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.

Showing the Unspoken

Showing the unspoken

Because of the lack of explicitness of visual syntax, arguments made through images often need to be supported by words (Meyers, 1994, Chap. 10). Even relatively simple visual juxtapositions can be hard to make sense of without a verbal explanation. Consider the case of a thought-provoking print ad produced by the Humane Society of the United States (see Figure 6.1). The ad contains two images, one above the other: on top, a photograph of a pair of puppies; below, a photograph of a pair of baby foxes. Both pictures engage our attention as well as our affections. But how much of the intended meaning of the ad would we be able to figure out if the pictures had been presented ...

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