Exploring the rhetorical semiotic brand image structure of ad films with multivariate mapping techniques

Semiotica 2014 (200):335-358 (2014)
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Abstract
The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the applicability of multivariate mapping techniques to the exploration of the rhetorical semiotic brand image structure of ad films. By drawing on correspondence analysis and multidimensional scaling, two techniques that are amply used in corpus linguistics and in marketing research, but also on the data reduction technique of factor analysis, it will be displayed how a set of nuclear semes and classemes or an intended semic structure that underlies ad filmic discursive structures may be projected alongside rhetorical figures by its internal stakeholders (i.e., a brand management team, an account planning team or a marketing research team) with view to attaining differential brand associations. The illustration of the exploratory analytical methods takes place by recourse to a corpus of 62 ad filmic texts from 13 sub-brands of the 3 major brands in the UK cereals market and 321 ad filmic segments that resulted from the segmentation procedure. This paper seeks to contribute to advancements in the brand image and advertising rhetoric research streams by addressing distinctive modes of advertising rhetorical configuration at the level of the ad filmic text (as against print ads where the bulk of research on advertising rhetoric has concentrated), and moreover on a segment-by-segment level, rather than treating the ad film as a standalone unit of analysis, by adopting a multimodal outlook to advertising configurations that takes into account not only the verbal or the visual mode, but also interactions among modes, by adopting a product category-specific approach to advertising/brand textuality that draws on rhetorical semiotics and by employing exploratory statistical methods against the background of content analytic output.
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