It’s Just an Illusion

The use of creative imagery has always played an important role in advertising. All types of companies and organizations use it. The fact that we are always in contact with ads is an important factor for these advertisers. One such organization that has used advertisements and visuals to promote their cause is the Salvation Army. The_Salvation_Army.svgUnlike many groups however they are not trying to sell products but sell idea instead. Their goal is selling ideas is so that they can continue to provide care to all who are suffering. In this particular advertisement, which is promoting the awareness of domestic abuse, created by the Salvation Army and their abuse shelter Care Haven they use popular imagery to create a dauntless statement that will grab the viewers attention as well as cause them to reevaluate their present perception of abuse.

The background of the image is a dark gray color. The creator has done this so that the focus of the picture will remain in the center. The whole ad is taken up with the body of a woman. To keep the woman the main focus they have also made the description of the ad simple and to the far right side of the image. This way when the audience looks at the ad their attention will be immediately drawn to the center. The woman who is modeling for the ad is lying on her side in the position often used when trying to show of the model’s figure or to advertise the clothing that the ad is trying to sell. She is a white woman with long, dirty blonde hair. The imagery that this provides us with is the stereotypical idea we often have of what a typical woman looks like. She is both elegant and attractive. Her nails are painted and she is wearing makeup. This suggests that she cares about her appearance and values how others see her. The appearance of the woman gives her credibility in the eyes of the viewer. By being well put together she lets the audience know that she is trustworthy, well kempt, and probably an overall good person.

When the viewer initially takes in the woman they see her as someone they can associate with. Whether she reminds them of themselves or a friend or relative she presents a familiar face. The beauty of the woman is quickly put aside however as the viewer’s attention is drawn to the dark spots that cover the woman’s body. The black and blue welts are spread out across the woman’s legs, face, and wrist. By placing the bruises in these specific places the ad is showing the locations of physical abuse usually done by a husband or partner. The bruise on her wrist represent the times when she was grabbed roughly on her arm, the bruises on her face for when she said something she wasn’t supposed to, and then the bruises on her legs from where she was kicked after being pushed to the floor. The creator has placed the bruises in spots where signs of abuse are most commonly found or spotted by others.

The second part of the ad that grabs the viewer’s attention next would have to be the dress that the woman is wearing. Due to the bruises all over the woman’s body you would think that she would try and cover them up but that is not the case here. The creator has intentionally dressed her in a figuring hugging, short length dress. However this isn’t just any normal dress. It is “The dress” that went viral in February of 2015. The reason for its fame came from the argument over whether the dress was black and blue or white and gold. The dispute went on for quite some time as each person saw the dress as a different color. The dress was thought to be an illusion but the original was finally declared to be black and blue by the owner.

The creator of this ad has used this Internet craze to tie it to the point of the ad. They are hoping that the stir that this dress caused would also cause a similar reaction with the ad. They want people to discuss and argue over whether or not abuse is something prevalent. Because only by arguing and discussing will there be any real conclusion. No solution can come if people are passive and choose not to argue over the “color.” The ad makes the connection between the dress and the abuse by saying “The only illusion is if you think it was her choice.” By stating this the Salvation Army is challenging the viewer to disagree with them. They don’t want the talk of abuse to just be whispers behind closed doors they want it to be spread all over the media, just like the dress, so that everyone can be apart of making a change. They want people to voice their opinions of abuse; whether they view it only as an illusion or if they are aware of the real colors.


The woman in the image is looking straight at the viewer. The importance of eye contact is needed for this particular ad. They say that eyes are the windows to the soul and this is true as it as her eyes that draw people in. By having the sullen eyes meet the eyes of the audience the ad is able to make a connection between the two. This connection makes the ad more personal and connects the woman in the image to women the viewer may know personally. Although the look is somber it is not begging. It is as if she is not asking you to help her but instructing you to. She has decided that she can no longer wait for someone to notice her pain so she is reminding the audience that if they do not become aware of her situation soon it will be too late. Her abuse as well as that of many other women will not stop. Her demand is not one that makes people back away but instead holds them firm reminding them of their responsibility. Having this personal connection with the woman will stir the viewer into spending more time looking at the ad. With this they will find out its meaning and in the end hopefully agree with it.

By portraying a woman in a dress that was argued over as being either white and gold or black and blue the creator of the ad is asking the audience what they see on the woman. She happens to be wearing the dress in the colors white and gold but the bruises that cover her body are black and blue. This contrast includes both color sets that were argued over. The ad is asking the audience whether what they see is an illusion or if they can see the real thing; the real thing being that abuse does happen. The ad says that “one is 6 women are victims of abuse.” By adding statistics the Salvation Army can provide credibility to their claim. Abuse happens to a lot of women and we need to be on the lookout for it so that we can put an end to it. The ad is hoping that what they see will leave a disturbing image in their mind so in the future they can be aware of what happens to so many women. By creating a powerful message the Salvation Army along with Care Haven have been able to use something as trivial as an argument over a dress to bring awareness of abuse.


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