Advertising Myths in Modern Text-Image Ad Formats
In the advertising industry today, it is notable that the use of visual elements such as images is fast growing. Earlier ads stated their messages mostly via the textual medium, but in the contemporary advertising the use of images has become more and more common and the relationship between text and visual image became complementary (Leiss et al. 1990: 199). It is up to the readers to decode the intended message that the advertiser conveys. The advertiser’s aim is to make the message more ambiguous. How the reader will interpret it depends on their understanding of the elements (textual and visual) that constitute the ad and how these elements complement each other. According to Leiss et al. (1990: 198), semiotics is a method that is used in studying social phenomena. As far as advertising discourse is concerned, it is one of the fields in which meaning must be inhered and thus can be investigated from the standpoint of semiotics. The French theorist Roland Barthes was one of the first to apply semiotic tools in analyzing popular culture (including advertising discourse), In his work Barthes presents advertising as a myth, which he defines as a type of speech. It can refer to how an ad is presented to us, i.e. which techniques (verbal or non-verbal) are exploited as persuasive tools. Also Barthes (1972: 107) points out that ‘everything can be a myth provided it is conveyed by a discourse’. Myths can be expressed by both writing and some sort of representation (images, drawings etc.). In this sense, when analyzing an ad (text plus image, for instance) we are dealing with that particular image, which is given for that particular signification.
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