Jeannette Littlemore Paula Pérez-Sobrino

Eyelashes, Speedometers or Breasts? An Experimental Cross-cultural Approach to Multimodal Metaphor and Metonymy in Advertising

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Metaphor and metonymy are key tools in communication, particularly when abstract ideas or emotions are discussed. While studies have explored the role played by metaphor and metonymy in language and images, and in the ways they are understood, few studies have investigated the combination of metaphor and metonymy in the multimodal context of advertising. Our study investigates the nature of figurative complexity (i.e., the ways metaphor and metonymy combine) in advertisements containing both words and images, and explores the relationship between figurative complexity and comprehension, accuracy of interpretation and advertising effectiveness. Through a mixed-methods approach of lab experiments and qualitative inquiry we assess the speed and depth of comprehension, the perceived appeal, and the physiological effect of advertisements on participants from three linguistic and cultural backgrounds (English, Spanish, and Chinese).


  • Advertising
  • Cross-Culturality
  • Metaphor


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