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Abstract Ads for some products are not allowed to recommend the product explicitly (Bignell 2002: 53). Alcoholic advertising, especially, is never promoting alcoholic drink as a total concept (Hagan and Waterson 1983: 17); instead, it is very often related to some other ideologically valued quality. With this in mind, the aim of the present paper is to use Critical Discourse Analysis tools with a view to exploring both the visual and linguistic strategies that ad producers employ to endow spirits with certain ideologies. Concerning the structure of the paper, the first sections will provide some theoretical backcloth to the discussion. In more detail, the fundamental features of advertisements as well as the ways in which they can be classified are going to be sketched out. The relationship between advertisement and ideology will also be examined, whereas emphasis will be placed on being critical when analysing visuals with special reference to Kress and van Leeuwen’s model (1996). Having established the reason why insisting on alcohol advertising, a small collection of magazine adverts will be presented and analysed drawing on a range of expert voices in critical discourse studies, visual communication, advertising discourse and marketing.


Advertisements: characteristics and classification

It goes without saying that, over the years, a vast array of communicative modes including language, visual, music, sound, texture and gesture, saturates our everyday lives. Discursive action has become multimodal and a multiplicity of literacies is required in order to recognise and decipher the articulated meanings (Kress and van Leeuwen 2001). Multimodality refers to the use of several semiotic modes with a view to designing a semiotic product or event, along with the way in which these modes are combined (ibid.: 20). A case in point, notable for its meticulous integration of text and image is that of advertisement. The terms ‘advertisement’ and ‘advertising’ etymologically derive from the Latin infinitive ‘advertere’ which means ‘turn towards’ (Goddard 2002: 9). And


indeed, an advert turns towards and interacts with a range of elements (fig.1) by dint of which it comes into being and acquires its dynamic form (Cook 2001: 5-6).

Participants Function




AN AD Language


A Situation

Music Other Discourse

Other ads

Fig.1 Advertisement as interaction.

Defined very broadly, advertisement is ‘a notice, picture or film telling people about a product, job or service’ (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary 2005). A counterclaim to the popular belief that advertising solely aims at persuading people to buy particular products is that a bulk of advertisements does not directly ask us to be involved in any purchasing or even, it does not actually sell anything. Contemporary ads often appear to be more concerned with amusing, impressing, informing, worrying, warning, seeking support, setting puzzles or demonstrating their own sophistication (Cook 2001: 10, Bignell 2002: 31). Hence, our feelings, moods or attitudes (Williamson 1978: 31) are set in motion. Ad is a restless genre which is constantly adjusting itself to the changes of modern society (Cook 2001: 222) and that is probably the reason why it lacks a precise and complete definition. The following list constitutes an attempt to pin down some of the prototypical features that ascribe to adverts their social and psychological function. Ads







paralanguage counterbalancing the need for succinctness.




convey connotational and metaphorical meanings. can be blurred with other genres producing hybrid generic forms. fuse the features of public with private discourse and the voices of authority with intimacy (commodification and conversationalization of discourse). often influenced by the intertextual field of other ads, press stories and media events. provoke moral and aesthetic judgements. allude to shared background knowledge and trigger presuppositions. construct positions for the audience. prefer to manipulate viewers’ self-image rather than present content explicitly.

(Fairclough 1994: 253-60, Myers 1994: 6, Bruthiaux 2000: 297-9, Cook 2001: 219-20, Bignell 2002: 52).

What is more, ads fall into certain categories in terms of their medium, product, technique and consumer. Following Cook (2001: 14-16), ads appear in different mediums, namely different means of mass communication such as newspapers, magazines, radio, television and the internet, deploying the respective means (e.g. picture, typeface, voice quality, action, jingles). Ads are also classified on the basis of their product or service. They may concern luxuries (e.g. spirits, perfumes) or household necessities (e.g. washing powders). Alternatively, ads may not sell a product, so in this case we are dealing with non-product ads like those for charities. With regard to techniques, an established distinction is that between hard-sell and soft-sell ads. Hard selling makes a direct appeal to the consumer, while soft selling insinuates that life will be improved with the product. Another differentiation of techniques is that between reason and tickle. Unlike reason ads which provide motives for purchase, tickle ads imply reasons by resorting to emotion, humour and mood. Slow drip and sudden burst techniques have to do with the frequency of an ad’s release, whereas short/long copy techniques refer to the amount of language used. Finally, ads are categorised according to the consumer’s lifestyle, socioeconomic class, personality, gender, age, or combinations of these factors.


Undoubtedly, the advertising industry produces ads having a specific target-audience in mind. Nevertheless, this fact does not automatically mean that whenever we feel we are not addressed by an ad, we stop reading it; on the contrary, we are encouraged to observe the interaction that is taking place (Goddard and Patterson 200: 111) trying to decode the meanings that are designed to shape and lend significance to our experience of reality (Bignell 2002: 30).


Advertisement and ideology

As Lemke (1995) has stressed, ideology is a protean notion which can be fit into many theories and many texts. For the purposes of this paper ideology is viewed as ‘the shared set of values and beliefs that exist within a given society and through which individuals live out their relations to social institutions and structures. [It is the means by which] certain concepts and values are made to seem like natural, inevitable aspects of everyday life’ (Sturken and Cartwright 2001: 357).

Advertising goes hand in hand with ideology since the ways in which it organises discourses and images lead to an effective ideological production and reproduction (van Dijk 1998: 187). It has been claimed that advertising style has been developed not only to sell goods and services, but also to model cultural ideas about lifestyle, status, self-image, self-improvement and glamour, or in simpler terms, about ‘what the good life is’ or should be (Sturken and Cartwright 2001: 189, van Leeuwen 2005: 149-50). In order to accomplish this ideological venture, ads encourage consumers to view their consumption positively as central means that enables them to convey their special individuality (Kress and van Leeuwen 2001: 35, Bignell 2002: 37). More precisely, ads structure their meaning by attaching to commodities a fetishist aura, that is qualities and attributes that they do not have innately, so as that consumers feel that by purchasing and using a particular product, they subsequently acquire the alluring aura that surrounds it (Goldman 1992: 226, Sturken and Cartwright 2001:199-201). Although we are more or less aware of the advertising logic, Goldman (1992) argues that this overflow of advertisements has made our reading of them so routine that we no longer pay attention to the social assumptions embedded in their messages 6

and concomitantly, advertising is not usually recognised as a sphere of ideology. Still, because of this advertising invasion, in lieu of taking everything for granted, it is indispensable to adopt a critical stance towards ads trying to work out how, why and what meanings are given to products, to us as readers/consumers as well as to the social world as a whole. In this vein, the enterprise for CDA seeks to ‘demystify discourses by deciphering ideologies’ (Wodak 2001: 10), in other words, to read between the lines of the seemingly neutral discourse of advertising to elicit any ideological attitudes (Kress and van Leeuwen 1996: 13).


The visual and CDA

Taking into consideration that some of the most famous modern adverts like Silk and Cut and Benetton make use of no words at all (Myers 1994: 148), it is of paramount importance to treat both language and visuals as fundamental systems of making meaning, each one with its own specific forms and independently (Kress and van Leeuwen 1996: 17). Therefore, the analysis of visual communication constitutes a vital part of critical disciplines. Visual imagery is never innocent; it is always constructed within the realm of ideology (ibid: 12, van Leeuwen and Jewitt 2001: 5, Rose 2001: 32). Images, photos, text placement, layout, typeface and colour do not randomly appear on page, but are used for the manipulation of meanings and the implication of ideological opinions (van Dijk 1998: 201). In analysing advertising images, a critical approach: Looks at images very carefully. Is interested in how images are produced and to what ends they are used. Studies the discourses that that are constructed through visual images. Thinks about the social conditions, contexts, practices and effects as part of which images can be observed and interpreted. (Rose 2001: 14-5, 32)

The data collected for this paper are going to be analysed on the basis of Kress and van Leeuwen’s (1996) critical approach to ‘reading images’. Inspired by Hallidayan grammar, Kress and van Leeuwen proposed that any semiotic mode has to


fulfil three metafunctions in order to attain its communicational and representational purposes (Forceville 1999: 164). More specifically, these metafunctions include the ‘ideational metafunction’ which pertains to the ways in which objects are represented in an image as well as their relations with one another, the ‘interpersonal metafunction’ which accounts for the relationship between image and receiver and finally, the ‘textual metafunction’ which deals with the compositional arrangement of images (Kress and van Leeuwen 1996: 40-1).


Introducing the data

Why focusing on alcohol advertising since all advertised products have an attached aura? Jean Kilbourne (in Lubinski 2000), international lecturer on alcohol advertising, maintains that advertising is essentially myth-making:

“Alcohol advertising does create a climate in which dangerous attitudes toward alcohol are presented as normal, appropriate, and innocuous. Most important, alcohol advertising spuriously links alcohol with precisely those attributes and qualities happiness, wealth, prestige, sophistication, success, maturity, athletic ability, virility, creativity, sexual satisfaction that the misuse of alcohol usually diminishes and destroys”.

In order to explore the above statement in practice, a small corpus of printed advertisements for this luxury product has been gathered (Appendix I). These ads are chosen from different Greek magazines that address various adult consumers. More precisely, Elle and BHMADONNA are magazines aimed at women, Eikones and Epsilon are magazines circulated every Sunday with the newspapers Ethnos and Eleftherotypia respectively, Ef Zein is a gastronomic magazine, while Nel Lines is distributed for free to all those travelling with Nel Lines ships to the islands of Chios and Lesvos. What is more, the advertised alcoholic beverages can be divided into those that are produced in Greece (Cair, Dionysou Chora, Ouzo MINI Mytilene) and those that are imported (Campari [Italy], Kalhúa [Mexico], Mini Chic [France], Haig [Scotland], Tanqueray [England]). In terms of advertising techniques (Cook 2001), the majority of these ads are short copies with the exception of Ouzo MINI Mytilene being a fairly long copy. Other techniques used are those of soft-sell and tickle due to the fact that alcohol


advertising opts for establishing certain ‘images’ for the product, rather than offering concrete information about it (Kilbourne in Lubinski 2000). So, the focal point of the discussion henceforth will be the unveiling of these ‘images’.


Data analysis


Ideational metafunction

As Kress and van Leeuwen (1996: 56) have suggested, participants in visuals may either be involved in some kind of action (narrative representation) or may be presented in terms of their class, structure, meaning or essence (conceptual representation). It is also possible to have pictorial embeddings, that is combinations of the aforementioned representations. Ad1 constitutes a case of embedding action and analytical processes (ibid: 89-90) since the model is an actor (she holds a glass, she licks her finger) and simultaneously a carrier of possessive attributes (blonde, blue-eyed, perfect make-up, red-painted nails, white blouse). On the contrary, the man in Ad6 in seeing his reflection in the water performs a non-transactional action while his facial characteristics are quite inconspicuous. Harking back to Ad1, the picture of the bottle and the glass on the left shows an analytical process where those vessels carry the sensory quality (colour, savour, smell) of the champagne as a whole. The same applies to Ad7 and Ad8 where the glasses of wine and ouzo respectively are placed on the foreground. In Ad8 the image in the middle is analytical as well, with the ouzo factory as a carrier of cupreous tubes, bricks, stairs and so on. Not only do conceptual representations include analytical processes, but also symbolic and classificational ones (ibid: 79). For instance, looking at the left image of Ad8, we are dealing with a symbolic suggestive process (ibid: 110) whereby the church metonymically stands for Christianity, an essential part of the Greek identity, giving thus readers a sense of

recognition and belonging (Goddard 2002: 81).

Similarly, the props in Ad3 (shirt, dress, high-heeled shoes, bra, bed) in combination with their messy arrangement in the setting serve as referents that elicit or educe sexual thoughts (Reichert 2003: 23-4). What is interesting is that the sexual content does not take form in the ad, but in the viewer’s mind (ibid.). Ad2 is a collage


presenting a symbolic attributive process (Kress and van Leeuwen 1996: 108) in which the identity of the woman is established by the meaning that the tiger represents. This is what Forceville (1996: 126) calls ‘metaphor with two pictorially present terms’. The metaphor here is WOMAN IS TIGER. The concept TIGER evokes a domain that contains connotations such as exoticness, mystery, instinct, attack and sensuality which are projected upon the target domain WOMAN. The central idea in classificational processes is that of taxonomy (Kress and van Leeuwen 1996: 81). Ad5 is a case of covert taxonomy where the proposed equivalence between the participants is visually realised by a symmetrical composition. They are at equal distance from each other having the same size and orientation towards the horizontal and vertical axis. In this type of taxonomy, the common denominator that brings together all the participants is Tanqueray. Apart from the advertising aesthetics, forms of practice are propelled as well (Kress and van Leeuwen 2001: 36). Two of the participants in Ad5 are chatting and enjoying while in Ad8 the participants are having a good time with friends. Needless to mention that the participants in both ads are carriers of possessive attributes (physical appearance, clothing). In Ad4, the advertiser expects to activate our politics schema by anthropomorphisizing the corkscrews and putting them in a single-levelled overt taxonomy; the superordinate (the politician) is connected to and placed above a number of subordinates (the grass roots) through a tree structure with two levels (ibid: 88). This image-schema is triggered, first and foremost, by the existence of the dais. Then, by the politician’s gesture which is typical of the passion and enthusiasm that accompany such speeches. And of course, by the flags and the key words promise and commitment. It should also be noted that as the corkscrews (voters) are not identical to each other but all of them serve to open the bottle of wine (vote the same party), so we as readers although being different from each other, we all can savour the wine. Concluding, most of these ads include two pictures; one presenting the fantasy attached to the alcoholic drink, the other the drink itself (van Leeuwen 2005: 10). Nevertheless, in Ad7 the product and its fantasy co-exist in the same picture whereas in Ad3 the labelled bottle is not depicted at all. Instead, we have a blending of genres, namely of an ad and a cocktail recipe and what is pictured is the cocktail.



Interpersonal metafunction


Demand and offer images Starting with demand images (Kress and van Leeuwen 1996: 122), in Ad1,

Ad2 and Ad5 (only the long-haired man) the represented participants look directly at the viewer forming vectors by their eye-lines. To put it differently, these images ‘demand’ that the viewer enters into an imaginary relationship with the participants. More analytically, the woman in Ad1 presents a kind of sexual behaviour including smiling and flirting whilst her licking gesture may subconsciously suggest fellatio (Reichert 2003: 14-27). In Ad2, the woman in gazing directly at the reader has adopted a pose that is meant to be both enticing and predatory (Sturken and Cartwright 2001: 208). Her half-opened mouth insinuates thirst to attack like a tiger either for Kalhúa or for sexual pleasure. In addition, sexual content can be identified in terms of physical attractiveness (Reichert 2003: 22). Both women stand for an ideal of feminine pulchritude (Goldman 1992: 115). They share perfectly smooth facial skins, glossy lips, expressive eyes and seductive hair (Dyer 1982: 96-104). Therefore, by portraying woman in ads as a paragon of beauty (Goldman 1992: 117), the relationship of the readership to the picture is one of desire, either a desire to be like the woman (female viewer) or to have the woman (male viewer) (Bignell 2002: 47). Benwell (2002: 161) contends that the narcissistic female gaze in ads is not adopted by male models. The man in Ad5 smiles friendly and rather conspiratorially to the reader leaning forwards as if he wants to share his secret: Class. Some people pay for it. Some people have it. The other three participants address us indirectly and impersonally; they are offered as items of information and objects of contemplation (Kress and van Leeuwen 1996: 124). The man in Ad6 is also represented in a nonstraightforward manner, but the novelty is that his image is offered through his reflection. Viewers become the invisible onlookers (they can see the man) of a moment of self-awareness (the man ‘sees into’ himself). It could be useful here to take into account the cathartic and purifying symbolism of water in philosophy and religion. In Ad8, although the man does not look at the viewer, he offers a glass of ouzo to him/her and this offer is possible to be seen as a real offer which can be obtained by calling the number specified in the advert (ibid: 129). Notice that there is


a speech act (or function) of offering goods and services (Halliday 1985): With joy we will show you around the secret world of ouzo MINI, you will savour its incomparable flavour and you will get to know the complete range of our products. We wait for you every day (except weekend) from 10 am to 2 pm. For better service, please call at tel.: 2251044111, before your visit. This last statement reveals that apart from ouzo MINI, the local shop in Mytilene is also advertised.


Social distance


Visual involvement/detachment

In Ad1 we can see the woman in a close shot which indicates a close personal distance. The woman in Ad2 is shown in a very close shot as if we are able to touch her and being involved in an intimate relationship with her. In Ad5, Ad6 and Ad8 the participants are surrounded by space in medium and medium long shots manifesting far social distance. Furthermore, the glass and the bottle in Ad7 are represented at close distance as if the viewer stands in front of the table on which they are displayed. The bottles in Ad1 (plus the glass), Ad2 and Ad8 are shown at middle distance as within the viewer’s reach but not as actually used, whereas in Ad3 (the cocktail), Ad4, Ad5 and Ad6 are put at long distance, a case which is usually encountered in luxury products. However, in the background of Ad5, the Tanqueray bottle can be viewed from a high angle giving the sense of being at the viewer’s command. Lastly, the landscape and the factory in Ad8 are presented from a middle distance suggesting that the viewer can be imaginarily located within them (Kress and van Leeuwen 1996: 130-46). The distance between ad and receiver is not only constructed by dint of visuals but also in terms of language and this is going to be the issue of the next section.



Linguistic involvement/detachment The strategies of involvement1 (Reisigl and Wodak 2001: 82-3) that the

advertisers employ for the emotional and cognitive engagement of the reader are the following: 1. Ambiguity. Slogans are deliberately ambiguous enabling the reader’s active participation in narrowing down the possible meanings. As Cook (2001) notes, via ambiguity ‘[t]he product becomes associated with emotions and concepts of an abstract, universal, positive and important nature, and is elevated into this realm’. The alcoholic drinks are ‘pushed through the boundaries reflected in language’, becoming actions and concepts as well (ibid.). Sparkling in Ad1 is intended to mean ‘containing bubbles of gas’. Yet, it can also mean i) ‘shining and flashing with light’, ii) ‘interesting and amusing’, or iii) ‘excellent, of very good quality’ (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary 2005). The adjectives pink and chic can apply both to Mini Chic or the woman (van Leeuwen 2005: 151). Additionally, the word explosion could be considered an example of double entendre (Reichert 2003: 23). Red drinks in Ad3 may either refer to the lovers’ savouring of one another’s kisses like drinks (see the red kisses on the shirt and the recipe’s title CAMPARIFRENCHKISS) or to the cocktails made from Campari. In Ad2 let it out may concern i) the Kalhúa inscription which is literally taken out of the bottle, ii) the drink itself (to let it out of the bottle), iii) the feeling of passion. 2. Imperative that urges readers to take action: let it out (Ad2), add and serve (Ad3), please call (Ad8). 3. Emphasizing particles: so pink, so chic (Ad1), only, precisely, of course, by no means, particularly (Ad8). 4. Evaluative statements to highlight the uniqueness of the product and increase desirability (Fairclough 2003: 172): exclamations (chic!, explosion! [Ad1]), distilled four times, the world’s finest botanicals, it’s a privilege (Ad5), for real (Ad6), 10 year old Olympic Medal (Ad7), indubitable qualifications, a cool, suave drink, quality and savoury, clean and traditional drinks, ethereal, special result, excellent conditions, absolute enjoyment, incomparable flavour (Ad8). 5. Metaphors that add vividness to the meaning: raspberry explosion (Ad1), history is deeply rooted, the land that gives birth, an ambassador of Mytilene, secret ritual, transubstantiation, mystic ceremony (Ad8). It is worth noting here that some 1

A great deal of them concerns Ad8 since it is a long copy one.


concepts from the domain of religion are used in order to present the production of ouzo as a holy process. 6. Spatial reference (Wodak et al. 1999: 35): imported from France (Ad1), imported London Dry Gin (Ad5), Cair Rodos (Ad7), Mytilene, regional springs, Lisvorian, the island, Lesvos, the land of ouzo, the Aeolian land (Ad8). 7. Argumentation. Topos of advantage (Reisigl and Wodak 2001: 75): Class. Some people pay for it. Some people have it (Ad5); topos of authority realised by means of quotations (Wodak et al. 1999: 37): “Everyone can see things. Few can see into things” (Ad6) is a token of condensed wisdom that resembles a proverb, while the quotes in Ad8 “There that … precisely thus” and “While the quantities … its production” give the impression of expertise. In both these ads the agency is omitted, notwithstanding the statements welcome the reader to a relationship of trust since their content is presented as being truthful; topos of the lovely/idyllic place (ibid.: 39): a feeling of relaxation and enjoyment offered to you by the numerous balconies of Mytilene, those that inspire you to keep a lookout and dream (Ad8); topos of culture (Reisigl and Wodak 2001: 80): history deeply rooted in the social and gastronomic tradition of the island, since antiquity, traditional cupreous vessels, traditional recipe (Ad8).

Tradition here authenticates the product by imparting to it the value of

reliability, the test of time, the approval of our forefathers and a sense of lineage (Sturken and Cartwright 2001: 218). 8. Pronouns. In Ad7 the question functions as an offer either from the producer to the consumer or from a man to a woman (or vice versa) that are about to have dinner in this romantic setting. It could also be said that the glass of wine is anthropomorphised and asks the couple/viewers to drink. In any case, the possibilities of vous are two: it either addresses one person (formality, kindness) or two or more (plurality). In Ad8 the speaker switches from one pronoun to another. I and my in the narrative of the first paragraph sound manipulative and intentionally sentimental (Goddard 2002: 105); s/he is the relator of experiences and motives leading to purchase ouzo (Cook 2001: 156-7). You directly addresses the reader while we is at some points addressee-inclusive (our conscience, we would say) referring to a mutual perspective and at others addressee-exclusive referring only to the manufacturers (we will show, we wait).


9. Repetition as a way of establishing intimacy (ibid.). In Ad8 the brand name ouzo MINI is repeated six times. Chic as well is repeated in Ad1 whereas in Ad4 the repetition of Dionysou Chora is visually enforced by the flags. 10. Contractions as conversationalization indicators (It’s not a beverage, it’s a privilege) 11. Intertextuality in assuming shared familiarity (Fairclough 2003: 173). In Greek mythology, Dionysus was the god of wine and enjoyment and therefore, the wine producers exploited his name for their brand, Dionysou Chora, to connote a country of wine and enjoyment. Moreover, the statement ‘in this …commitment’ ironically alludes to political speeches which for reasons of persuasion are usually laden with speech acts of promising. In Ad7, the question ‘voulez vous boire avec moi?’ echoes the notorious lyric ‘voulez-vous coucher avec moi?’ of Labelle’s song ‘Lady Marmalade’ which is full of sexual innuendo (Appendix II). Contrary to the aforementioned strategies which more or less aim at establishing a close relationship with the readers, the interdiscursive occurrence of the ad and the statutory health warning Enjoy Responsibly (bottom right in all ads except Ad4 and Ad7) puts a barrier by reminding them that alcohol (ab)use can be risky and dangerous to one’s health and well-being (Ammann Howard et al. 2004: 576).



The interpersonal metafunction can also be realised by dint of modality which according to Forceville (1999: 166) is the ‘degree of a picture’s commitment to the ‘truthfulness’, to reality’. In visuals, modality can be low, with soft colours or high, with more saturated and differentiated colours (Kress and van Leeuwen 1996: 164). In advertising, the discourses that are realised through the mode of colour express, articulate and promote certain values (Kress and van Leeuwen 2001: 25). In Ad1 pink2 is a girlish colour which is associated with intuition, fantasy and daydreaming. The phrase so pink is in pink for emphasis, whilst so chic is in black. This may have to do with the fact that black forms part of our dress-code in many ‘chic’ and formal occasions (Gage 1995: 189). The participants in Ad5 for example are dressed in black 2

All references to colour symbolisms in this section are taken from (last access 05/03/2006).


for the purpose of this formal gathering. This ad and Ad6 as well are distinguished for their complete absence of colours. This low modality of black and white may imply authenticity as ‘class’ and the ability to ‘see into things’ do not need hyperreal colours to be true (Kress and Van Leeuwen 1996: 163). Conversely, Ad3 and Ad7 present high modality due to the vibrant red. Red connotes desire, warmth, passion and sexuality. In Ad7, it is reinforced by the orange background and the blurred heart while in Ad3 it is contrasted to the ‘whiteness’ of the shirt which stands for purity, innocence and sensitivity. In Ad2 the woman’s ‘browness’ combined with the tiger’s ‘orangeness’ emit ‘fire’, vitality and well-being. In Ad4 yellow is a stimulating colour related to joy while the prosodies attached to purple are those of spirituality and mystery. Green in Ad8 has a harmonising effect associated with hope, renewal and freshness. Note that these colours are based on either the colour of the alcoholic beverage or the colours of its packing.


Textual metafunction

Composition relates the representational and interactive meanings of the image to each other through information value, framing and salience (ibid.: 183). Starting with information value (fig.2), placing the woman in Ad1 at the new/ideal position means that she represents the most idealised and salient information of the ad and hence, the viewer has to pay special attention to her (ibid.: 187-94). It is notable that the label and the brand name of the product, its certification (Scollon 2006), is presented as real/new signalling the more specific and down-to-earth information that the reader can obtain. This is almost a default case which also applies to Ad2, Ad5, Ad6 and Ad8. As Kress and Van Leeuwen (1996: 194) assert, this is no less ideological: the ideologically foregrounded part of the message is communicated visually and the certification serves as an elaborating factor.


Fig.2. The dimensions of visual space (Kress and van Leeuwen 1996: 208)

Another feature of Ad1 is that the pink line with the raspberries functions as a mediator (fig.3.1) that brings together the ideal with the real (ibid.: 208). Likewise, the pictures in Ad8 constitute a triptych (fig.3.2) where the factory as





mediator bridges the given left (island) with

the new right (ouzo) both pictorially and literally. Ideal Mediator Real

Fig.3.2 Horizontal triptych. (Kress and van Leeuwen 1996: 211)

Fig.3.1 Vertical triptych. (Kress and van Leeuwen 1996: 211)

As regards framing (ibid.: 217, van Leeuwen 2005: 12-13), in all eight ads colours are repeated forming a visual rhyme that creates a degree of connection between the promise of the product and the product itself. In Ad5 and Ad7 the text is absorbed into the fantasy of the picture (textual integration). The Campari label in Ad3 is seen as an overlap which, by being half in the pictorial and half in the textual space, allows the harmonious fusion of the two genres. In contrast, in Ad8 the pictures and the text occupy different territories, that is the dream world is shown in the picture and the reality, the actual product is described in the text (visual segregation). The image and the words in Ad6 are separated not only in terms of space but also by lighting discontinuity. Unlike the textual space which is black and dark, the visual one is illuminated. Textual and visual separation takes place in Ad4 as well. Turning to salience, typographical presentation is a noteworthy factor as it works through connotation (Kress and Van Leeuwen 2001: 121, Goddard 2002: 14). The calligraphy of ‘voulez vous boire avec moi?’ in Ad7 has a certain elegance and


style that can be savoured like the glass of wine (Van Leeuwen 2005: 42). In addition, it constructs a context of formality, luxury and romance. In Ad6, the text seems to have been written by a human hand appearing thus more friendly and realistic. Other salient typographic characteristics include:

Emboldening (It’s not a beverage, it’s a privilege, Frenchkiss, Travelling to Lesvos with ouzo MINI Mytilene, Tradition and quality). Enlargement (Kalhúa, Class … it, so pink … so chic, Dionysou Chora, quotes in Ad8). Capitalisation (CAMPARI, CAMPARIFRENCHKISS) Shadowing (let it out) i in chic (label) is dotted by a champagne bubble

Finally, cultural factors can also be salient (Kress and van Leeuwen 1996: 212). Language choice in advertising constitutes a broad cultural issue (Myers 1994: 91) which cannot go unnoticed. Apart from the health warning, Ad1, Ad2, Ad5 and Ad6 use exclusively English conveying links to urban sophistication, youth culture or international trade (ibid: 95) as the particular drinks are imported. Ad3 switches from English to Greek, while Ad4 and Ad8 opt only for Greek, perhaps in order to stress uniqueness. In Ad7 though, Cair Rodos is a Greek wine accompanied by a French text, alluding to the France of good food, good wine and of course, romanticism.



The purpose of this paper was to explore how alcohol advertising adds values to its products in a way that they acquire particular attributes, indicate certain lifestyles and produce images for the potential consumers/readers (Sturken and Cartwright 2001: 206-7). Given that in reality ‘drinking large quantities of spirits makes people fatter, less fit, less sexually potent and poorer’ as Cook (2001: 15) has humorously put it, advertisers colonise the sphere of ideology in both visuals and language so as to award heightened meanings to alcoholic beverages bypassing thus the lurking danger of their consumption. To recapitulate, it was shown that the analysed ads promote a variety of values and beliefs that have to do with:


beauty, desire, sensuality, hedonism, sexual pleasure (Ad1, Ad2, Ad3, Ad7) romance, sophistication (Ad7) authenticity (Ad4, Ad5, Ad6, Ad8) company, joy, enjoyment, entertainment (Ad4, Ad5, Ad8) class, chic, glamour (Ad1, Ad5) insight, introspection, meditation (Ad6) culture, heritage, history, tradition, religion, national identity (Ad8)

One could go even further and examine advertising ideology in terms of power relations. For example, why a man is not suitable for advertising the pink champagne or why female sexual display is a desired mythic attribute of women but not men (Bignell 2002: 47); yet, this was out of the scope of the present project. What is more, there are some limiting factors (ibid.: 44) that need to be taken into consideration when analysing ads. Firstly, some meanings may deliberately be ambiguous in order to call for a range of open interpretations. Secondly, meanings are likely to be decoded partially, incorrectly or perversely on account of readers’ socio-cultural, historical and geographical specificities. Ethnography hence could prove to be of great value in finding out whether the linguistic and visual signs used in ads point readers towards the same direction.



Ammann Howard, K., Flora, J.A., Schleicher, N.C. and Gonzalez McChesney, E. (2004) “Alcohol point-of-purchase advertising and promotions: prevalence, content and targeting”. Contemporary Drug Problems 31: 561-83.

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Appendix I


In the translations of Greek ads there was an attempt to keep the closest possible to the original and that is why at some points they may sound somewhat unnatural.

In Ad1, Ad2, Ad3, Ad5, Ad6 and Ad8, the health warning Απολαύστε υπεύθυνα (Apolafste Ipefthina) (bottom right) corresponds to Enjoy Responsibly.


Ad1 (BHMADONNA, May 2005)

Ad2 (Elle, February 2006)

Ad3 (Eikones, November 2005)

Ad4 (Eikones, November 2005)


Ad5 (Epsilon, February 2005)

Ad4 (Eikones, November 2005) CAMPARIFRENCHKISS INGREDIENTS 1 part of Campari 1 part of Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge 2 parts of orange juice

CREATION Add ice and serve in a long drink glass.

Dionysou Chora in this country using the future tense for amusement and good cheer is not promise; it is commitment

literally translated as Dionysus’s Country

Rosé Cair Réserve, 10 year old Olympic Medal 31st Competition IWSC England


Travelling to Lesvos with ouzo MINI Mytilene…

“There that the conditions of competition are hard, almost flattening, the titles and the rights are only gained when the qualifications are indubitable. And the qualifications of MINI are precisely thus”. When I hear of ouzo what comes to my mind is a perfume, a cool, suave drink with or without ice, a bottle of ouzo MINI Mytilene and of course a feeling of relaxation and enjoyment offered to you by the numerous balconies of Mytilene, those that inspire you to keep a lookout and dream. I guess that this connection has passed in our conscience. It is because of the history of this drink which [the history] is deeply rooted in the social and gastronomic tradition of the island. It is also, we would say, from its absolute dependence on the land that gives birth to the goods that compose it. All the aromatic plants that are used for its production are products from Lesvos while the water emanates from regional springs, known since antiquity. Originating from the land of ouzo, ouzo MINI Mytilene, with its quality and savoury, constitutes an ambassador of Mytilene in the field of clean and traditional drinks.

“While the quantities of the produced good have been multiplied, this has by no means influenced the way of its production”.

Tradition and quality

In the traditional cupreous vessels as if in a secret ritual, the ethereal Lisvorian aniseed, the water, the alcohol and the other goods of the Aeolian land, all together contribute to their transubstantiation, each one with its own percentage of participation, giving a particularly special result according to the traditional recipe. After the completion of the mystic ceremony in the vessels, ouzo MINI Mytilene follows henceforth its modernised course, through the modern ways of bottling, under excellent conditions of hygiene and control, in order to reach there where it will carry out its specific destination, the satisfaction of absolute enjoyment.


With joy we will show you around the secret world of ouzo MINI, you will savour its incomparable flavour and you will get to know the complete range of our products. We wait for you every day (except weekend) from 10 am to 2 pm. For better service, please call at tel.: 2251044111, before your visit.

Note: Mytilene is the capital of Lesvos but is used metonymically by most Greeks to refer to the whole island of Lesvos.

Appendix II LADY MARMALADE Hey Sister, Go Sister, Soul Sister, Go Sister Hey Sister, Go Sister, Soul Sister, Go Sister He met Marmalade down in Old New Orleans Struttin' her stuff on the street She said "Hello, Hey Joe, you wanna give it a go?" 'Mmm Hmmm Gitchi Gitchi Ya Ya Da Da Gitchi Gitchi Ya Ya Here Mocca chocolata Ya Ya Creole Lady Marmalade Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? Voulez-vous coucher avec moi? Stayed in her pool while Watch he crashing up That boy drank all that night don't know why Oh the last sight she went He started to freak Heh, Heh, Hehhhh Seeing her skin feeling silky smooth Colour of cafe au lait Made the savage beast inside Roaring till it cried More, More, More


Now he's at home doing 9 to 5 Living his brave life of lies But when he turns off to sleep All memories keep More, More, More Gitchi Gitchi Ya Ya Da Da Da Gitchi Gitchi Ya Ya here Mocca chocolata Ya Ya Creole Lady Marmalade Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?

Written by Kenny Nolan and Bob Crewe Recorded by LaBelle 1975 %20Moi%20Lyrics.html (last access 13/03/2006)

LADY MARMALADE (the same song was covered in 1998 with some differences in the lyrics by All Saints). Hey Sister, Go Sister, Soul Sister, Go Sister

Do you fancy, ah, hitting the sack? That's my kitty cat, is all that And then son, you are the one Gotta represent, gotta go the whole run We can play all night, gotta do it right Snuggle up, huddle up, nice and tight My place or yours? Gotta be raw Don't really matter once you get in the door Coochi, coochi, yaya, dada Coochi, coochi yaya, here Mooka-chooka, latta, yaya Where you think you're sleeping tonight? (oh) Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? Voulez-vous coucher avec moi? Now come on and share all your deep fantasies I'm asking not telling you please 28

show me all night, you can do me right Take me where I wanna be and I'll be singing Coochi, coochi, yaya, dada Coochi, coochi yaya, here Mooka-chooka, latta, yaya Where you think you're sleeping tonight? Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? Voulez-vous coucher avec moi? Hey Sister, Go Sister, Soul Sister, Go Sister

Mooka-chooka, latta, yaya Couchez ce soir? Wrong, wrong, that's right Bring it in, Daddy, its the bedroom fight Gonna head for your doors, and put 'em off fast Gonna keep up if you think you can last Gotta get wet, are you ready yet? On your mark, get set Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? Voulez-vous coucher avec moi? (last access 13/03/2006)


linguistic and visual strategies of alcohol advertising  

MA assignment in critical discourse analysis

linguistic and visual strategies of alcohol advertising  

MA assignment in critical discourse analysis