Discourse and Language in Marketing Communication, with Specific Regard to the Fear of Social Exclusion. A Single Case Study on Apple Inc.
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to analyse the communication of Apple to illustrate how social exclusion is used to produce fear, and how it has played the role as a means of persuasion in a constructed reality. In the present investigation process the researchers have taken a critical stance. The authors aim at unveiling the structure of implicit means of persuasion in various Apple’s campaigns over a 20-year time period. Much of the theories regarding fear appeals in advertising have been based on the field of social marketing, for specific social causes; that is, smoking, driving. Although, it is the researchers’ intention to use those theories as a basis for the empirical material collection as well as the analysis of fear of social exclusion as a means of persuasion in the marketing communication of Apple. The researchers took a social constructivist ontological position and a critical realist epistemological stance. The study is based on a qualitative strategy and inductive approach. The authors used a descriptive single-case study on Apple. Additionally, we defined a timeframe to analyse the data collected in order to conduct a retrospective case study (1993 - 2013). Data were exclusively collected on the digital media platform YouTube, where the virtual observation took place. They were structured by using Fairclough critical discourse analysis framework, and interpreted using the conceptual framework of Civic Fear by Aristotle. Three phases constituting the construction of an advertisement appealing to fear were identified, namely construction, framing and alleviation. These are based on the framework of Aristotle used throughout the investigation process for the selection as well as interpretation of the discourses. The findings have shown that, by deconstructing each advertisement and taking into consideration the context, it was possible to identify how the advertiser made implicit use of social exclusion to produce fear. Although, this was found on an implicit level, hidden by an explicit use of humour or positive emotional condition. It is the authors merit to not only uncover such means of persuasion based on a hidden ideology of fear, but also to explain the construction of the advertisement and the process followed in the creation of fear of social exclusion.
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