can create meanings in their own way, but the acceptances of the main ideas depend on viewers’ mind and attitudes. Adidas successfully transmits a message of woman’s body individual empowerment and independence and the co-created graffiti advertising greatly connect with local culture. However, how much percentage of women would truly pay for its effort? Only the future can tell us this.



Audrey Manlot, French artist
,Submitted for Create a wall mural for adidas Womens
Design museum, designer maker user exhibition., available at:
Guest (2016), Why Hashtag Matter for Today’s Brands
Fiona Carson and Claire Pajaczkowska (2000) feminist visual culture
Francis Brady, Culture and Events, 5th April 2017, available at:
Jill Morton, Colour Professor, available at:
Nicholas Mirzoeff (13 May 1999), An introduction to visual culture
Purdy, S. (2016). Are You a Chameleon?. Available at:
Tom Himpe, founding partner of Naked Communications (2006) Advertising is dead long live advertising, Published March 23rd 2007 by Thames & Hudson (first published 2006)


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