Cultural interpretation of pictorial metaphor in global advertising imagery
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] As global advertising campaigns become more standardized, images are often employed to appeal to target markets that span a wide variety of cultures. Advertisers regularly use pictorial metaphors specifically because of their ability to cut through the clutter of other advertisements and make the brand or advertisement memorable to the consumer. Previous research has shown that to interpret these complex pictorial metaphors, consumers refer back to existing cultural knowledge, which can vary greatly from one culture to another. In light of the trend toward globalization, these cultural interpretations must be better understood and considered by advertisers in order to get the intended message across. This study examines key literature regarding the role of pictorial metaphor in advertising campaigns and how cultural background has an influence on how consumers interpret these types of pictorial metaphors. Using qualitative focus group research, this study analyzed the ways in which groups of Chinese and American consumers interpreted pictorial metaphors in advertisements which were culturally matching and in advertisements which were not. Through this research, it became clear that pictorial metaphor has a strong impact on a consumer's interpretation of an advertisement and that culture plays an important role in what a consumer reads into an advertisement.
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