The pictures in television commercials, magazine advertisements and other forms of advertising often convey meanings that cannot be expressed as well, or at all, through words or music. Visual Persuasion is an exploration of the uniquely visual aspects of advertising. Because of the implicit nature of visual argumentation and the relative lack of social accountability which images enjoy in comparison with words, pictures can be used to make advertising claims that would be unacceptable if spelled out verbally. From this starting point, Paul Messaris analyzes a variety of commercial, political and social issue advertisements. He also discusses the role of images in cross-cultural advertising.

Visual Truth, Visual Lies

Visual truth, visual lies

In a TV commercial for a popular brand of laundry detergent, we see the following. A dapper-looking gentlemen with an air of impressive self-confidence holds up a napkin that seems to be terminally stained. Unperturbed, he plops the napkin into a pitcher of water and adds a measure of the detergent. He twirls the mixture around with a swizzle stick for a second or two, and then he takes the napkin out and holds it up for our inspection. Lo and behold: It is now immaculately, sparklingly clean.

Up to this point, our analysis of visual persuasion has focused on the nature and implications of iconicity. The little episode described above provides an introduction to a second characteristic property ...

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