Visual media throughout Europe and America: A comparison
By Hannah Altman
As exhibited frequently and vigorously throughout the continent, Europe is composed of striking visual media that draws both differences and similarities to advertising in the United States. Comparing the three different countries of England, the Netherlands, and the United States yields conclusions regarding the current state of the visual media within them.
London is a bustling city, much like America’s New York City. In the same regard, the large majority of visual media throughout the city was quick witted, flashy, and modern. One significant form of visual communication was advertising in London’s subway, commonly referred to as the Tube. Throughout the underground structure, there were digital signs that moved almost like GIFs. Three to four seconds of advertising content looped endlessly as commuters went up and down the escalators to get to their destination. Clothing ads were the most frequent moving advertisement that was observed.
The International Media class learned how some of this work is created. BMB, an independent advertising agency in London, is a major contributing company in terms of innovation; two of their employees made flashy and color-filled ads for Adidas that strictly ran online. Battenhall, another company in London, follows a similar approach through social media. Founder Drew Benvie fervently grants his employees creative control over their projects. London aims to impress the audience; with flashy and innovative tactics, these two agencies told the class they achieve this notion.
Amsterdam, the evident cultural hub of the Netherlands, is a city filled with visual media. The emblem of the city, “IAmsterdam,” is a strong example of the city’s advertising initiative to combine the current city with the cultural history of Amsterdam. The tourists who visit the city outnumber the number of actual residents, so naturally the surrounding advertising is aimed at tourists. A major ploy is the idea of freedom: marijuana and prostitution is legal, in addition to the city being the first to legalize gay marriage.
Throughout the city, advertisements for tourist attractions are carried out in such a way that the consumer experience is prioritized. The city as a whole wants tourists to learn about history and immerse themselves in culture. They are also more interested in portraying the consumer as a real person in advertisements.
The class learned this carries over into traditional media at visits to two Amsterdam newspapers.The cover of a magazine that is part of DeVolksrant, the No. 3 national paper in terms of circulation, portrays a young athlete; the image is a striking comparison to America’s magazine covers because the cover star is untouched in Photoshop. When asked about the lack of retouching, Melle Drenthe, the assistant to the editor in chief of the publication, said that the Netherlands media places less significance on making their subjects look perfect.
The United States, in comparison to London and Amsterdam, proves to have striking differences and similarities in regards to visual media. While the United States also provides advertisements specifically to tourists, it is apparent that the Netherlands relies on the tourism industry significantly more, thus producing tourist-directed media. Amsterdam is known worldwide to be a liberal, welcoming city, and its advertising strengthens that idea. Amsterdam and America differ in their standards of visual imagery as well; America is known to Photoshop models into perfection, where Amsterdam instead chooses a more humanizing approach for the subjects of their visual media. The United States and England are similar in regards to major city size and feel when comparing New York City and London. They differ in the way that where London has thousands of years of history behind it to exhibit, America only has a few hundred years. The two locations are similar, however, in regards to appealing to a mass crowd. There’s something for everyone in both London and NYC, and for this reason the two places produce similar flashy imagery aimed to catch the attention of the consumer.