Semiotics: The study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation …In other words, the way in which we know that the word tree, means the object tree, or how a red light, forces one to stop. Semiotics accounts for how and why this automatic knowledge and reaction occurs, through the means of a denotation and a connotation, a signifier and a signified.
Confused? Let me break it down further – obviously, my interpretations of the picture below will differ greatly from those who do not follow the ‘Dexter’ series and only have this advertisement to go by, but that is semiotics in action!
Denotation of this advertisement: this is the ‘signifier’ (what is actually present in the image itself, the things that give meaning). In the case above, there is an image of a man dressed in all white, kneeling with his hands folded in front of him. The red blood splatter on his jacket coincides with the red font above him; there is also text beside and below him.
Connotation of this advertisement: this is the ‘signified’ (what is evoked in the mind, the mental concept that follows). For those who have never watched Dexter, nor are familiar with his character, would see no further than his composed, yet somewhat cheeky facial expression and the casual positioning of his body regardless of the incriminating blood spatter on the top right of his jacket, where the heart lies. The phrase “Handsome devil Dexter Morgan” would seem standard, the man depicted is relatively handsome to most, yet “The serial killer you could take home to Mom” would confuse a foreign audience, what kind of a person would bring a serial killer home to meet their mother?
As for regular Dexter fans, myself, and my mother for that matter, who watch Dexter religiously will know that cheeky grin too well, and the blood splatter on his jacket is representative of both his job as a ‘blood spatterist’ for the Miami Police Department and his other ‘occupation,’ as a serial killer -the positioning of the blood in front of his heart is associated with Dexter’s continual questioning of his ‘soul’ and its existence. Claiming “Handsome devil,” Dexter Morgan lives up to this title incredulously, he is in my opinion an intensely sexy serial killer, working for the police to catch those of a similar descent. “The serial Killer you could bring home to Mom’ insinuates how well hidden his aggressive and murderous traits are, when his ‘dark passenger’ is at bay, he is a loving and caring father, brother and for some part husband who wants the best for those around him, however, his internal struggles place these relationships in constant jeopardy.
-from title; Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
-advert from – http://www.jazjaz.net/2008/11/the-typographic-brilliance-of-the-dexter-print-ads-campaign.html