Metaphors are a common figure of speech where a word or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to imply a resemblance. Metaphors are also a common technique in visuals, particular print advertisements, and PSAs. Visual metaphors are highly structured images that stimulate viewers to understand one concept in terms of another concept. They are a potent weapon in the communication professional’s arsenal.
If you’d like a compact five-minute overview of visual metaphors, please check out my Ignite presentation below:
My presentation includes photos I took from Unsplash. My thanks to the following:
- Ilkka Kärkkäinen (slide #1)
- Aaron Burden (slide #2)
- Kyle Hanson (slide #3)
Gkiouzepas, L., & Hogg, M. K. (2011). Articulating a new framework for visual metaphors in advertising. Journal of Advertising, 40(1), 103-120. doi:10.2753/JOA0091-3367400107
An in-depth understanding of visual metaphor with famous examples. Retrieved from https://penlighten.com/understanding-visual-metaphor-with-examples
Jeong, S. (2008). Visual metaphor in advertising: Is the persuasive effect attributable to visual argumentation or metaphorical rhetoric? Journal of Marketing Communications, 14(1), 59-73. doi:10.1080/14697010701717488
Joy, A., Sherry, J. F., & Deschenes, J. (2009). Conceptual blending in advertising. Journal of Business Research, 62(1), 39-49. doi:10.1016/j.jbusres.2007.11.015
Mohanty, P. (., & Ratneshwar, S. (2015). Did you get it? factors influencing subjective comprehension of visual metaphors in advertising. Journal of Advertising, 44(3), 232-242. doi:10.1080/00913367.2014.967424
Ortiz, M. J. (2010). Visual rhetoric: Primary metaphors and symmetric object alignment. Metaphor and Symbol, 25(3), 162-180. doi:10.1080/10926488.2010.489394
Phillips, B. J., & McQuarrie, E. F. (2004). Beyond visual metaphor: A new typology of visual rhetoric in advertising. Marketing Theory, 4(1-2), 113-136. doi:10.1177/1470593104044089
Scott, L. M. (1994). Images in advertising: The need for a theory of visual rhetoric. Journal of Consumer Research, 21(2), 252-273. doi:10.1086/209396
Shan, C., Yu, M., & Xue, K. (2017). Effects of metaphor advertising on brand extension evaluation: Construal level as mediator. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 45(6), 967-985. doi:10.2224/sbp.5962
van Mulken, M., van Hooft, A., & Nederstigt, U. (2014). Finding the tipping point: Visual metaphor and conceptual complexity in advertising. Journal of Advertising, 43(4), 333-343. doi:10.1080/00913367.2014.920283
Your presentation blew me away! Being that it was a unique topic, I was excited to learn something new. I think you did a great job staying on theme while introduction a lot of new lessons. All of your images flow very nicely with your presentation and helps the viewers really follow along with each topic. They were clear and easy to interpret images for each example.
I’d suggest for your essay to break down each different metaphor into each topic to expand on. You also really go into how people use failed metaphors and possibly relate it to the topic of ‘emotions by accident.’
You can also use the Gestalt principals for interpreting the metaphors in each ad. I’m wondering if you can also mention emotions using colors as well since a metaphor is partly about interpreting something based on culture. Question, will you only be talking specifically about advertisements, or are you discussing other visuals as well?
Overall I can tell you’ve done your research and I’m looking forward to reading your paper! I can already tell that it will have a great flow because of how focused and structured your presentation was.
Best of luck!
The above comment from nrmartinelli is Natalie Martinelli!
I will start off with the first things that come to mind – your timing, pace, and cadence are all awesome! I’m not sure if you film how-to’s or tutorial videos, but you seem like you’d be great at it.
The way you introduce your topic and define what a visual metaphor is is attention-grabbing, and you use excellent examples to illustrate how ads can utilize the various ways to present visual metaphors – juxtaposition, fusion, and replacement.
Because visual metaphors aren’t meant to be interpreted literally, and because “the image deviates from our expectations,” I thought it was interesting that viewers/consumers get a kick out of making inferences and solving the riddles that are hidden in visual metaphors (also, good job on the process of how we understand metaphors and describing strong implicature versus weak implicature).
You’re right when you say that creating visual metaphors is often a challenge because it requires having some sort of common cultural understanding and context – I imagine that this is especially challenging for global brands that cater to wider audience.
You mention that content and advertisements that include visual metaphors tend to do better than ads that don’t include them, and given your commentary, I can understand why this is. I hope that in your essay, you include examples of how companies have used visual metaphors effectively (which you’ve done), and perhaps instances where they failed. I’m not sure if the Tasmanian water/beer ad was an example of this, but I do think the marketers behind that ad were stretching…or maybe I’m just not the right audience.
Your presentation is the one that I enjoyed the most so far. The topic of your presentation is not only fascinating but, accompanied with excellent visuals, puts some controversy in the spotlight while the slideshow goes. This “twist” really keeps viewers amused and connected to your talk. But my perception noticed controversy even before that point. I thought about our recent class discussion about visual stories that evoke different emotions than the ones they portray. For example, a warm “A touch and done” ad evokes an unpleasant feeling. I realized that my perception is coming from my own experience with bees and push start button. We had a group of kids stung by bees in my daycare with I was a child as we tried to play with a nest. The push button start in a rental car was a horrible experience because I drove Subarus for many years; it does not seem like Subaru engineers consider that feature useful. As you defined in your introduction, “Visual metaphors are highly structured images that stimulate viewers to understand one concept in terms of another concept.” As Safwat Choudhury described in his blog post, “Another level of emotional response, which is also unconscious, is behavioral level design; this is a learned because it incorporates our past experiences.” So it happened accidentally that one of my negative experience with the concept of bees is linked to another poor experience with a push button start. I wonder how my perception would change if one of these experiences was positive.
I’m glad that you did not just read the prewritten text copy like I heard in some other presentation. Even if you did, your narrative sounds organic and confident, like you are talking to the audience, not just reading your story monotonously. Some other presentations were hard to comprehend as their narrative was not adjusted for the ear. We studied differences in writing for the ear versus writing for the eye in our Writing for Interactive media class, and I pointed in my blog post that “When you write for print, you might not even realize how it sounds when somebody attempts to read it aloud. But I always read any text copy written to the ear. If it seems natural to vocalize, without your tongue twisting at any point, it means, this copy is ready for listeners.”
Thank you for a very informative presentation.
What a presentation! I was blown away by your ease of presenting a topic that has limited studies and the way you discussed it. I love a good metaphor, but I haven’t even thought about how we likely use visual metaphors more than we realize. It was helpful that you included the definition of visual metaphors and how they are useful, “Visual metaphors are highly structured images that stimulate viewers to understand one concept in terms of another concept. They are a potent weapon in the communication professional’s arsenal.”
Before your presentation, I had no idea that there are 3 types of visual metaphors.
I thought the visual examples of juxtaposed images were really interesting. My favorite images that you shared were the Passat elk image and the football player image for Chevrolet that acted as a metaphor for their park assist product.
You made a great point in that the viewers need to understand what they are viewing and create a theory. At first, the image of the man on the dock with the big dog with the tiny head was also lost on me. After reviewing the image further, I noticed the slogan talking about how the water is better. Your comment about the stick is what helped me to realize that of course, the dog was swimming with his head above the water.
I look forward to reading your paper about visual metaphors. I think you found some great examples that work, but I would love to see examples of metaphors that don’t work. If you could find similar examples but where one does a great job versus one that fails, that would be a good approach.
Juxtaposition, fusion, and replacement — three types of visual metaphors in advertising. Your presentation was structured perfectly, with a clear introduction, great examples and descriptions, and a well-formed conclusion to tie it all together. It was very easy and, therefore, engaging to follow your narrative arch.
While you were going through your examples, I was really surprised how oblivious I am to these visual metaphors that surround me. Just looking on my coffee table, I see several visual metaphors from magazines and one from a birthday card.
Your analyses were well thought out and you go through a number of examples so good job with that!
What I enjoyed most was in your conclusion, where you discuss how visual metaphors rely on our understanding across a vast expanse of information. This is something that has been a common theme throughout this program — that perception relies heavily on learned and environmental experiences.
You suggest that it is difficult to make good advertisements using visual metaphors and you are right — you really only get one shot for the audience to understand it. If no one gets it, it’s not very effective (which is how I felt about the VW and the bee example).
You chose a very interesting topic. I had never really thought much about visual metaphors until your presentation. After watching it, I can’t help but think that we see visual metaphors practically every day and just don’t realize it. You took a topic, I’ve never really seen talked about outside of a classroom and made it incredibly interesting. The pictures you used worked so well with the flow of the presentation. They also made you think. In the picture with the dog with the small head, I had no idea what it was talking about until you dove more in-depth with it and explained what it was all about.
You had a very good flow of the presentation. It seemed to me as if you were just talking and not really reading off a script. In my opinion, that’s what makes a good presentation, great. You have the voice for this type of presentation too. When I first started your video, I clicked away to open up a notes tab and I couldn’t place the voice. This being the second class we’ve had together I thought I’d know your voice, but nope. There was a slight change in it, which really worked with this type of presentation. There were one or two you flubbed your words and could have gone back and redo it, but all-in-all a great presentation. I can’t wait to read the finished product.