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Rethinking Advertisements in Cross-Genre Media

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Organizer: Ikuho Amano

Co-Organizer: Yoshihiro Yasuhara

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This seminar explores socio-cultural effects, semantics, and aesthetic components of advertisements in print media, TV or radio commercials, internet affiliate ads, and those in other platforms. In studies of comparative literature, advertising has been a genre alienated from academic debates, belonging primarily to the fields of marketing, business, and communication studies alike. However, advertisements are composites of texts, narrative, visual, and/or audible elements that are highly pertinent to scrutiny by comparatists.

Publicized through various media, advertisements no longer function to be a one-sided communication device that simply stimulates consumers’ needs and wants of certain commodities, be it tangible objects or intangible services. The workings of advertisements among recipients are increasingly diverse today. A major advertising theory of “AIDMA” by Roland Hall in the 1920 advocated the five stages of consumer experience, which constitutes “attention,” “interest,” “desire,” “memory,” and finally “action” of purchasing. In the 2010s, Japan’s largest advertising agency Dentsū proposed a modified model of “AISAS,” which develops consumer cognition and action through “attention,” “interest,” “search,” “action,” and “share.” In the “AISAS” model, these steps can be repeated, and a process can be skipped or reversed. While Hall’s classic theory still holds an invariant validity to some extent, this latter model seems better reflecting a pervading reality of internet e-commerce and online advertisements.

As part of marketing strategy, in the past few decades, advertising has continuously more featured narrative elements, shifting a focus on product information to affective potentials or other extra-material merits held by a product. Regarding the phenomena, critic Amano Yūkichi attempted to theorize advertisements in 1980s Japan with his new reading of such western ideas like Marshall McLuhan’s proposition that advertising embodies “complex gestalt of data gathered almost at random”(1964). In so doing, he states in his recent book How to Read Advertisements, How to Interpret Things (2022) that the objective of advertisements today is no longer only selling merchandises but generating social dialogues. Here potentially lies various kinds of intersection of poiesis and semiosis, or creative acts that conceive meanings to capture/reify ever-changing realities since the mid-20th century, inviting cross-genre discussions about the intersection, such as poetry/music/visual arts and advertisements.

Given these realities of today’s advertising practice, this seminar invites papers that engage in studies of the medium from cultural, historical, or social vantagepoints. We welcome papers on advertising for any industries, products, services, or public campaign etc.

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