By Mohammed Messaoud
By Mohammed Messaoud
Morocco World News
Beni Mellal, November 14, 2012
An advertisement is a reflection of society. Advertising through marketing communications is a social activity which functions to facilitate the selling of products or services. Effective advertisements can draw the consumers’ attention to products, change their mind and ultimately persuade them to purchase them, irrespective of their actual needs. Advertising has entered every scope of society: Arts, culture, sports, fashion, politics and even religion, and the rationale is that no discipline can stand out in ‘fierce’ competitive markets without advertising.
With the revolution in printing and imagery, advertisers have to pay for the product presentation and personality rather than the product utility. Psychologically, the association of image and words has practically shown how stimulus-response conditioning can affect the buying behavior of potential consumers. The theory of stimulus-response is psychologically-oriented as it stipulates that behavior can be conditioned by stimulus (advertisement, image, catchphrase, etc.) and response (actual buying of a product or service).
Print advertising policy is the most outstanding and effective technique among commercial techniques for its stability and availability in affordable wide-ranging media, namely newspapers, magazines, billboards, etc. Indeed, the language of print advertising abounds with pragmatically-motivated phraseological units or tropes such as: wordplay, idioms, metaphors, similes, slogans, proverbs, etc., which advertisers activate to secure readers’ (consumers) attention towards their brands or services. For this reason, retailers need to employ a variety of strategies related to product specificities, price, place, service, etc., in order to stand out amidst the existing market competition. In order to draw the reader’s attention, advertisers exploit this pragmatic potential of phraseological units or topes by making use of them both contextually and occasionally in respect to the consumer’s psychology and necessity.
In the Moroccan print advertising discourse, the use of wordplay and idiomatic expressions is a very important aspect of persuasion in the sale or marketing of a product. Nowadays, in this world of outstanding mass media, Moroccan advertisements are omnipresent and greatly influence consumers’ free will vis-à-vis consuming. Consumption rates increase day after day as new products and services emerge.
Most Moroccan print advertisements rely on the popular cultural legacy. The use of idiomatic expressions in advertising is justified for the collective shared feeling and, especially, the emotional charge these expressions sustain in the Moroccan consuming society. The use of these expressions is most resorted to when the advertiser wants to show its common concerns and cares of the consumer, especially in cases where the advertising of a product or service is beneficial to not only the consumer, but the whole community as well. These include advertisements that target children’s education and care, women’s health, youth sobriety and so on. Below are some examples:
This type of advertisement is not meant to commercialize a product, but rather to sensitize women with breast-cancer to do precocious diagnosis to prevent any development of the disease. As said above, this very advertisement targets women’s health, and women’s health is an important issue in order to promote sustainable development. In other words, a healthy and sane woman secures a functioning society. For this reason and considering the growing danger of cancer, the advertiser -government & NGO’s mostly- targets the whole community by addressing not only their mind, but their emotions too. The use of the Moroccan idiomatic expression (precocious diagnosis is equated to bought gold) is by no means gratuitous, but it is the right catchphrase bait.
The first thing that attracts the reader is the alliteration on the level of both the brand name (coral) and the slogan (gain in quality and prices). The two words (coral) and (prices), are alliterative and therefore read smoothly, catch the reader’s attention, and eventually are easily memorized. In fact, this alliterative catchphrase has undergone some modification in tone from the last word. Originally, the phrase reads as (gain in quality and price) where (price) is in singular. The French version is totally similar to the Arabic one. Also, the brand name “Marjane” (coral in English) alliterates with the word “gagne” (win in English) in “j’ai vais, j’y gagne” (I go to “Marjan,” I win in “Marjane”).
This brand name “Label Vie” is a good example of wordplay. The word “Label” is in fact homophonous as it is pronounced like the French phrase “la belle” (in English: the beautiful). Also, ‘label’ is a French and English lexical entry meaning ‘A distinctive name or trademark identifying a product or manufacturer, especially a recording company’. This pun is meant to make the reader “pronounce” rather than “see.”
Psycholinguistically, “label,” a word which most Moroccan laymen consumers do not know the meaning of but liken to the French “la belle,” is a technique that goes beyond the brand owner’s actual advertising about its product. Indeed, the advertiser wants the consumers to internalize this homophony in their memory to end up with “la belle vie,” or (the beautiful life) in English.
This Moroccan ‘Dacia’ commercial seems similarly attractive through the use of the traffic sign (Stop). What really catches the reader’s sight is the funny play on the word (Wake up!) as an anagram of (stop). Psycholinguistically, it is in fact a tacit invitation to stop and wake up when reading this advertisement because it contains an extraordinary opportunity for the potential consumer, i.e., ‘Dacia car for MAD 599 . per month’ which perhaps other car dealers do not offer. The print commercial ends up with advice in Moroccan Arabic challenging the reader to seize the opportunity. By using Moroccan Arabic, the advertisement is meant to target a specific category of potential consumers; i.e. the middle-class stratum. Generally, the use of a pun in the form of an anagram, and the use of Moroccan Arabic are the ‘bait’ techniques Dacia dealers use to target potential consumers of the Moroccan middle-class.
By virtue of the fact that Moroccan print advertisements are famous, the metaphorical mapping they create in the Moroccan consumer’s conceptual system and commonsense experience, most advertising agencies in Morocco exploit the socio-cultural stimuli of Moroccan idiomatic expressions along with wordplay in a bid to catch the reader’s attention and interest, persuade, and ultimately instigate one to buy a product or service, irrespective of consumers’ real needs.
To be continued …