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

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Marketing Theory 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:

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McQuarrie and Mick, 1996) do not adequately capture important differentiations within the visual domain. After developing and illustrating the typology, we suggest avenues for empirical investigation, specifying the particular cognitive processes that we expect to be differentially affected by different categories of visual rhetorical figures. Among the more important contributions of the typology is its demonstration of how concepts from art theory, semiotics and kindred disciplines can be linked to concepts drawn from social cognition in a manner susceptible to empirical study.

A typology of visual rhetorical figures
Defining visual rhetoric in ads
We follow McQuarrie and Mick (1996) in defining a rhetorical figure as an artful deviation in form that adheres to an identifiable template. Thus, the headline ‘Can’t say no to pistachio’ is a rhetorical figure because it deviates in its arrangement of sounds from an ordinary sentence. However, readers do not consider this deviation to be an error because they have encountered this kind of repetition of syllables many times and have learned to treat it as a rhyme. Similarly, when readers encounter the verbal pun ‘Why weight for success?’ in an ad for the Diet Center, they understand it as a play on a word with two meanings (i.e. ‘weight’ and ‘wait’). Because the number of templates is limited and because consumers encounter the same template over
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