Professor Jeannette Littlemore (PI), Dr Paula Perez-Sobrino (Post-doctoral Fellow) and Dr David Houghton (Co-I) have been awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship, for the project ‘Exploring Multimodal Metaphor and Metonymy in Advertising’ (EMMA).

Metaphor and metonymy are key tools in communication, particularly when discussing abstract ideas or emotions. While scholarship addresses metaphor in language and images, little has dealt with the combination of metaphor and metonymy in the context of advertising.

The EMMA fellowship (awarded £138,981) aims to redress this gap by undertaking an interdisciplinary study combining lab experiments and qualitative research. The project will assess understanding of metaphor and metonymy, their perceived appeal, and the effect of static and video advertisements on participants from three linguistic and cultural backgrounds: English, Spanish, and Chinese.

Advertising could be more specific, appropriate and ethical if marketers, charities and NGOs target – and are sensitive to – linguistic and cultural differences in metaphors, benefitting communities both locally and internationally. As part of the two-year fellowship, which started in October 2015, Dr Perez-Sobrino will undertake secondments at Amsterdam University’s Metaphor Lab and at two advertising companies in Spain.