Polysemy in Advertising

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Polysemy in Advertising

Su Mei Koh 344185

INTRODUCTION The world of advertising is continually evolving, as consumer culture shifts to incorporate cultural ideologies that have become increasingly progressive over time. A growing body of research has helped shed light on a genre of advertising steeped in ambiguity and void of traditional executional design elements, as deliberate obscurity is designed to appeal to a wider range of consumers and induce higher elaboration and involvement with the message (Williamson, 1978). While the ambiguity appeal is not a novelty in advertising, the idea of ‘open-­‐text advertisements’ –ads that are open to multiple interpretations and do not eliminate alternative meanings’-­‐ have led to the notion of polysemy (Warlaumont, 1995).

Puntoni, Schroeder & Ritson (2010:6) define advertising polysemy as “the existence of at least two distinct interpretations for the same advertising message across audiences, or across time and situations.” Theoretically this implies that polysemous advertising can bear multiple meanings and can be interpreted in a

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