Rhetoric in advertising: Attitudes towards verbo-pictorial rhetorical figures
A rhetorical figure (for instance the antithesis in “Come in and find out” in a Dutch perfume ad) communicates an advertising message in an artfully divergent way. Two types of rhetorical figures are frequently distinguished, namely schemes (superficial decorations such as rhyme and alliteration) and tropes (meaningful deviations such as metaphors and puns). However, until now little attention has been paid to rhetorical figures that can be found in combinations of text and image (i.e., verbo-pictorial rhetorical figures). In this article, an experiment and interviews are presented on the effects of non-rhetorical figures, verbo-pictorial schemes and verbo-pictorial tropes on attitudes towards advertisements. In the experiment, twelve real-life advertisements (4 per category: non-rhetorical figure, scheme, and trope) were presented to 92 participants. The results show that attitudes towards ads with verbo-pictorial tropes (and advertisements without rhetorical figures) are less favourable than those towards advertisements with verbo-pictorial schemes. This could be explained by the fact that relatively more participants failed to come up with successful interpretations of the ads with these tropes and that attitudes were less favourable towards advertisements that were unsuccessfully interpreted than towards advertisements that were successfully interpreted.