Monday, April 28, 2008

Processing in print advertisement

One important issue that comes up in the analysis of advertising is how much of the processing is conscious on the part of the reader, and how much of it is unconscious or unavoidable. It is not easy to avoid at least some comprehension of an advertisement, when you are presented with one. The situation is much like when you are sitting next to a stranger who is talking on a mobile telephone: it is very hard to simply ignore the communication altogether.

Advertising is a form of communication, and we find ourselves participating in many acts of communication every day. It is important to remember that the almost unconscious act of getting the basic meaning of an advertisement is quite different from further issues of interpreting regarding whether you find an advertisement convincing or not, whether you think that it might influence your behavior or not, or whether you approve of the kind of scene and social values that are apparent to you in the advertisement.

The analytic perspective that we present here takes the view that advertising is treated as ordinary communication, and that advertising language is treated as ordinary language. There is ample evidence that this is true. As we go through some of the basic concepts from linguistics that we will use, in Units 2-4, we will see that advertising language is not qualitatively different from ordinary language, and that the ideas from linguistics and semiotics that have been applied in many domains of language and cultural behavior carry over directly to the analysis of advertising. The application of the key concepts of presupposition and relevance with respect to advertisements is based on the idea that readers treat advertisements as normal, rational communication.

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