Cars and Environmental Values : A Rhetoric and Semiotics Analysis of How Environmental CSR values are communicated on webpages at General Motors, Hyundai and Volkswagen

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Abstract: This study is performed by conducting a rhetoric and semiotics analysis on the ‘About Us’-section of the webpages of General Motors, Hyundai and Volkswagen with the aim of finding how the companies used environmental values in their marketing communication. The interest in the topic is a consequence of the challenge that the car industry is facing, to increase their environmental activities in order to please the public as well as the costumers.   The analysis is performed using semiotics, brand mythology and the rhetorical tools of metaphor, personification, presupposition and business rhetoric. The key theoretical concepts are corporate social responsibility, marketing communication, corporate identity and competitiveness paradox.   The results show that environmental values are not a central topic in the companies marketing communication. The majority of the pictures have connotations towards traditional market values such as design and high technology. There is also a big presence of rhetorical tools in the texts showing that the companies attempt to persuade and affect the visitors of the webpage.   One issue faced in performing the study was the vastness of the material. The webpages provided a lot of content that was not up for analysis in this case but that would have been of great interest to study.

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