n De Arte - Theorising sameness and difference in South African television advertisements : research

Volume 2008, Issue 78
  • ISSN : 0004-3389



An overview of current television advertisements suggests that the pre- and post-1994 endeavour to engage directly and explicitly with the differences that constitute this rainbow nation seem to be declining. I find this unfortunate as we are, after all, still a divided nation where pretending otherwise does not solve problems. Furthermore, advertisements that engage with differences are, as argued, often artistically creative and exciting, whereas those that are predicated on human sameness tend to be tired and predictable. This article also argues that advertisements that exploit human sameness are generally speaking more morally dubious than those that engage with human differences. The first part of this article starts by outlining the Continental endeavour to theorise an aesthetic of sameness, drawing parallels with South African branding strategies that advertently or inadvertently subscribe to such an aesthetic. The second part explains the poststructural argument for 'difference' and analyses how this argument opens the way to understand advertisements as being exceptionally well appointed for the metaphoric creation of new meanings.

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