By Chris Granat
Ideological targeting is a technique used by producers to sell their products or ideals by aiming their ads at a large spectrum of people while still highlight the ‘you’ in the advertisement. Ideology can be explained as the manner in which one views a certain subject or idea based on their own set of standards and viewpoints. Advertisements try to emphasize individuality so that it feels like they are directly talking to you the viewer, and so that you feel like you are a part of a group of individuals that are expected and/or need to use the product; this is called interpellation, which is a connection between viewers and the images and ideas they see in any assortment of media types.
An example of an ad using ideological targeting would be the United States Army ad which campaigned the slogan ‘Army of One’ from 2001 to 2006. This slogan made the army seem like a place for you to make a difference for your country and a place for you to improve and express your individuality. The slogan was discontinued due to the fact that teamwork is a necessary aspect of the army and was contradicted by the slogan. The ‘Army of One’ appealed to a generation of video game players who were used to playing video games by themselves – even their current website (http://www.goarmy.com/) glamorizes the army in a way similar to movies and video games, displaying vivid images and movie clips of soldiers taking aim in a special ops suit, fixing cars, and operating radio equipment while the grim reality of war and death are vastly underplayed.
By stressing the positive aspects (however unrealistic or unlikely they are), people are able to sell their products and, what’s more, are just as easily able to sell their ideas. Because there are so many depictions of soldiers as being tough, stoic, and well train men, consumers nearly automatically associate joining the army with masculinity. So as a viewer, one might think, “if I want to be a real man, I should join the army,” which is exactly the idea these kinds of commercials are trying to sell. By using the statistical fact that most people accessing the army internet site are teenage guys, the web designers are able to tailor their images and ads to suit the viewer – using ideologies held by most teenage boys to target the largest and most relevant audience they can.
Even though the army’s new slogan is ‘Army Strong’ we can still make the argument that it’s targeting you as the viewer, they’ve just found other less obvious ways of using interpellation. ‘Army Strong’ gives the impression that you will be strong as a team, but also hints at the idea that you will improve your strength as an individual which again brings it back to being all about you.