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Paula Perez-Sobrino is currently visiting Margaret G. Dowens in the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory @ University of Nottingham Ningbo in China  as part of the collaborative project "Exploring Multimodal Metaphor in Advertising" in partnership with the University of Birmingham (UK), University of La Rioja (Spain), and The Metaphor Lab at the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands). As part of this research visit, she will be giving a public talk on Wednesday 30th November for students, postgraduates and staff members at the University of Nottingham-Ningbo (16:00, room AB209). Save the date!

Attendants will have the opportunity to participate in a follow-up study on viral advertising; come by to learn more!

In this presentation I aim to answer a key question that has perplexed marketing experts: What is it about viral marketing campaigns that makes consumers want to engage with the content, and more importantly, their willingness to pass the message on? One feature of viral advertisements that may influence their success rate is the nature of the figurative operations that they contain. Figurative operations have been shown to increase product/brand recognition and recall and consumer preferences (see McQuarrie and Mick, 1999, 2003; Morgan and Reichert, 1999). In this talk I explore whether there is a significant relationship between the degree of consumer engagement in 15 viral and 15 non-viral campaigns and the nature of the underlying figurative operations that they contain. The results show that viral advertising relies on the “surprising element” significantly more than non-viral advertising; that such “surprising elements” can have different forms taking into account the connection between the two domains juxtaposed (for the purposes of this study, I take into account metaphor, metonymy, irony, unmarked contrast, hyperbole and understatement); and that the likelihood that an advertisement will go viral depends not only on the contrast set up by the advertising narrative, but also on the accumulation of multiple figurative operations. 

  • McQuarrie, E. & Mick, D. 1999. “Visual rhetoric in advertising: text interpretive, experimental and reader-response analysis”. Journal of Consumer Research 26: 37–53.
  • McQuarrie, E. & Mick, D. 2003. “The contribution of semiotic and rhetorical perspectives to the explanation of visual persuasion in advertising”. In: L. Scott & R. Batra (eds.), Persuasive Imagery: A Consumer Response Perspective (pp. 191–221). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Morgan, S. & Reichert, T. 1999. The message is in the metaphor: Assessing the comprehension of metaphors in advertisements. Journal of Advertising 28/4: 1-12.
  • Ruiz de Mendoza, F. J. 2011. “Metonymy and cognitive operations”. In: R.Benczes, A. Barcelona, & F. J. Ruiz de Mendoza (eds) Defining metonymy in Cognitive Linguistics. Towards a consensus view (pp. 103–123). Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.