The use of tropes (e.g., metaphors, ellipsis) in messages from health mass media campaigns may spark conversations. Tropes require additional cognitive elaboration to arrive at the intended interpretation, thereby providing the audience with ‘‘the pleasure of text.’’ These characteristics make them useful for conversations in which ads are used to demonstrate one’s interpretation abilities or to strengthen group identity through a shared appreciation of ads. Tropes can thus stimulate people to think and talk about information they might otherwise ignore. As a result, this information is primed, increasing the chance that it will influence relevant behavior. At the same time, the use of tropes may have undesirable side effects such as yielding incomprehension or misunderstanding of the message’s meaning.

Key Words: Rhetorical figures • Health communication • Campaigns • Conversations
A rhetorical figure (for instance the antithesis in "Come in and find out" in a Dutch perfume ad) communicates an advertising message in an artfully divergent way. Two types of rhetorical figures are frequently distinguished, namely schemes (superficial decorations such as rhyme and alliteration) and tropes (meaningful deviations such as metaphors and puns). However, until now little attention has been paid to rhetorical figures that can be found in combinations of text and image (i.e., verbo-pictorial rhetorical figures). In this article, an experiment and interviews are presented on the effects of non-rhetorical figures, verbo-pictorial schemes and verbo-pictorial tropes on attitudes towards advertisements. In the experiment, twelve real-life advertisements (4 per category: non-rhetorical figure, scheme, and trope) were presented to 92 participants. The results show that attitudes towards ads with verbo-pictorial tropes (and advertisements without rhetorical figures) are less favourable than those towards advertisements with verbo-pictorial schemes. This could be explained by the fact that relatively more participants failed to come up with successful interpretations of the ads with these tropes and that attitudes were less favourable towards advertisements that were unsuccessfully interpreted than towards advertisements that were successfully interpreted.

Key Words: rhetoric • rhetorical figures • multimodality • advertising • attitude towards the advertisement
Puns are popular rhetorical figures in advertisements. A distinction can be made between puns in which both interpretations are relevant to the advertiser’s message (e.g., ‘‘The gift that leaves you beaming’’ in an advertisement for a small flashlight) and puns in which only one interpretation is relevant (e.g., ‘‘Roses grow on you’’ for Cadbury’s Roses chocolates). In recent publications, different predictions have been made as to whether slogans containing puns in general are appreciated more than slogans without a pun, and also whether puns containing two relevant interpretations are appreciated more than puns containing only one relevant interpretation. This paper reports on an experiment to test these hypotheses. Sixty-eight participants rated their appreciation of 24 slogans. The results showed that the presence or absence of puns had a significant impact on the respondents’ appreciation of the slogans. Furthermore, whether the pun contained two relevant interpretations or only one did not influence the extent to which they were considered funny, but the former were considered a better choice than the latter.

Key Words: Relevance Theory • Puns • Advertising
Rhetorical figures

Rhetorical figures such as rhyme, alliteration, metaphor, and hyperboles are used to express familiar content in an unexpected way. Especially in advertising, rhetorical figures are used in both the verbal and the visual part of the message. The question is how and under which conditions rhetorical figures can contribute or hinder the success of persuasive documents. In the research project Visual Metaphor: A Psycholinguistic Perspective (funded by NWO, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) the issue is addressed to what extent knowledge on how verbal metaphors are processed is relevant to our understanding of how visual metaphors are processed.

Selected publications:

Hoeken, H., Swanepoel, P. H., Saal, E. O., & Jansen, C. (in press). Using Message Form to Stimulate Conversations: The Case of Tropes. Communication Theory, 19,

Enschot, R. van, Hoeken, H., & Mulken, M. van (2008). Rhetoric in advertising: Attitudes towards verbo-pictorial figures. Information Design Journal, 16, 35-45.

Mulken, M. van, Enschot, R. van, & Hoeken, H. (2005). Puns, relevance and appreciation in advertisements. Journal of Pragmatics, 37, 707-721.

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