That advertising can be a formidable tool for earning revenue was realised by most media outlets back in 1836. In June of that year, French newspaper La Presse carried paid advertising on its pages for the first time. The results were phenomenal as the advertisement had helped the paper lower its price and in the process, increase readership and profitability.
As other dailies in Europe began to follow suit, paid advertisements soon became the norm.
As media evolved to electronic through radio, movies and television and later into virtual media like the internet, social media and more, the form and content of advertisements also changed. But its purpose remained the same for the carrier, the advertiser and the receiver of the advertisement.
In the modern world, marketing professionals and advertisement firms are constantly in a struggle to make the most of airtime or space they can receive on any media. They try to develop the simplest advertisement that will send the message across to the advertised product or service's target segment in a society.
This is why most advertising professionals depend heavily on intertextuality.
Simply put, intertextuality defines the ways in which texts of any form gain meaning through their referencing or evocation of other texts'. The term 'intertextuality' was originally coined by Julia Kristeva, a poststructuralist around the sixties, as a response to Ferdinand de Saussure's theory and his claim that signs gain their meaning through structure in a particular text. Kristeva had argued that readers are always influenced by other texts, sifting through their archives, when reading a new one.
So, intertextuality occurs when writers borrow from previous texts, leading to layers of meaning.
Advertisements today are mostly intertextual. They are heavily dependent on semiotics - study of signs and symbolism - and texts from pre-existing content.
SEMIOTICS IN ADVERTISING: Most advertisements are purely semiotic with shades of social and some communicative activity.
This is why multinational companies spend thousands of dollars on coming up with a unique logo for themselves. Take the example of any mobile telecommunication operator which has operations in multiple countries. The logo of the parent company is present in all advertisements and other public posts in any one of those countries. The receiver of the message realises that the parent company is involved with the advertisement. This helps him or her to subconsciously attach the good or service with the multinational companies global image.
USE OF INTERTEXTS: The texts of content in advertisements vary due to limitation in space, airtime and the media it is being carried on.
Take for example, the short messages (SMS) Dhaka city-dwellers receive now-a-days on their cellphones from their local superstores during the two days of the weekend. These texts include names of products and prices that will prevail through that period.
While most people delete the texts without batting their eyelids, others identify the product that they are in need of, realise the three to five taka discount available, compared to price of the same product in a kitchen market, and make a decision to visit the superstore.
Intertext used here is that the products are being sold with discounted prices, while the superstore management banks on the detail that the receiver probably already knows the ongoing rates of the products in the market.
Advertisements using intertextuality tend to have a stronger impact on the viewer. When an advertisement makes the viewer think, it makes him or her feel a sense of belonging with the product or service that is being advertised. This sense of belonging more than often leads to making the decision of buying the advertised product or service.
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