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The Codes and Conventions of
A general analysis into the advertisement method
of film posters.
What are Film Posters?
• A film poster, in short, is a poster that is used to advertise and promote a
film to its targeted demographic. They do this by giving the audience a
glimpse into the narrative of the film through its use of colour,
iconography and semiotics along with many other codes and conventions
that I will analyse throughout.
• Film posters are extremely important to the promotion of a film due to the
flexibility in their locations. They can be found not only in cinemas but
also, at bus stops, shops and online making it a necessity for them to be
appealing to the target audience. Film posters are useful for distributors as
they help they film reach a wide demographic which in turn helps to
generate a hype around the film and draw a larger audience.
Film Posters: Genre
• There are many features of film posters that work in cohesion
to create a successful advertisement. The most important
feature of a film poster is that its genre is immediately clear to
the audience through the codes, conventions, colour scheme
and iconography as this will ensure that the poster is drawing
in the correct target audience and demographic. If this does
not happen, the film will risk having its audience mislead into
what the film entails which could lead to bad reviews through
word of mouth and through people expressing their
disappointment on social media platforms such as Twitter.
Film Posters: Iconography
• An icon is a person or an item that is a
representative symbol. This means that icons
can be symbolic of something in the film which
is why they are commonly used film posters.
They allow for audiences to have a deeper
understanding into the genre of the film so
they are able to immediately tell if the film is
something that would interest them or not.
This again helps for companies to target their
• In this film poster for The Avengers, the
iconography clearly defines which genre the
film will fall into. The burning building
represents danger and excitement which, in
conjunction with the superheroes, tells the
audience that this is an action film.
Film Poster: Images
• Another convention of film posters is to
have one main image which purpose is to
grab the audience’s attention immediately.
This is important due to the fact that film
posters are seen usually by pedestrians who
are walking past and therefore the purpose
of the image is to stop them in their tracks.
The image tends to be of one or more of the
characters in the film. In some cases, like
the La La Land film poster, the image is a
shot from the film. The iconography shows
the two characters dancing which shows the
audience that this film is a musical.
Film Poster: Cast and Creative
• The main actors, director and producer are
commonly found on film posters as, if well-
known, they can help to draw the audience’s
intrigue about what the film is about. This is
also what gives the film a USP or unique
selling point from other films of their genre.
By promoting the actors and director of the
film, consumers may be more likely to see the
Film Poster: Title
• It is extremely common for the title of the film to
be found on the film poster purely because it
helps the audience quickly learn what the film is
called and in turn what it may be about. This will
help the consumer make a quick decision on
whether they are interested in the film or not.
• Having said this, there are times when film
posters do not need to put the film’s title on. This
is usually the case for large franchises where the
character’s face is so well known that the title is