Date of Award

4-2012

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer A. Machiorlatti

Second Advisor

Dr. Heather Addison

Third Advisor

Dr. Jocelyn Steinke

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

This study critically analyzes visual and text updates posted by two clothing brands to the social-networking site Facebook.com, including consumers' interaction with these marketing messages. A semiological textual analysis was conducted using Facebook updates by the Victoria's Secret PINK and Nike Women apparel brands, and the responses of fans who subscribed to these updates. Advertising aimed at women in print media has previously been analyzed in this way, revealing patterns of sexualization and objectification that can be harmful to women and men alike. My analysis builds on this tradition. Social-networking sites such as Facebook allow individual users unprecedented access to respond to corporate marketing messages. This analysis reveals several semiotic codes of femininity marketed to Facebook users by the two brands: "cheekiness," "sweetness," and "spirit" were the three main sign systems found in PINK Facebook posts. "Role-model athleticism," "globalism" and "discipline" were the three main semiotic codes found in Nike Women content. Additional semiotic codes appeared consistently in audience responses as fans accepted, negotiated with, or rejected the signs and codes used by the two brands to portray femininity and the female body.