The American Harold D. Laswell, in 1948 and in the years ahead, made his bid for a communication model. Basically he was interested in determining who says what through what medium to whom and with what effect. These elements put together give a model that looks like this:

‘Who’ is the sender of the communication

‘What’ is what the sender wants to communicate. It could also be called the ‘text’ and should be understood in a very broad sense as the content of a commercial, text message, political speech. In this part of the model you search for the statements or points of the text. Because the text must be understood very broadly, one can use many different methodological angles to analyze the text. One has to choose the methodical approaches that the text itself proposes: If it is an advertising film, it is obvious to look at the use of cinematic means, for example.

  • ” Through which channel ‘is the media in which the text is communicated (text, television interview, YouTube, political speech).
  •  ‘To whom’ is the recipient of the communication.
  • ‘With what effect’ is the intentional effect of the sender.

When a communication is successful, the recipient acts in the way the sender wanted: The communication had the intentional effect, and therefore the choice of text and channel must have been well chosen.

Laswell’s model is also called the ‘cannula model’ with reference to a medical cannula. When a doctor (the sender) injects his medication (text) through the cannula (duct) into the patient (the recipient), the patient gets well.


‘Compared to Cicero’s pentagram, the pentagram’s element’ language ‘can be added to Laswell’s’ media’. It is clear that Cicero did not have the imagination to imagine the many channels through which communication can take place today. In contrast, Laswell’s model does not look at circumstances as an element of the communication model. This was pointed out by theorist Richard Braddock, and he believes that the model further fails to take into account the sender’s purpose; one is what the sender’s text says, something else is the sender’s purpose for the text – and with the communication. And those sizes are not necessarily the same.

     Laswell’s model is therefore good for describing one-way communication, such as political speeches, chronicles, advertisements and other, where there is no dialogue, an interaction.

That the recipient should respond to the sender’s text, the way a patient responds to a physician’s medication, does not always seem to be the case: Much communication shows that recipients do not act on the basis of the text, as the sender otherwise would have liked. Recipients also respond differently to the same text. Some texts you can react positively to, others negatively to, and others you are completely immune to.

For example, it is rare for a teenager to respond to a hearing aid advertisement. Furthermore, today we are so relatively reflected and aware of advertisements and the like that we speak of having a ‘fire wall’ which makes it difficult to pass through to the recipients. We have become immune to a host of advertisements that do not affect. Therefore, Laswell’s model has its limitations.


Based on the criticism raised by Laswell’s communication model, an extended analytical model for analyzing one-way communication can be made.

When this extended model is used as an analysis tool, each element of the model must be analyzed. The contents of the individual elements are discussed below.

Who is the sender?

What purpose does the sender have with the communication? What ideological, organizational or other interests could the sender have with his communication?

The circumstances of the communication are examined. Are there any particular circumstances in which the communication is based, or are there some circumstances to be aware of in connection with the communication? Circumstances are outside the text – in context – and have an impact on communication and may even be the cause of communication. It may be that Matas has developed a new product that they want to make customers aware of through advertising, or that the Prime Minister is speaking at a press conference on crisis in the government based on another party’s distrust of one of the government’s ministers.

The text in which the communication takes place must be analyzed. ‘Text’ is to be understood very broadly – speeches, text messages, movies, YouTube clips, advertisements, poems, nonverbal communication as a flag of flag are all different types of text. The text is analyzed by a text analysis, rhetorical analysis, image analysis, stylistic analysis, cinematic analysis, discourse analysis and / or other analysis relevant to the text in question. Here, one must choose the method that is appropriate for analyzing that particular text. Here, the focus is on “What does the text say and how does it say it?”, As in all other analytical work.

The medium selected must be analyzed. What are the possibilities and limitations of the medium? Is it well-chosen relative to the recipient? And is it well-chosen in terms of message / topic?

Firewall is an expression of the fact that today we are fairly immune to, for example, advertisements, individual politicians, experts or otherwise. The firewall does not allow us to be affected by communication. The firewall can be caused by many things and built up over time and by experience with the world. The firewall creates a form of immunity to communication that tries to change us, change our political views or our consumption.

It may be that you do not have the great confidence of a politician from the Social Democracy or the Left, so every time the politician comes on screen and tries to explain his politics, you shut down. That together happens when we see advertisements without being influenced by them. The sender wants to penetrate the receiver firewall. Particular pull communication is good for getting through to its recipient.

They talk about push / pull communication. Push communication is a communication where the sender sends his text to a wide audience and will hit as many recipients as possible. Pull communication is a communication in which the recipient has increasingly involved himself and sought out the text himself. YouTube is a good example. Some YouTube clips have linked a small promotional video before the actual video (called in-stream ad).

This small advertising video is typically push advertising that seeks to target a wide audience and can also run as television advertising. But the video that you have actually, actively clicked into, is a pull communication, having sought it out yourself. Where push communication activates the recipient’s firewall, pull communication will avoid the recipient’s firewall as the recipient has sought out the text himself. However, during the video, the recipient’s firewall can then be activated if, for example, you discover that the video is actually an advertisement for a product.

Pull communication is difficult to establish, and it is difficult to ensure that the recipient group activates the communication (by looking up videos, for example). Viral advertising or other viral communication is communication that recipients share via Facebook and other social media, thereby making the recipient themselves the sender of the communication.

The fact that communication is viral means that it is shared as a virus and appears on one’s Facebook page because a friend has chosen to share it. Because it is my friend who has shared the advertisement, it increases the likelihood of me seeing it, thereby increasing the possibility of communication reaching past my firewall. Viral advertising is considered relatively successful in trying to reach more recipients, precisely because they slip through the firewall.

The recipient is an analysis of who the recipient can be. Here it may be useful to look at the Minerva model or Gallup’s segment model.

The effect is an analysis of the effect the communication has had. It can be difficult to analyze because it may require interviews (qualitative study) or questionnaires (quantitative study). Another way of analyzing the effect is to see if an advertisement for toothpaste has now also led the manufacturer to sell more tubes of toothpaste. If this was also the purpose of the sender (so purpose and effect are the same), then communication is successful for the toothpaste manufacturer.

An example of a failed communication is Den Danske Bank, which with their image advertising film “A new normal demands new standards” tried to strengthen their brand. This was the purpose of the communication, but the real effect was quite the opposite: Danske Bank was severely criticized for their commercials – their brand was not strengthened, but on the contrary produced as hypocritical.