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Chapter 9 reports findings from a study that investigated cross-cultural variation and gender variation in the responses given by participants to marketing videos. It aims to answer the following research questions: To what extent does the figurative make-up of marketing videos evoke different emotions in British and Chinese participants, and how does this affect the extent to which they like and share videos? And to what extent does the figurative make-up of marketing videos evoke different emotions between men and women, and how does this affect the extent to which they like and share videos? With respect to cultural/linguistic background, Chinese respondents are found to be more likely to be surprised by the videos than British respondents, but British respondents are more likely to report negative emotions along with fear and stress. These relationships are sometimes strengthened and sometimes mitigated by the presence of resemblance metaphor, correlational metaphor, dramatic irony, hyperbole, and understatement. Chinese participants are more likely than British participants to indicate that they would share positive and surprising advertisements. In contrast, British participants are more likely than Chinese participants to indicate that they would share negative and frightening/stressful advertisements. With respect to gender, female respondents reported stronger emotional reactions than male respondents, as well as higher levels of appreciation than male respondents. The levels of appreciation and sharing intent expressed by both genders are influenced in a similar way by the emotions that the videos provoked, but male participants are more likely than female respondents to appreciate frightening and/or stressful advertisements.
Chapter 11 shows how figurative messaging can be used in the most optimal way in advertising campaigns and branding exercises. It provides recommendations designed to help practitioners to make informed choices about the use of figurative messaging in their campaigns and to anticipate possible outcomes and pitfalls. It covers issues such as the way in which metaphor works as a ‘disruptor’, how people experience and interact with metaphor, the different ways in which figurative messaging can be used creatively, how this relates to fast and slow thinking, and the ways in which figurative messaging can be made to appeal to different audiences.
Chapter 7 describes a study investigating cross-cultural differences in the ways in which the visual layout and colours are used figuratively in the design of app icons for food-related products and services in two very different cultures: the US and Japan. The study shows how the different colour-meaning associations that operate in these countries shape the designers’ choice of colour for the background of apps for different products (food and beverages) and services (including cooking, food delivery, exploration of new recipes, and calorie-counting). The presence of both metaphor and metonymy in the app icons is found to be comparable across the two cultures, with high levels of metonymy across the board. However, when metaphor or metonymy are used in the Japanese app icons, they are more likely to appear in clusters, whereas in the US app icons, they are more likely to appear in isolation. Both cultures use mainly schematic app icons, but the Japanese app icons are more likely to be content-rich than the US ones. In terms of the visual layout, verbo-pictorial images are most popular across the board; in addition to this, Japanese apps tend to be more visual than the US apps. Apps that appear towards the top of the downloads ranking in both the US and in Japan were more likely to contain metonymy but not necessarily metaphor. These apps are more likely to be schematic and are more likely to contain combinations of words and images. Taken together, the findings suggest that app designs are closely related to the product and service being provided by the app. They also suggest that schematic, metonymic apps that contain combinations of words and images are most likely to be successful in both cultures, but that different designs are preferred by the different cultures, with Japanese app culture being more visual than US app culture.
Chapter 8 explores the role played by figurative language in marketing videos and examines the emotional impact of different kinds of figurative language. It investigates whether there are any combinations of figurative messaging and emotional arousal that predict the success of a marketing video, in terms of how much a video is appreciated and the extent to which viewers would be willing to share the video with others. The aim is to establish whether there is an optimal combination of figurative language type and emotional resonance that makes a video more likely to become popular. The main findings are that hyperbole and dramatic irony enhance the feelings of surprise, positive emotions, and stress and fear in viewers. None of the figurative operations investigated trigger negative emotions. Videos need to be impactful to be liked; the important thing is to have an emotional impact, regardless of whether it is positive or negative.
Chapter 1 looks at the range of figurative language types that can be found in advertising, discusses how and why they are used creatively and reports findings from studies that have explored the relative advantages of different combinations of metaphor and metonymy. It introduces key concepts such as metaphor, hyperbole, understatement, metonymy, and illustrates how they work alone and in combination in effective advertising. The chapter then explores ways of exploiting the creative potential of figurative messaging. These include the use of personification, shock tactics, anaphoric reference, innuendo, and narrative structure. Finally, it shows how figurative language can be used effectively in advertisements to convey humour and irony.
Chapter 5 reports findings from a study which explores the impact of viewing time on people’s responses to metaphor and metonymy when used alone and in combination, and when presented with varying degrees of visual complexity. The study addresses the following question: Do people appreciate a simple but enigmatic metaphoric image, or do they prefer a detailed image containing plenty of cues as to the intended figurative meaning of the advertisement? In other words: Do people prefer schematic or content rich figurative advertisements? The findings from the study show that viewers are most likely to find advertisements that contain metaphor and that are content-rich to be more engaging. Metaphor is even more likely to be appreciated when it is presented in a content-rich design. Persuasiveness ratings for both metaphor and metonymy increase when people are given longer to view the advertisement. The meanings that people identify in advertisements are strongly shaped by their personal interests and their levels of familiarity with the product, which are in turn sometimes mediated by nationality and gender. Need for cognition affects people’s ability to find meaning in advertisements containing metaphor and metonymy.
Chapter 2 considers aspects of visual design and explores the advantages and disadvantages of different forms of layout. It discusses the ways in which advertisers make use of visual resources to represent metaphors and metonymies. It shows how the same metaphor can be represented in multiple different ways leading to different processing or pragmatic effects. The chapter shows how two key dimensions of creativity (meaning and form) work together in the production and reception of figurative meaning in the context of advertising. It first reviews the ways in which scholars have operationalised ‘visual complexity’ as an experimental variable, and reports findings from the few studies that have attempted to measure its impact. It then proposes a new distinction based on the degree of schematicity versus content richness of the metaphorical/metonymic image. Schematic images contain very few visual elements to help the consumer interpret the message, whilst content-rich images contain numerous details on which the consumer can draw. In the final section, the chapter introduces another tool that advertisers can exploit in order to maximise the impact of visual creativity: that of colour.
Chapter 10 reports the impact of the authors’ work on the success of three advertising campaigns and rebranding projects that were developed by an advertising agency. The chapter demonstrates how research into the optimal use of figurative messaging in advertising campaigns and rebranding exercises can lead to increased effectiveness, measured using industry criteria as well academic criteria. The chapter identifies practical ways of fostering the right amount of cognitive effort on the part of the reader. In some cases, this involves manipulating the text, and in others it involves adjusting the level of content-richness in the image. The chapter shows how a partnership between academics and advertising practitioners can further the theoretical understanding of the ways in which figurative language is processed and the factors that are likely to render it both effective and affective.
Metaphor, where one entity is talked about in terms of another unrelated entity, is a powerful and widely used device in advertising. For example, cars are talked about as if they were animals. Household devices are presented as if they were people, and washing powders are talked about as if they were superheroes. Although metaphor sometimes works on its own in advertising, it is more common for it to operate in combination with other tropes, such as metonymy, irony, and hyperbole. Moreover, it rarely appears solely in a linguistic form but often manifests in other, non-linguistic forms of expression. This is particularly pertinent in advertisements that involve new media, such as internet fora, viral advertising campaigns, and social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. Metaphor and other forms of figurative communication are inherently flexible, which makes them ideal for use in diverse cultural settings, as they can mean different things to different people. At the same time this carries an element of risk, as they are often open to misinterpretation.