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Exploring Multimodal Metaphor (and Metonymy) in Advertising

Project reference: EMMA-658079

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Metaphor and metonymy are key tools in communication, particularly when abstract ideas or emotions are discussed. While extant literature addresses metaphor in language and images, little has dealt with the combination of metaphor and metonymy in the multimodal context of advertising, where they play a key role. The EMMA fellowship aims to explore this by testing figurative complexity and emotions, the impact of these on comprehension, accuracy of interpretation and advertising effectiveness. It involves an interdisciplinary study that combines cognitive and physiological psychology with linguistic and marketing interpretations. A mixed-methods approach of lab experiments and qualitative inquiry will assess the speed and depth of comprehension, the perceived appeal, and the physiological effect of static and video advertisements on participants from three linguistic and cultural backgrounds (English, Spanish, and Chinese). If advertisers, charities and NGOs target, and are sensitive to, linguistic and cultural differences in metaphors, local and international communities can benefit from specific, appropriate and ethical advertising.

This project is based at the University of Birmingham and will run from October 2015 to October 2017.


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