Contraceptive advertising – A critical multimodal analysis
Keywords:contraception, critical multimodal analysis, genre, joint problematisation, medical magazine advertising, pharmaceutical branding
Co-authored by a discourse analyst, a branding expert and medical researchers and practitioners, this paper presents a multimodal discourse analysis of advertisements for contraceptive products in magazines and journals aimed at general practitioners, gynecologists and obstetricians. It combines genre analysis and multimodal image, layout, colour and typography analysis to show how such advertisements link specific types of women to specific products and product attributes and benefits, and how product branding invokes values such as health, sexual freedom, sexuality, femininity, strength and reliability, which combine in different ways to create distinct identities for specific products. The findings show that the way the advertisements link products and users does not align with medical evidence, and that in general they do not represent the full range of factors that play a role in choosing contraceptive methods and products - indeed, they are far removed from the realities of the consultation room.
Barthes, R. (1973) Mythologies. London: Paladin
Barthes, R. (1977) Image-Music-Text. London: Fontana.
Berger, A. A. (2010) The Objects of Affection: Semiotics and Consumer Culture. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230109902
Berger, J. (1972) Ways of Seeing. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin
Boeriis, M. and Holsanova, J. (2012) Tracking visual segmentation: Connecting semiotic and cognitive perspectives. Visual Communication 11 (32): 259–281. https://doi.org/10.1177/1470357212446408
Briggs, P., Kovacs, G. and Guillebaud, J. (eds) (2013) Contraception: A Casebook from Menarche to Menopause. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (2010) Contraception Choices for Young People: Clinical Effectiveness. London: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Available online: http://www.fsrh.org/pdfs/ceuGuidanceYoungPeople2010.pdf
Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (2015) Intrauterine Contraception Clinical Unit. London: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Available online: http://www.fsrh.org/CEUGuidanceintrauterinecontraception.pdf
Fairclough, N. (1993) Critical discourse analysis and the marketization of public discourse: The universities. Discourse & Society 4 (2): 133–168. https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926593004002002
Fu, H., Darroch, J. E., Haas, T. and Ranjit, N. (1999) Contraceptive failure rates: New estimates from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth. Family Planning Perspectives 31 (2): 56–63. https://doi.org/10.2307/2991640
Kress, G. and Van Leeuwen, T. (2006) Reading Images – The Grammar of Visual Design (2nd edition). London: Routledge.
Lakoff, G. and Johnson, M. (1980) Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Machin, D. (2004) Building the world’s visual language: The increasing global importance of image banks. Visual Communication 3 (3): 316–336. https://doi.org/10.1177/
Martin, J. R. (1992) English Text: System and Structure. Amsterdam: Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/z.59
Sarangi, S. (2005) The conditions and consequences of professional discourse studies. Journal of Applied Linguistics 2 (3): 371–394. https://doi.org/10.1558/japl.v2i3.371
Van Leeuwen, T. (2001) Semiotics and iconography. In T. van Leeuwen and C. Jewitt (eds) Handbook of Visual Analysis, 92–119. London: Sage.
Van Leeuwen, T. (2005a) Introducing Social Semiotics. London: Routledge
Van Leeuwen, T. (2005b) Towards a semiotics of typography. Information Design Journal 14 (2): 139–150. https://doi.org/10.1075/idj.14.2.06lee
Van Leeuwen, T. (2011) The Language of Colour. London: Routledge.
Williamson, J. (1994) Decoding Advertisements – Ideology and Meaning in Advertising. London: Marion Boyars.
How to Cite
Equinox Publishing Ltd.