Where Truth Lies in Advertising

Collateral bundling of hidden meanings


  • Connie de Silva Monash University Australia




Consumer advertising, characterised by its persuasive intent and attention value, is a form of propositional communication that contextually hinges on the psychology of human needs and desires. The advertiser’s objective is to depict – with some poetic licence – commercially available items as beneficial and vital. Truthful depiction is not among the objectives of the marketing plan; however, persuasive effectiveness is contingent upon successful synthesis of fact and concoction. Thus, an essence of reality must be crafted into the text to induce target-market confidence. Another consideration is memorability of the advertisement experience, particularly the brand name and its associated positive qualities. Further, it must be readable and socially accessible to achieve receiver engagement. This article – using the five social functions of language and Jakobson’s communication language model (Leech, 1981) – investigates the complex phenomenon of meaning-creation in press advertisements[i] to discover their ecological infrastructure. What are the relationships between elements? And how do these render the potential to generate persuasive propositions that linger? Analysis shows that attention-getting features are primary carriers of hidden meanings; and, if realised, these create persuasive impressions of essential and/or urgently needed benefits available in the advertised item. Further investigation reveals that the hidden meanings are cached in a trifecta of thematic information, presupposition and implicature that renders a meaning-making vehicle to deliver advertiser propositions. This strategic apparatus – governed by a principle of semantic interdependency of linguistic, semiotic and intertextual elements – is terminologically labelled as collateral bundling


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