Visual metaphor in commercial ad: effectiveness or failure?

Keywords: advertising, visual metaphor, blending, implicature, visual grammar, scale of innovation


Based on the modern approaches to the study of multimodal pragmatics, this study focuses on its new facet, identifying the correlation between cognitive and pragmatic features of visual metaphor with reference to visual grammatical analysis and Optimal Innovation Hypothesis added by explanatory tools of the conceptual blending Theory and Relevance Theory along with cooperative principle. The purpose of the article is to analyze the visual message of commercial advertising while assessing its successfulness / failure in accordance with the sequentially applied criteria of “the level of metaphorical polysemanticity and ambiguity”, “the availability of the relevant context of interpretation”, “the level of optimal innovativeness”. The paper reached four principal results. First. The visual metaphor flouts one or few cooperatіve maxims, which triggers discursive implicature. Second. Depending on the level of implicitness and polysemanticity of the visual metaphor, the result of the maxim flouting can be both implicature and explicature. If the inference of the implicature is intended by an advertising message, but requires excessive efforts to process visual information in lack of relevant context, the level of the metaphor interpretation remains explicature. Third. “Explicature” and “implicature” levels of visual metaphor interpretation are associated with different stages of blending processes. Inference of discursive implicature, which constitutes the intended meaning of the metaphor, coincides with the stage of the blend elaboration; Fourth. Depending on the balance between the level of familiarity and innovativeness, the components of a visual metaphor can be ranked on the scale of “attractiveness” for the target client—from optimally innovative to pure innovative devices.


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How to Cite
Kravchenko, N., & Yudenko, O. (2021). Visual metaphor in commercial ad: effectiveness or failure?. Cognition, Communication, Discourse, (23), 62-71.