Ethics and humour in advertising strategy

Ethics and humour or humor advertising strategy

Ethics and humour

Sometimes in advertising, ethics and humour are closely related. Through the analysis of advertisements, we demonstrate how certain types of humour summon ethics, but also how this summoning weakens the confidence that the sender seeks to establish with the receivers. It thus appears that certain humorous types can render the advertisement inefficient regarding its objectives by playing on the receivers’ modality of believing/not-believing and the sender’s modality of crediting /discrediting. In order to choose the “good” combination between these two alternatives of this modality and the crediting or descrediting the sender is helped by the semiotic generativity of the utterance. This article stems from a more complete and more general work about humour, its types and properties, as well as the operations inherent to it.

Ethics and humour, introduction

Brand in advertising grasps the ethical question even when its marketing strategy seeks to avoid this dimension, while another will openly embrace it.

– Potentializing – actualizing the recipient’s purchase of or adhesion to the product or service proposed.

– In the process of persuasion, humor can help the brand. It allows for the reader to go from being a mere sender to participate in the enunciation.

– For the target receiver of an ironic proposition (the foil and a helper audience)
the critique of its value presupposes the crediting of its opposite and summons dysphoria, by which we mean a phoric state worse than the receiver’s initial state.

– For the sender (author and subscribing public) the critique of the opposite value presupposes the crediting of its value and summons euphoria. The commutations are thus inverted.

– We consider humour as a collective organization of enunciations aiming at the very least for the phoric commutation of the actants, which can however generate a movement of rendering the actants responsible through ethic and/or axiological mutation.

– Commutation is an operation between two positions along one sole semantic axis. It allows the transition from one position to the other: to move from a dysphoric state to a euphoric state, from one behavior pattern to another, from one value to another. Commutation is also an operation between two commutations along two different semantic axes. It also allows commutation along a second axis. Mutation is effected between the phoric axis and/or the axiological axis. It’s a combination of commutations.

– humour (as a category containing different types) thus renders possible different types of commutations  by articulating these scales.

– To situate this operation with regards to the comprehension of humour defined earlier, we have presupposed the existence of 3 scales: phoric, ethic and axiological (with gradated positions)

– We are going to consider them as postulates without seeking to demonstrate their existence. The choice of 3 scales stems from the research currently in progress. It is founded both on a theoretical viewpoint through the confrontation of multidisciplinary conceptions of humour and on an empirical viewpoint, through the numerous concrete analyses that validate it. […]

Conclusion :

Let us now resume our analysis on the relation between ethics and humour

– On a figurative level, because of their excessive specificity, the humorous scenarios are not very plausible.

On the thematic level, this plausibility is induced by a lack of specificity and abstraction.

Now, this transition from the (general) thematic to the (specific, particular) figurative concerns exactly what Jacques Fontanille has referred to as ethical casuistics. According to Jacques Fontanille “The true ethical discourse is the one that deploys alternative figurative paths using thematical-narrative paths and abstract axiological principles”.

Though the figurative level presents alternative paths without their being abstract. As a matter of fact, it is even their realism that allows for humour, and humour that in turn allows one to support them. For the receiver, humour makes the unacceptable acceptable and allows for the suspension of ethical judgment. It therefore appears to us that one must add abstraction to the alternative aspect of the figurative level.

A recapitulation is provided in the following chart, after which we’ll proceed to two other examples in order to illustrate the ethical problematic through abstract figurative paths followed by an example of a type of humour that resolves the debate between ethics and humour in favor of the brand.

http://epublications.unilim.fr/revues/as/2027

ethics and humor in advertising strategy

Catégorie : Parutions

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