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The Handbook of International Advertising Research by Hong Cheng

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12

Visual Rhetoric and International Advertising

Barbara J. Phillips and Edward F. McQuarrie

Introduction

Theories of advertising rhetoric are concerned with how a message is delivered – its style – rather than the content of the message itself. In terms of modern advertising style, pictures dominate. Over the last hundred years, the number of pictures in ads has increased (Pollay, 1985), the number of complex pictures in ads has increased (Phillips & McQuarrie, 2002), and picture-heavy ads have become more effective than copy-heavy ads (McQuarrie & Phillips, 2008a). The dominance of pictures is especially notable in the international marketplace. As marketers focus on developing unified global brands, brand images are increasingly standardized across countries, leading to the use of similar advertising executions in different markets. To facilitate such standardization, advertisers have turned to pictures as their primary advertising communication tool because they are worried that verbal copy will not translate well across the language barriers between countries (Bulmer & Buchanan-Oliver, 2006). Nonetheless, although advertising pictures are of great importance in international advertising practice, theories of how such pictures work have not been prominent in international advertising scholarship.

Taylor (2005), in his treatise on moving international advertising research forward, identifies a pressing need for stronger theoretical models of the factors that impact advertisers’ ability ...

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