Metaphor and creativity in British magazine advertising

Abstract: This thesis is a cognitive linguistic study of the various ways in which conceptual metaphor and related cognitive processes are exploited for creative purposes in advertising texts and accompanying images. The material consists of advertisements collected from British magazines between the years 1996 and 2002, and is classified into four main categories according to how the metaphorical content is signalled in the advertisement. These categories include polysemous words, idiomatic expressions, metaphorical expressions and metaphor reflected in the combination of text and image. Detailed qualitative analyses of representative advertisements selected from each category are made using tools provided by both conceptual metaphor theory and blending theory. Special consideration is given to the roles played by the textual and pictorial components and the complex conceptual structures that are constructed around the metaphorical centre. Advertisements centred around entrenched cases of metaphor (polysemous words, idiomatic expressions) often rely on puns and ambiguity for their creative effect. This is also the case with less entrenched, but still conventional metaphoric expressions, which also tend to draw on the corresponding non-metaphorical meaning. Apart from the effect of humour or wit, the underlying conventional metaphor is also reactivated and exploited in order to build an argument about the product. The creativity in advertisements where the metaphor is reflected in the combination of text and image, or throughout the text as opposed to an individual word or phrase, typically involves a reconceptualisation of the product. This is achieved by making the product form the target of a novel metaphor, but crucially, this novel metaphor still relies on a conventional metaphor for its construction and interpretation.