Advertisements isolate moments and place them in a context in which particular meanings are suggested to the viewer. Helmut Newton that if you can catch the eye of the prospective buyer with spirited layout, background and imaginative, even adventurous, content then you will give them something to think about and talk about and encourage spending.
We see in an advertisement, both in the image and the context in which it is placed, such as, magazine, television, billboard, and so on, signs arranged to suggest connections and thereby various interpretations. The viewer adds their own assumptions and arrives at what it means to him.
Consumers come to meanings by interpreting the signs they see in fashion images. Ferdinand De Saussure, in founding semiology, the study of signs, described language, both textual and visual, in terms of signs, dividing those signs in turn into signifieds and signifiers. The signifier is the perceptive side of a sign, what we see or hear, as the word on the page or the sound form in speech. The signified is the semantic side, the mental construction or image associated with the image or sound, by the person perceiving the object. A sign is essentially a relationship between signified and signifier, and signs gain their meaning from their relationships and contrasts with other signs.
A sign, such as a word or an image, is a matter of social convention. Take, for example, a photo of a bottle of wine. It has a cost value, what is paid to buy it, and a use value, that it can be drunk. However, the context in which it is placed also creates meaning. if the bottle of wine is shown in a luxurious setting, it has a sign value which is prestige and wealth.
Baudrillard claims that commodities are not only to be characterized by cost value and use value - as in Marx’s theory of the commodity - but also sign value - the expression and mark of style, prestige, luxury, power, and so on .