Visual Rhetoric in Outdoor Advertising

SELIGER, Marja (2009). Visual Rhetoric in Outdoor Advertising. In: Undisciplined! Design Research Society Conference 2008, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK, 16-19 July 2008.


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The paper presents a research, the aim of which is to find out how graphic expressions and visual language can be used for persuasion. The research material consists of outdoor advertisements photographed in their actual exhibition places in a city environment. Outdoor advertising media, which are used to communicate visual messages from a sender to several addressees, participate in building the visual city culture and open manifold solutions in design. The visual language used in the research material is analyzed in order to find out how advertising messages, their denotations and connotations, are constructed and how arguments used for persuasion are visualized.

The first analysis is based on the knowledge and methods used in graphic design practice, which has been defined to be the process of making, choosing and arranging marks in order to convey a message. The analysis shows that different modes, techniques and visual elements are applied to attract the attention of spectators and arouse interest towards the message of an artefact. The second analysis is based on communication studies and semiotics, especially on Roman Jakobson’s theory about the functions of communication. The method of combining two analyses reveals different ways of using visual language and syntaxes to announce the excellence of an advertised product, service or subject. It also shows various types of visual arguments used in advertisements. Three types of visual rhetoric emerge from the research material. They are called brand rhetoric, personalized rhetoric and poetic rhetoric.

The taxonomy of visual rhetoric exemplifies how visual language can be constructed and used for persuasion. It shows that the decisions in design influence the messages and meanings created. The research calls for further studies as regards the reception of visual rhetoric and suggests that the taxonomy of visual rhetoric could be applied in visual communication design and in the analysis of advertising messages.

Outdoor Advertisement/Advertising; Visual Rhetoric; Visual Language; Graphic Design; Visual Communication Design; Advertising Message

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (-)
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2009
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 13:52

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