The strategy of symbolic communication in corporate advertising - conspiracy of emotional and physical meanings
Advertising is undoubtedly one of the most important forces in the creation of corporate mythologies. Its magical power stems precisely from its ability to skillfully fabricate rich meanings out of the things devoid of meanings. This weaving of the meanings implies ideological manipulations and with the increase in the exchange value of the commodities, their symbolic value is generated thereby. Consequently, in the context of a consumer society, the fundamental objective of advertising is based on the “dual structure of consumption”35 - the acquisition of the physical object and the consumption of its meaning. This two-fold desire is what stimulates the consumption of the public.
As pointed above, the precondition for the substitution of the connotateurs is precisely based on this “dual structure.” For corporate advertising, its strategy of symbolic communication is essentially to transplant “human feelings, needs and desires” and other ideological factors onto the signs of the corporate organization or onto the signs related to the corporate organization, in such a way as to achieve the conspiracy of both the emotional and the physical meanings of commodities. Thus, the objective and physical properties of the commodities themselves, as well as the subjective and social properties injected into the commodities, jointly construct the corporate image. As indicated in Fig. 1.20, in advertising, human beings E1 and the corporate symbols (or symbols related to a corporation) E1’ are juxtaposed and the advertising communicator, by means of all conceivable tender and lyrical narrative techniques, places the recipients in a particular situation and transfers all the human emotional needs and social properties C2 to the corporate organization itself or to its brands and specific products. In this way, the communicator completes the construction of the signification of E1’ and C2. Up to this point, the corporate image that the public forms in their mind is also composed of a “dual structure,” which encompasses both the symbol’s signifier and its signified. A crucial fact is that here, the system of the signifiers consists of connotateur. The connotateur can be made up of one or several symbols, such as (E1 R1 C1) and (E1’ R1’C1’), whereas its signified consists of a system of meanings formed out of man’s ideology, for instance, C2. This corresponds to our description of a corporate image’s objective properties and subjective properties at the very beginning of this chapter. The objective properties are the natural properties while subjective properties are the social properties of the corporate image. What really matters is that, in the context of the consumer society, the social properties ascribed to a corporate symbol tend to exert a greater appeal to the public, play a greater role in generating symbolic value for a product and hence are better equipped to transform the corporate image into a form of “soft capital” that can significantly enhance a corporate organization’s competitiveness.
Figure 1.20 The Communication Mechanism of Connotateurs in Which Social Properties are Transplanted onto a Corporation or its Products