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Rhetorized images immediately strike the viewer as belonging to the realm of fantasy, dreams, hallucinations : rnetaphors become metamorphoses, hyperboles magnifications, ellipses levitations, etc. And even though advertisers often take care to provide 'realistic' justifications for these images double images made plausible by the presence of a mirror, magnifications justified by a magnifying glass, etc.

The former can be situated on the level of the paradigm, the latter on the level of the syntagm Our own classification is based on the same concepts, but uses both the paradigmatic and the syntagmatic level in defining each figure.

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Having defined the rhetorical figures as operations which, starting from simple propositions, modify certain elements of these propositions, we can now classify them along two dimensions : - on the one hand, the nature of this operation. The operations are mostly syntagmatic, the relations paradigmatic. In other words, operations involve the form of the expression the signifiers , relations the form of content the signifieds.

An investigation of the 'figures of diction' shows that they fall into five categories : the repetition of a sound rhyme, assonance, etc. The 'figures of construction' operate in the same way, but on words, rather than on sounds : the repetition of a word anaphora , the adjunction of a word pleonasm , the deletion of a word ellipsis , etc. Similar operations can, as Freud has shown, be found in dreams, jokes, etc. Jokes, p. To summarize, there are two fundamental operations : - adjunction, in which one or more elements are added to the proposition and which, as a special case, includes repetition : the adjunction of identical elements.

The problem is how to use these concepts in setting up supplementary degrees of the relations. Kergevant solves this problem by distinguishing two types of comparison : similarity and dissimilarity, and, within each, two degrees : weak and strong - analogy and identity on the one hand, difference and opposition on the other 4. Another solution notably that of Barthes and Greimas is to analyze the signified into its elements semes or 'lexical features' in order to identify which display identity, which difference.

Lupasco stresses the bond between similarity and difference - different logical objects correspond here to different degrees of the correlative actualization and potentialization of similarity and difference, without the total actualization of the one and potentialization of the other necessarily being attained 5. It seems, then, that not one, but two fundamental dichotomies exist : similarity and difference on the one hand, solidarity and opposition on the other.

And the relation between the two dichotomies is unstable and ambiguous. In the pre-oedipal stage the child acquires the distinction between the self and the other, and perceives similarity as a sign of belonging to the same class, as an extension of the self, and difference as the sign of exteriority and separation. This homology is reversed in the oedipal stage : sexual difference now signifies complementarity and desire, and sexual identity entails identity of the object of desire, hence conflict and rivalry.

Our own definitions will be more formal and based on the notion of the paradigm. The notion of paradigm can be related to the notion of transgression if one assumes that two terms from the same paradigm do not normally figure in the same proposition. The transgression is weak if the two terms have a relation of difference simple coincidence , strong if' they are in opposition encounter of two antagonistic elements , very strong if the two elements are identical duplication of one and the same element.

Departing from the elementary relations which link their respective elements, two propositions can be related as follows : - identity : only relations of identity ; - similarity : at least one relation of identity and one of difference ; - opposition : at least one relation of opposition ; - difference : only relations of difference.

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How should the constitutive elements of the proposition be defined? Here it is sufficient to note that they are the elements which support the elementary relations : an analysis of rhetorical figures will simultaneously bring out both the constitutive elements and the relations between them.

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It follows that not all the units of signification in the proposition are constitutive elements, but only those which the creator consciously uses in his rhetorical play. At the most basic level only two elements exist : the form and content. As will be seen, this division is difficult to transpose to advertising images. It is nonetheless the foundation of the classical definitions of rhetorical figures. And this distinction alone is sufficient to generate nine different types of relation between propositions :. Relations of content. Paradox and double meaning are interesting figures because they mix relations of content and relations of form : the relations of content are first perceived as homologous to the relations of form, but closer scrutiny reverses this interpretation.

In figure 2 an example is given for each type of figure. Relation between elements. Rhetorical operation. Repetition Many of the figures of repetition recognized in classical rhetoric are defined by the substance of the repeated element sounds, words, groups of words or by the position of the repeated element in the chain of speech beginning or end of the sentence, etc.

Repetition can be analyzed as a double relation of identity : identity of form and identity of content. Whereas verbal repetitions art often clumsy and tedious, visual repetitions can be achieved in a simple and straightforward way by the photographical reproduction of an image. This repetition can be realized in two ways : by the presence, in the same advertisement, of several identical photos, separated by white spaces Meraklon, ; a simple layout effect which transgresses a journalistic norm : it is unusual to see identical photos printed side by side in a magazine ; and by the presence of repeated elements in one and the same photo : here the principle of the unique identity of every individual entity is transgressed, and the image begins to approach fantasy Flesalba, Gradual variation in the size of the repeated image or image element Bade Das, creates the figure of gradation or climax in a way of which language can give only a feeble approximation.

Similarity Classical rhetoric recognizes two types of similarity figure : figures based on a similarity of form rhyme, apophony, paronomasia and figures based on a similarity of content simile, pleonasm, expolition, epanorthosis. This distinction can be applied also to images. Advertisements using formal similarity are not difficult to find. A Cadbury advertisement of compares the form of a biscuit to the form of a finger, reinforcing the similarity verbally 'It's like a finger'.

In its campaign, Baby Relax restricted itself to a verbal simile 'Baby Relax, the snuggling comfort of mother's arms' , in it managed to illustrate the slogan by creating a similarity of form between the advertised baby chair and a mother's body.

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It is, however, not always easy to distinguish between form and content in images note that, in the last two examples, the 'form' of the image became the 'content' of the text. Perhaps we should retreat to the more abstract definition of similarity : ensembles of elements of which some display similarity, others difference. The two essential elements of advertising images, then, are the product which interests the advertiser and the models, the people in the picture who interest the readers ; the other elements : poses, dress insofar as it is not the product advertised , props, setting, etc.

Each of these elements can display either similarity or difference, and hence eight possibilities can be distinguished, all actually found in advertisements, and corresponding to their own, distinct significations : a identical model s , identical product, identical form : the case of photographic repetition, discussed above.

This figure, then, explores a closed paradigm the paradigm of the different items in the range, or of the different uses of the product. Its abstract character is often underlined by a kind of contemplative immobility in the expression and the pose of the model s. The paradigm of the different items in the range can also be found in its pure form, without the use of models a carefully arranged variety of bottles or Suita herbs and the same applies to the paradigm of the different uses Jacquet bread : 'pure Thus an Ambre Solaire ad of shows seven different women, all wearing the same bikinis, and sitting in the same kind of chair, explaining their choice of a particular kind of suntan lotion from Ambre Solaire range.

The same figure can illustrate the uses of a product cleaning the various rooms of an apartment, Spic, Its concreteness does not exclude the possibility of a touch of fantasy : if the same model is shown twice in the same photograph but using different poses, the suggestion of two separate but identical people is set up, and the text often reinforces this by speaking of 'twins' or 'doubles' ID, ; Tassal, Again, if a model is shown two or more times in one and the same image, a touch of fantasy is added Mademoiselle Korrigan, ; Ombre et Soleil Mercier, ; Fantasia handbags, See A.

Reviewing the similarity figures, then, we can conclude that they serve to transmit a signified which can be analyzed as consisting of two correlative propositions : - the unity of the brandname ; and the unity is not, of course, an actual, but a de jure unity : the advertisement decrees that a single brand be used ; - the unanimity of the consumers' preference for the brand : and here, too, the unanimity is not a fact, but an ideal, a goal to be attained.

Advertising thus presents itself as 'monotheistic universalism' : 'there is only one God and everyone should praise Him'. But as our analysis has shown, the two propositions are, depending on the circumstances, expressed by different signifiers. The unity of the brandname may be expressed by the repeated presentation of the product itself. But if the product cannot be visualized, or consists of a range of different items, the unity of the brandname must be expressed by means of formal identity same poses, same dress or by the repeated use of the same model s , which, of course, entails the risk of conflicting with the second proposition.

The unanimity of the consumers' preference for the brand can be expressed by the use of different models a weak signifier, as it expresses plurality, rather than unanimity , or by showing all the members of a closed paradigm sexes, races One product. Range of items.


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Formal identity :. Identical people depicted. No people depicted.

Different people depicted. Formal difference :. Accumulation The addition of different elements to a message results in the figure of accumulation.


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  • This was the term used in classical rhetoric, and several other figures were associated with it, e. Accumulations create two signifieds. The first is that of quantity, or more exactly of abundance, because number requires a degree of structuration by means of relations of identity and difference which is absent in accumulations.

    The second signified is disorder, chaos : there is no structure in the arrangement of the people and the objects as in the simple expression of the paradigm ; they are unordered, heaped up, crowded together ; relations of identity and opposition are not only absent, but deliberately avoided. In its emphasis on the expression of profusion, the accumulation is a romantic figure.

    It is not, however, a strong figure : the avoidance of structuration limits its field of expression. Then there are accumulations of items from the range of a product, without people, or using one presenter only d'Aucy vegetables ; Picaud wool, ; Tupperware There are also accumulations of the models presenting the items, with a greater or lesser degree of homology between the models and the items Rasurel stockings ; Jill-Zodiaque T-shirts, Opposition The classical figures of opposition can also be grouped in two families, according to whether the opposition is one of form e.

    Quite a few advertisements form immediate transpositions of these figures.

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    In these examples the images illustrate verbal figures, but once the advertiser realizes the full potential of the means at his disposal, and begins to create systematic relations of identity and opposition within images, a more subtle use of figures of opposition becomes possible. Antithesis is justified by the presence of competing brands on the market. One solution to this problem is to ignore the competition and simply affirm the absolute value of the advertised brand, as though it were unique : this solution corresponds to figures of repetition, similarity and accumulation.

    Another solution is to bring the competition right into the heart of the advertisement, while placing the advertised brand in an advantageous position : instead of the panegyric of the one and only God, the refutation of idolatry and heresy : this is the role of the figures of opposition. The competing brands are rarely named in ads : law or custom forbid it in France although a Skip advertisement listed 49 brands of washing-machine. Most of the time an imaginary, anonymous brand is opposed to the advertised brand, or the non-use of the brand to its use, or two items from the range of the brand to each other.

    The layout usually creates a visual symmetry vertical or horizontal between the contrasting brands. They are shown in two different images, placed side by side. A detailed examination of the two images reveals the relations of identity and opposition which link the signifying elements in them. One of the images may be dark, for example, the other light, or one black and white, the other in colour. The reason for the simultaneous presence of relations of identity and opposition is obvious : the ad must, on the one hand, stress the fairness of the comparison, indicate that the competing brands stood an equal chance : the relations of identity signify the impartiality of the test ; on the other hand, the ad must also stress the result, and show clearly that the advertised brand outclasses the competition : the relations of opposition serve to signify the superiority of the advertised brand.

    These two objectives are, of course, contradictory, and it requires judicious juggling to pursue then simultaneously. The comparison may use one presenter only Krypton, ; Color Net lacquer, , or also oppose two presenters to each other Spic since ; Persil for the last 30 years. These two solutions result in different significations : the use of one presenter constitutes the most conclusive experiment, the test the readers can try out for themselves.

    But by inviting them to try the test, the advertiser also invites them to try the competitor's product and risks losing some of his established customers. To use different presenters is to oppose 'truth' and 'error', and to give them a human face ; it is an appeal to the judgment of the 'righteous' ; but it also suggests especially if the campaign is spread out over a long period that those who use the competitor's product cling to their erring ways with remarkable tenacity, and this somewhat diminishes the conclusive force of the advertiser's claim.

    At times the comparison is virtual and shows the result which would be obtained if the product were used Johnson car plate, There is usually only one presenter Allibert medicine cupboards, And as in the first figure of opposition there is an individual test, but this time it ignores the competition, and is, in this respect, close to the figures of similarity. Presenters are sometimes included, sometimes absent the paradigm in its pure state. The function of the figure is to emphasize the diversity of the range, or to neutralize the competition by placing one of its products amidst the advertiser's range.

    Whichever the variation used, a strict balance is maintained between the terms of the opposition ; no one item should be seen to be advantaged over another. And here, too, the two terms of the opposition are given strictly equal treatment. Figure 4 summarizes the main features of the figures of opposition. But the richness and real diversity found in the use of these figures should be stressed.

    Every advertisement must be closely scrutinized to extract a systematic inventory of its relations of identity, difference, and opposition. Paradigm of the brand :. Opposition between two brands. Identical model s.