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									4.3 Vocabulary.

  Throughout this section I will be considering the use of vocabulary featured

within my sample of advertisements. I will be assessing the extent to which

terms and phrases are selected with targeting a specific audience in mind. I

will study terms of address (including the use of personal pronouns) and

issues of formality and familiarity. Further to this, I will consider lexical choices

that attempt to accommodate for the theme of the source publication. This will

include features such as connotative language or terms that incorporate other

topics or agendas.

                               Terms of Address.

  ‘Terms of address’ were identified as any use of vocabulary that had a

primary function of addressing, labelling or naming participants of the

advertisement, specifically, the audience. Personal pronouns such as ‘you’,

‘we’, ‘he’, ‘she’ etc, were included in this category as a form of address. I will

consider a selection of examples and interpret their significance in terms of

targeting audiences.

Example 1.

Who’s a naughty boy then?
(Gmax Suspension, Redline)

Example 2.

Off limits to brunettes! Push the limits of blondeness.
(Loreal Feria, Cosmopolitan)


  The examples displayed above have targeted their audiences by

establishing possible categories to which readers will either identify with or

not. Specifically, example 1 portrays a grammatical question seemingly

addressing a purely male target audience. This is indicated by its use of the

noun phrase ‘naughty boy’. Further to this, the noun phrase carries sexual

connotations that relate to the nature of the visual aspects of the

advertisement (discussed in the following ‘visuals’ section). The Loreal Feria

advertisement (example 2) is an example whereby the advertiser distinctly

labels two categories of possible audience i.e. blondes and brunettes. Further

to this, the latter category is dismissed in its involvement in the advertisement

by the use of the phrase, ‘off limits to brunettes.’

Personal Pronouns.

 Fairclough proclaimed that ‘despite the anonymity of mass-communication

audiences, the direct address of members of the audience on an individual

basis with ‘you’ is very common indeed’(Fairclough:2001:106). This trend

seems to be reflected in the significant use of the personal pronoun ‘you’

throughout my sample of advertisements.


1. ….so you won’t need to buy any rubbers.
(Gmax, Redline)
2. Every time you turn off your engine…..
(Redex, Redline)
3. You don’t have to put up with nagging joint pain.
(Maximuscle, Gardener’s World)
4. Have you had to give up the things you enjoy simply because of painful,
   aching joints?
(Maximuscle, Gardener’s World)
5. You’ve worked hard all your life and put in the hours, only to find that
   you’re forced to stop doing the things you really want to do…..
(Maximuscle, Gardener’s World)
6. Let me tell you an amazing story:
(Maximuscle, Gardener’s World)
7. If you have ever used drugs, you’ll know that’s pretty impressive.
(Maximuscle, Gardener’s World)

8. If you enjoy waking up every morning having aching, painful and sore
(Maximuscle, Gardener’s World)
9. If however you’re the sort of person that likes…..
(Maximuscle, Gardener’s World)
10. I guarantee you have nothing to lose….
(Maximuscle, Gardener’s World)
11. Enclosed with all orders, you’ll find a catalogue of…….
(Maximuscle, Gardener’s World)
12. I will enclose a special letter on how these supplements can help you
    take control of……
(Maximuscle, Gardener’s World)
13. All I ask is you buy and use Ache-free for a full month… If after this trial
    you don’t find that you are able to……
(Maximuscle, Gardener’s World)
14. I’ll without hesitation give you your full money back.
(Maximuscle, Gardener’s World)
15. You can’t get more risk free than that!
(Maximuscle, Gardener’s World)
16. So if you want 100% flake free hair that’s…..
(Head & Shoulders, Cosmopolitan)
17. Why follow trends when you can set them?
(Mazda 3, Cosmopolitan)
18. Because you’re worth it.
(Loreal Feria, Cosmopolitan)


  Although personal pronouns are a direct form of address i.e. they are

speaking to the individual reader (as shown by examples 1-18); they do not

necessarily indicate specific identities or attributes of the audience. In terms

of my sample, a significant proportion of personal pronouns expressed in the

possessive case e.g. ‘your’, ‘my’ etc, play a more significant role in stating

possible possessions or attributes of their desired/target audiences.


19. Lowering your suspension without shortened GMAX sports……..
(Gmax, Redline)
20. Takes care of your boots, so you won’t need to buy any rubbers.
(Gmax, Redline)
21. Your engine is running at peak performance.
(Redex, Redline)

22. Every time you turn off your engine your fuel injectors become hot..
(Redex, Redline)
23. Redex Petrol Injector Plus and Redex Petrol Injector Treatment clean and
    protect your fuel injection system.
(Redex, Redline)
24. If something’s throbbing under your bonnet, take a look tonight.
(The Adult Channel, Redline)
25. You’ve worked hard all your life and put the hours in….
(Maximuscle, Gardener’s World)
26. Ensuring that all your plants grow strong, resilient and above all healthy.
(Westland, Gardener’s World)
27. Quench your thirsty hair. Head & Shoulders hydrating smooth & silky
    washes the moisture back into your hair…
(Head & Shoulders, Cosmopolitan)


 The examples above show advertisements using possessive pronouns

along with nouns or noun phrases that associate the nature of the product

with the intended or desired target audience. For example, the advertisement

for Redex Petrol Injector, a product designed to maintain car engine

performance, specifies the intended audience by coupling possessive

pronouns with nouns associated with car ownership e.g. ‘your engine’, ‘your

fuel injectors’ etc (see examples 19-23). As a result, the advertisement clearly

establishes the target audience of the product i.e. individuals who own cars.

Similarly, the advertisement for 'Westland multi-purpose compost', uses the

possessive pronoun ‘your’ with the noun ‘plants’. In this sense, the target

audience is established as being owners and cultivators of plants. Specific

attributes or identities of the product’s intended audience are therefore

identified by the use of possessive pronouns accompanied by a noun or noun


    Formality/Familiarity (includes the use of non-standard features).

  The next issue concerning vocabulary, in terms of possible audience

design, is the aspect of formality and familiarity created through the selection

of lexical constructions. I have identified six examples below as being

particularly significant in terms of formality/familiarity and have identified their

relevance in targeting audiences.

Example 1:   ‘Gimmie somethin BIG!!’ (Plutonium Ground Zero, Redline)

  Deviant forms of graphology i.e. non-standard spellings, adopted by this

advertisement, create a less formal style of language. The non-standard

spellings represent how the words in question may be pronounced in a

natural, informal conversation. As a result, a sense of familiarity is created

between the character in the advertisement and the intended target audience.

Further to this, the sexual theme presented by the visuals of this

advertisement i.e. a naked female, is continued by the connotation of sexual

activities suggested by this construction.

Example 2:   ‘Tool up’ (Gmax, Redline)

  In this example, a non-standard form of verb is adopted to create the verb

phrase ‘tool up’. The term ‘tool’ is predominantly recognised as a noun

whereas in this example it has been used to create a seemingly ‘fashionable’

form of verb phrase. ‘Tool up’ is a verb phrase that is often associated with

criminal behaviour i.e. criminals will arm themselves, or ‘tool up’, in

preparation for a bank robbery etc. The verb phrase will therefore incorporate

connotations of criminal behaviour i.e. the excitement and the danger.

Redline magazine features articles covering car events that are frowned upon

by the police e.g. cruising and street racing. In light of this, it would appear

that the verb phrase has been deliberately selected to coincide with the

nature of the magazine.

Example 3:   ‘pop drug after drug’ (Maximuscle, Gardener’s World)

In this example, instead of the verb ‘take’, an informal or relatively more

popular form of verb that relates to the subject of taking drugs i.e. ‘pop’ is

utilised. In this way, the advertisement attempts to create a more familiar

relationship between the advertiser and the audience by adopting a more

conversational form of vocabulary.

Example 4:   ‘It would be silly for us to say…’ (Maximuscle, Gardener’s World)

  This is another example whereby the advertiser chooses a conversational

form of adjective in ‘silly’. If we consider alternative that could replace ‘silly’,

for example, ‘naïve’, ‘unwise’ etc, we can suggest that achieving a sense of

familiarity, between the advertisement and the audience, is the main objective

of the producer.

Example 5: ‘That they consider Hartley Botanic worthy of such accolade’
(Hartley Botanic, Gardener’s World)
Example 6: ‘We’ve been making the finest glasshouses money can buy…’
(Hartley Botanic, Gardener’s World)

  In contrast with the first four examples, examples 5 and 6 seem to select

more formal styles of vocabulary that at certain levels, suggest higher values

in terms of social class. ‘Accolade’(example 5) is a noun that refers to a

strong praise or approval, in the form of an honour or award. The term

‘accolade’ is therefore a term associated with style and quality. This tendency

of selecting words that have the image of class seems to be supported by the

use of the superlative adjective, ‘finest’. ‘Finest’ is a form of adjective

traditionally associated with describing objects of superior quality. At this

point, I would like to refer back to Geoffrey Leech’s research which stated that

‘highbrows are relatively unmoved by standard sales talk, and have to be

wooed through advertising which has an intellectual or off-beat appeal’. It

seems as though this advertisement may be catering for a more highbrow

category of audience through its selection of relatively more intellectual forms

of vocabulary.


 Lexical choices indicating levels of formality or familiarity between the

advertisement and reader, seem to hold an inherent value of targeting

specific categories of audience. For example, advertisements featured within

Redline magazine seem to adopt more informal terminology because the

producers perceive the niche audience as being more accustomed with this

style. By contrast, the advertisement for ‘Hartley Botanic glasshouses’ adopt

formal and inherently intellectual terms in order to appeal to a relatively more

highbrow audience. In terms of familiarity, the ‘Maximuscle’ advertisement

features lexical choices that promote a close relationship between the

advertisement and reader. If we consider that the likely consumers of this

product would be an older generation, it seems as though the advertiser has

deemed ‘familiar’ forms of vocabulary as an appropriate style to market to the


                  Topic-Specific & Connotative Language.

  In this final section, I will be discussing terminology featured in my sample

of advertisements that incorporated other topics or themes. I will establish

several examples and discuss their significance in terms of possible audience


Example 1:

This rare piece is the exquisite Fiesta Silver. Four sparkling 16” alloys set
against an exterior of metallic moondust silver. Inside, luxurious black leather
is complemented by CD player and oh-so-essential heated windscreen. The
season’s must-have, yours for £10,995. Go on, try it. Call 08457 111 888 or
visit The Ford Fiesta Silver. Rock solid.
(Ford Fiesta Silver, Cosmopolitan)

  Example 1 is taken from the ‘Ford Fiesta Silver’ advertisement featured in

Cosmopolitan. The underlined terms and phrases are particularly noticeable

in respect of their semantics. For example, adjectives such as ‘sparkling’ and

‘exquisite’ are often used to describe items of expensive jewellery. The noun

phrase ‘rare piece’ is another example of a phrase that seems to be out of its

natural context in describing a motor vehicle. The second aspect is the use of

two typical fashion discourse constructions, ‘oh-so-essential’ and ‘the

season’s must-have…’ Once again, these constructions are not traditionally

associated with car advertising. A possible explanation for this terminology is

the product name itself; ‘Fiesta Silver’. It seems as though the advertiser has

emphasised the product name, ‘silver’, by associating it with terminology that

may be used to describe expensive silver jewellery etc. However, an

interesting point to note is that Cosmopolitan magazine allots a large majority

of its space on fashion articles, features and advertisements. In this sense,

the advertisement accommodates the expectations and interests of its

source’s typical audience, through its inclusion of fashion-based terminology.

However, it is questionable as to whether the nature of vocabulary selection

was primarily made in light of audience design. It seems more likely that the

terminology was predominantly chosen in light of the product name. However,

as a result of these language features, the inclusion of this advertisement in

publications such as Cosmopolitan etc is inevitable.

Example 2: ‘If something is throbbing under your bonnet, take a look tonight.’
(The Adult Channel, Redline)

 In this example, ‘The Adult Channel’ advertisement attempts to incorporate

the nature of the publication it is featured in by utilising connotative language.

The   construction,   ‘throbbing   under     your   bonnet’   has   two   possible

interpretations. The noun phrase ‘your bonnet’ could be a sexual connotation

i.e. the reference would be compared to ‘something throbbing in your

trousers’. However, the noun phrase seems to have been selected

specifically to incorporate the theme of cars and their components. Unlike the

‘Fiesta Silver’ advertisement, where the language seemed to coincidentally fit

the environment in which it was placed, ‘The Adult Channel’ advertisement

seems to have selected its terminology primarily and specifically to

incorporate the themes running through Redline magazine. By doing so, the

advertisement appeals to the expectations and interests of the magazine’s

typical audience.

Example 3:   ‘Why follow trends when you can set them?’ (Mazda,

 In this example, the noun ‘trend’, that is traditionally associated with the

subject of fashion, is utilised in an advertisement for a car. Unlike the terms

used in the ‘Fiesta Silver’ advertisement (see example 1, above), there does

not seem to be a link between the fashion associated vocabulary and the

product name. In light of this, it would seem as though this particular

vocabulary selection has been made with the expectations and interests of

the source’s audience very much in mind. The advertisement suggests that

setting ‘trends’ is a desirable image of the envisaged audience. A ‘trendsetter’

is described in the dictionary as ‘a person or a thing that creates, or may

create, a new fashion’(Collins:1990:1069). For example, David Beckham can

be determined as a significant trendsetter in terms of his hairstyling and dress

sense etc. It has already been established that a large percentage of

Cosmopolitan’s page space is dedicated to fashion articles and features

portraying innovative and new styles of dress. In this sense, this choice of

noun establishes some kind of bond between the product and possible

readers’ desires or identities.


  Lexical selections that incorporate topics or themes, other than those

directly related to the product, can be used to accommodate audiences’

preferences or expectations.

  A final example that I would like to examine in this section is taken from the

‘Maximuscle’ advertisement featured in Gardener’s World;

Example 4:

Have you had to give up things you enjoy simply because of painful, aching
joints? You’ve worked hard all your life and put in the hours, only to find that
you’re forced to stop doing things you really want to do….such as gardening,
walking, or DIY, thanks to aching, sore joints and arthritis.
(Maximuscle, Gardener’s World.)

  In this extract, lexical choices are made that result in social stereotyping of

the target audience. Unlike the connotative examples discussed above, this

advertisement seems to explicitly label and categorise its audience through its

language selections. The primary target audience for this product would be

elderly individuals who suffered from aching joints and arthritis. The advertiser

selects terms that represent the companies’ stereotypical view of past-times

enjoyed by this category of person i.e. gardening, walking and DIY. Further to

this, the term ‘gardening’ clearly creates a bond between the advertisement

and the theme of the magazine it is featured within i.e. Gardener’s World. The

second interesting use of language is the phrase ‘you’ve worked hard all your

life’. We can see that this phrase directly addresses the reader through the

use of the personal pronoun ‘you’, and the possessive form ‘your’. The

phrase ‘all your life’ compounds the advertisement’s attempt to cater for an

older generation of audience. It suggests that the reader has perhaps retired

or is coming to the end of their working life.


  By specifying particular attributes of the envisaged audience of the product,

the advertisement fails to accommodate, to a certain extent, other possible

consumers of the product i.e. younger individuals or sporting professionals for


  In the following section, I will examine how visual images play a similar role

in establishing relationships between particular target audience categories

and the product being sold.


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