Code-X (14)
By: Joshua Glenn | Categories: Codebreaking, Semiotics, Utopia

Sentry Investments ad: stock ticker symbols UP for “Big Picture” and “Windex,” DOWN for “Rose-Coloured Glasses.”

Call this financial services category code: Boomer Visionquest.

Definition: Throughout their lives, Boomers have sought inspiration in visionary “eureka” moments. This generational tendency is exploited via investment and other financial services advertising.


Notes on this code: Metaphors of vision, liminality and transformation (bridges, windows), rational yet utopian plan for change (rainbow made of bar graphs is a nice touch). Tricky balance between scare tactics — your financial situation is insecure! — and appeal to Boomer faith that nothing truly bad will ever befall their generation.




MORE SEMIOSIS at HILOBROW: Towards a Cultural Codex | CODE-X series | DOUBLE EXPOSURE Series | CECI EST UNE PIPE series | Star Wars Semiotics | Icon Game | Meet the Semionauts | Show Me the Molecule | Science Fantasy | Inscribed Upon the Body | The Abductive Method | Enter the Samurai | Semionauts at Work | Roland Barthes | Gilles Deleuze | Félix Guattari | Jacques Lacan | Mikhail Bakhtin | Umberto Eco



Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based semiotic culture and brand analyst. He is editor/publisher of HILOBROW and the Radium Age science fiction imprint HILOBOOKS. In addition, Josh is co-author of several books, including (with Mark Kingwell and the cartoonist Seth) THE IDLER'S GLOSSARY and THE WAGE SLAVE'S GLOSSARY, the object-oriented story collections TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY and (with Rob Walker) SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS, and (with Elizabeth Foy Larsen) the family activities guides UNBORED, UNBORED GAMES, and the forthcoming UNBORED ADVENTURE. In the ’00s, Josh was an editor and columnist for the BOSTON GLOBE's IDEAS section; in the ’90s, he published the high-lowbrow zine/journal HERMENAUT.