The use of semiotics and pragmatics in printed advertisements : How consumers make sense of advertisements in relation to established theories

University essay from Högskolan i Halmstad/Akademin för lärande, humaniora och samhälle

Abstract: This essay is a study which is intended to explore how a well-known makeup company, M.A.C., uses semiotics and pragmatics in their advertisements and how the consumer’s reaction corresponds with what is proposed in the theories. Three printed advertisements were analyzed by the author and six qualitative interviews were conducted with Swedish women of different ages. The analysis of the advertisements identified semiotic and pragmatic features including linguistic and non-linguistic signs, cultural myths, metaphors, similes, pronouns, deixis, visual parallelism as well as the use of Relevance Theory such as enrichment. The results revealed that M.A.C. Cosmetics marketing strategies correlate to, or can be explained by, key theories within pragmatics and semiotics. The results of the interviews show that the majority of the interviewees react correspondingly with what is proposed in the Theoretical Background chapter and the research has validated the theories and confirmed them as useful and effective analytical tools for examining advertising texts. It was also established that the ​advertiser appears to be aware, consciously or not, of​ the cognitive processes involved​ ​in the interpretation of advertisements which Relevance Theory explains, such as enrichment.

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