Critical Discourse Analysis: Home Appliance Advertisement

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Critical Discourse Analysis on Electronic Home Appliances Advertisement

Abstract:

The current study examined electronics products’ advertisement from the perspective of critical discourse analysis. This study principally focused on language use by advertisers in electronics Products’ advertisement and showed how different strategies are employed to influence and manipulate their customers. A qualitative research was carried out on electronics product ads. Fifty advertisements were randomly picked from web images and analyzed using Fairclough’s three dimensional models. It reveals the construction and reconstruction of the ideology of ‘comfortable life’ through advertisements. Our findings indicated skillful use of language and employability of numerous stratagems to manipulate customers. These advertisements tend to advertise an ideal view of life and manipulate their customers to believe, up to certain extent, in whatever is being advertised is in fact true. Thus specific language is used by advertisers in advertisements to exercise power and control over the minds of people.

Introduction:

Cook (1992, p.5) says that advertisement discourse is a prominent type of discourse in contemporary societies where it has already established itself or is gaining some grounds to establish on. The significant feature that distinguishes one type of discourse to other is its function. Discourse function of advertisements is to promote particular product and persuade customers to buy it. But Durant and Lambrou (2009, p.93), insist that this is not only function that ads perform. Rather these also provide information about what is available, by whom and how and where customers can get it. In the same way Cook (2001) points out that those other functions that advertisements perform are to persuade customers, give information, to remind and influence and possibly change their opinions, attitudes and emotions. In this way advertisements not only sell particular products but also make their customers to buy more things that they do not even need.

Williamso9n (1978) states that” ads ask us to participate in ideological ways of seeing ourselves and the world” and ideology, as defined by Eagleton (1991, p.9) is purely a matter of ‘discourse’ than of ‘language’. It is concerned with the actual usage of language between specific human subjects to produce distinctive effects. He holds that ideological state of a statement cannot be determined in isolation i.e. inspection only into its discursive context. Hodge and Kress (1993, p.212) believe that ideologies are meaningful structures, inseparable from set practices which are themselves structures of meaning. Thus, to have a deeper insight into the role of advertisements in contemporary societies, it is essential to inspect the ways in which they are organized to construct particular reality, how are meanings produced in ad discourses and why images are like that way they are.

This paper intends to analyze advertisement of electronic products of different companies like Dawlance, Haier, L.G, Pel, Panasonic, Rient, Sony and Samsung etc. in order to examine employed techniques by companies to attract more customers and advertise more products. Fragments of discourse analyzed are ads of different products of electronics. Critical discourse analysis is selected as methodological approach for study and research tools are of three-dimensional model of discourse analysis by Fairclough that embraces three distinct strands. It chiefly focuses the production and reception processes rather than just examination of text.

Due to stiff competition in attracting potential receivers, advertisers are forced to employ dynamic advertising techniques to manipulate customers for instance; advertisers construct some problems and then provide solution i.e. in use of their product. In this way electronics product ads convince their customers to buy them. Advertisements provide a lot of information for instance product’s background and effectiveness, and also testimonies by various celebrities who use it.

Methodology:

The analysis is based on Fairclough three dimension model of critical discourse analysis. Advertisements of electronics’ products were collected from web images and were analyzed. The theoretical framework employed in this study is Critical Discourse Analysis framework (2001).Advertisements are seen as media discourse as they involve language and social processes. Hence this framework is used to show the link between the nature of social practice and the properties of language “texts”.

A qualitative design was adopted for this study. A qualitative study was appropriate in this study which seeks to investigate how discourse in advertisements involves people’s construction of meanings. Beauty product advertisements in English Language local magazines were analyzed. Hence for a descriptive analysis, a qualitative analysis is more appropriate rather than a quantitative analysis. Purposive sampling was done as the study was to investigate only on beauty product advertisements where not many studies have been conducted namely lipstick, mascara and eye cream.

Data was collected from two local women’s magazine, Cleo and Women’s Weekly from six issues consecutively from January to June 2012. Every advertisement on eye cream, lipstick and mascara from these magazines was retrieved and analyzed. The data analysis is based on Fairclough’s Critical Discourse Analysis framework (2001).

Hence this framework is used to show the link between the nature of social practice and the properties of language “texts”. His three-dimensional framework includes a conception of discourse as text (micro level), discourse practice (meso level) and sociocultural practice (macro level). Its aim is to explore the relationships among language, ideology and power and to find out how advertisers persuade the women to buy their products.

Thus, this study focused on analyzing the linguistic features of beauty product advertisements in women’s magazines in Malaysia and highlights how the use of language tends to manipulate women beliefs based on the content of the advertisements.

Figure

Analysis

This analysis is based on Fairclough three-dimensional model of critical discourse analysis, that present analysis at three distinct levels i.e. textual, discursive, and social practice level.

Textual analysis

This level relates to the linguistic features used in the electronic ads. At this level of analysis we deal with the use of vocabulary items, syntactical structure and the use of rhetorical devices. There is great use of direct pronouns in electronic ads to attract the customers.

  • With a number of diverse features these compact little things can make your kitchen life easy. (Orient)
  • Now, the choice is yours. (Haier)
  • You inspire us. (Haier)
  • So efficient, we’ll clean your conscience too. (Dawlance)
  • Witness premium picture quality at the comfort of your home. (Dell)
  • Make your home virus free. (Samsung)
  • We’ll keep the air in your home clean & cool.
  • Green your appliances! (Bosch)
  • Our passion is green today and always! (Haier)
  • ….part of your life (Haier thermo cool)
  • Say hello to our little friends. (Samsung)
  • Hold the future in your hand (Sony)

Advertisement makes use of imperative sentences to convince audience to buy particular product. Here are some examples of imperative sentences:

  • Store a greater number of chilled bottles, soft drinks and food items than any other. (Orient)
  • Now, the choice is your (Haier)
  • You inspire us (Haier)
  • Ride into the smart land (Samsung)
  • Preserve the goodness of health (Panasonic)
  • Make your home virus free (Samsung)
  • Green your appliances (Bosch)
  • Make. Believe (Sony)

Sometimes questions are imposed in advertisements to build a close relationship and to stimulate an informal exchange of information. This technique in spite of mere conveying information, may engage the audience and this informality indicate equality among audience and advertisers. Examples from advertisements analyzed are as follows.

  • God’s gift to single men? (DIONWREO)
  • Want it? (Samsung)

Disjunctive syntax is another strategy that is used in advertisements to stimulate conversation. Disjunctive syntax can be defined as sentences with no nouns or verbs and marked by consisting of one or two words. For example:

  • License To Chill (Kenwood)
  • Inspired living (Haier)
  • Energy saver (Dawlance)
  • good’sleep (Samsung)
  • ideas for life (Panasonic)
  • Entertainer (Orient)
  • Electric fence system (Pel)
  • make.believe (Sony)
  • Life’s Green (LG)

Vocabulary is also an important way for advertisers to promote their ideological opinion about various events and products. Adjectives are also very important for conveying positive or negative messages and making the meaning more affective (Delin 2000:133). These affective meanings will be helpful to display positive and negative emotions of readers. Positive adjectives highlight the significant qualities of particular product while negative adjectives are related to the problems which the use of particular product will solve. For example positive adjectives used in electronics products advertisement are:

Fresher, longer, compact, little, easy, diverse, smart, big, greater, top, inspired, choice, fresh, young, clean, smart, good, real, full, cool, beautiful, innovative, inspiring, intelligent, quality, comforting, comfortable, free, new, single, alive, energy-saving, oscillatory, perfect, automatic, unmatched, powerful, green, best, minimum, maximum, real, largest, longest, proud, reliable, slimmest.

Adjectives are used in a way to highlight the positive qualities of a product and to instigate desires, dreams and emotions. In addition to adjectives, compound words also found in ads. For example:

H-Zone, energy-saver, virus-free, gift-giving, year-round, fanned-out, long-lasting, airy-light, high-performance, fully-automatic.

If we look at the vocabulary closely we find that most of it is consist on both informal and formal words. Apart from vocabulary, specific use of grammar is also evident to convey a particular ideology. For example type of verbs, selection of tense and type of sentences i.e. active or passive, pronouns, nominalization, parallelism and modality perform significant function. Modality can be seen in following electronics ads:

  • With a number of diverse features these compact little things can make your kitchen life easy.
  • WE COULDN’T SPEND HEAPS ON A WASHING MACHINE. (Haier)
  • Crea tu amblente can estlo.

Then we deal with the different type of sentences that are used in advertisement. Sentences used in the advertisements are usually simple and of declarative type and tense used is present tense. Future tense is also seen and the purpose is to recommend and suggest the use of product. Moreover sentences are mostly active while passivisation is also used. Another technique used by advertisers to persuade audience is use of personal pronouns. Personal pronouns tend to create a friendly relationship and are more effective to make people buy products. Most common pronouns used in electronics product ads are ‘we’, ‘you’ and ‘your’. Personal pronoun indicate that advertiser want to establish a relationship. Moreover, ‘we’ implies authoritative attitude and exert power where as pronouns such as ‘your’ and ‘you’ directly address readers and are used to give a feeling of special attention to audience. The pronoun ‘we’ is used where power holders i.e. advertisers wants to identify themselves with their customers to feel them equality. Examples of personal pronouns are as follows:

  • With a number of diverse features these compact things can make your kitchen life easy. (Orient)
  • We couldn’t spend heaps on a washing machine. (Haier)
  • Now, the choice is yours. (Haier)
  • You inspire us. (Haier)
  • So efficient, we’ll clean your conscience too. (Bosch Vision)
  • Innovative, inspiring, intelligent, THE HAIER LIFE awaits you. (Haier)
  • Witness premium picture quality at the comfort of your home. (Pel)
  • Make your home virus free. (Samsung)
  • We’ll keep the air in your home clean & cool. (Dawlance)
  • Our passion is green today and always. (Haier)
  • Thermo cool..part of your life. (Haier)
  • Own a Sony-and you know you own the best (Sony TV)
  • Say hello to our little friend. (Samsung)
  • Change your life. (Pel)
  • Hold the future in your hand with SONY. (Sony)

Sometimes poetic devices for instance jingles and alliterations and catchy slogans are also used because they make the brand or product and message easy to be remembered. For instance:

  • Keeps fresher for longer. (Dawlance)
  • Inspired living (Haier)
  • Live a HAIER life. (Haier)
  • Ideas for life. (Panasonic)
  • Best price
  • Best quality
  • Best performance
  • Innovative, inspiring, intelligent (Haier)
  • Only LG’s Got IT (LG)
  • God’s gift to single men. (Dionwreo)
  • Minimized frame, maximized 3D (LG)
  • Life’s Green (LG)
  • Change your life. (Haier)
  • Smarter life, better life (Haier)
  • Live smart, live green. (Haier)
  • Proud to be Pakistani, Proud to be reliable! (Dawlance)
  • Save space outside, Cook big inside. (Dawlance)
  • Samsung smart TV. (Samsung)

Use of numbers in advertisement

Sometimes numbers are also used in electronics ads. For example:

  • the real star has arrived 99% virus free air
  • up to 60% power setting (Panasonic)
  • 70% saving energy (Samsung)
  • hws 80-118(red) top loading fully automatic (Haier)
  • 9000 btu split ac with installations only for $995 (Haier)
  • own a Sony-and you know you own the best 40 inch TV (Sony)
  • cinema 3d smart TV (LG)
  • longest cooling during power cut, 7 hours (EverCool)
  • 3+1 year warranty Haier split air conditioner 11.5 tonhsu-18k03(Haier)

All mentioned techniques are used to evoke reader’s desires and to construct the ideology of easy and comfortable as well as ideal life. Certain qualities that are associated with ideal life style are attributed to the product so that customers are manipulated.

Discourse Practice Analysis

This level deals with the study of production and consumption of the text and it focuses on the power that how it is performed. In this part of my study we deal with the different types of strategies that advertisers used in their ads. Following is the given table that summarizes the strategies used.

Strategies used in advertisement

Linguistic devices.

1 Irrealisis representation

2 Positive representation

3 Puffery

4 Celebrity approval

5 Emotive Words

6 Scientific evidences

 

Social Practice Analysis

This level of analysis is also concerned with intertextuality understanding that helps to understand the broad common affairs that are affecting the text. This study deals with the use and importance of the electronic appliances. Now a day the use of electronic appliances is on its peak. People of modern age use electronics to save their precious time and make their task more effective. People are becoming so habitual of use of electronics that they are mostly dependant on the electronics. Modern people will spend a large amount of income in buying the electronics products to make their life more easy and perfect. Customers use high quality AC, refrigerator, and washing machines to make their life effortless. By using all the electronics people can surely make their life completely perfect and easy.

As long as science has progressed, people have become relaxed in their life style. These products facilitate living style and sometimes have become status symbol. Through advertisements individual and collective identities are produced. Advertisements make use of a specific strategy i.e. celebrities are shown as using the product and customers think that they can be like icons using the similar product. It employs that one can be a successful person by using particular product. Moreover in the society where women are considered inferior, notion of dominant women is more influential in advertisement. Women are convinced to feel dominant by using image of any well known, successful and famous model. They are shown as using air conditioner and refrigerator etc. of same company as of a common person is using. Concluding, we can say that advertisers promote their product as well as a standard of living and

Conclusion:

From the results of data analysis, we can conclude that several linguistic and discursive devices i.e. declarative sentences, positive adjectives and vocabulary, attractive slogans, alliteration and jingles are used by advertisers to persuade and attract customers. Moreover, such vocabulary is used that is ideologically loaded. E.g. smart, chilled bottles, energy savers, smart land and real star etc. these advertisements depict an ideal view of life and they construct and promote the ideology that use of electronics products such as refrigerator, A.C., cooler and washing machine can make our life some sort of ideal.

Direct speech and personal pronouns are used to employ specific message that customers are of much importance for advertisers. So that customers are directly influenced by advertisements. Intertextuality is also evident in ads and these technical words give more value to product and hence manipulate readers’ beliefs. In addition, some celebrities are also shown using the particular product and their views also affectively manipulate and influence audience. This technique reflects power and this assertion of power are portrayed by celebrities’ endorsement. Moreover, advertisers use positive self representation technique to attract and persuade audience.

From the analysis of data, we can summarize that advertisement, through the use of whatever mean, tend to build the idea of an ideal or set a standard of life. According to Fill (2002), ads influence their audience to buy certain products. Language is important in shaping and reshaping our views. Ads communicate message that have a large impact on audience. As Fairclough (2001) believes that media discourse is very complex in nature and presents ideologies in a neutralized way so we can say that advertisers efficiently manipulate their customers.

References:

Bloor. M, and T. Bloor, 2007. The practice of critical discourse analysis. An Introduction, London: Hodder Education

Cook, G. (1992). The Discourse of Advertising. 5. London: Routledge.

Davis, H. and P. Watson, 1983. Language, image, media. Oxford: Blackwell.

Durant, A. & Lambrou, M. (2009). Language and Media. 93. London: Routledge.

Eagleton, T. (1991). Ideology: an Introduction.p.195. Retrieved from http://

www.books.google.com/books?id= JK2L8zoHFeIL.

Hodge, R. & Kress, G. (1993). Language as Ideology, London: Routledge.

Delin, A. (2000). The Language of Everyday Life. London: Sage.

Fairclough, N. (2001). Language and Power. United Kingdom: Longman.

Fill, C. (2002) Marketing Communications: contexts, strategies and applications. Harlow: Financial Times

Prentice Hall.

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