Beyond Visual Metaphor. a New Typology of Visual Rhetoric in Advertising

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Marketing Theory
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Beyond Visual Metaphor: A New Typology of Visual Rhetoric in Advertising Barbara J. Phillips and Edward F. McQuarrie Marketing Theory 2004 4: 113 DOI: 10.1177/1470593104044089 The online version of this article can be found at: http://mtq.sagepub.com/content/4/1-2/113

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Volume 4(1/2): 113–136 Copyright © 2004 SAGE www.sagepublications.com DOI: 10.1177/1470593104044089

articles

Beyond visual metaphor: A new typology of visual rhetoric in advertising Barbara J. Phillips
University of Saskatchewan, Canada

Edward F. McQuarrie
Santa Clara University, USA

Abstract. The goal of rhetorical theory is always to organize the possibilities for persuasion within a domain and to relate each possible stratagem to specific desired outcomes. In this article we develop a visual rhetoric that differentiates the pictorial strategies available to advertisers and links them to consumer response. We propose a new typology that distinguishes nine types of visual rhetorical figures according to their degree of complexity and ambiguity. We then derive empirically testable predictions concerning how these different types of visual figures may influence such consumer responses as elaboration and belief change. The article concludes with a discussion of the importance of marrying textual analysis, as found in literary, semiotic and rhetorical disciplines, with the experimental methodology characteristic of social and cognitive psychology. Key Words advertising figurative speech image metaphor picture rhetoric semiotics typology





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Introduction
A distinctive feature of advertising, relative to other contemporary forms of human communication, is its reliance on pictures to persuade. Moreover, documentary evidence suggests that, in print ads, the emphasis on pictures over words has steadily increased throughout the last century (Leiss et al., 1986; Phillips and McQuarrie, 2003; Pollay, 1985). Unfortunately, there is still little consumer or marketing theory available for differentiating and organizing the variety of pictorial stratagems on display in advertising (Malkewitz et al., 2003). We take a rhetorical approach to organizing and understanding ad pictures (e.g. McQuarrie

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marketing theory 4(1/2) articles

and Mick, 1996, 2003a; Scott, 1994a, 1994b). That is, we assume that advertisers select pictorial elements from a palette; that specific pictorial elements can be linked to particular consumer responses; and, most important, that the palette of available pictorial elements has an internal structure such that the location of a pictorial element within this structure indicates the kind of impact that the pictorial element can be expected to have. The goal of this article is to delineate that internal structure for one type of advertising picture – the kind that can be considered analogous to verbal metaphor, or verbal rhetorical figures more generally. As an example, we propose that the Tide ad shown in Figure 1 represents a visual rhetorical figure where liquid laundry detergent is compared to the sky. Although a variety of categorizations and classifications for rhetorical figures have been developed over the centuries (e.g. Corbett and Connors, 1999; Plett, 2001; Wenzel, 1990), the new typology makes a unique contribution by first, focusing on rhetorical figures constructed from visual rather than verbal...
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