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Visual Persuasion

Visual Persuasion
The Role of Images in Advertising

December 1996 | 320 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

"Paul Messaris is an extremely thoughtful commentator on the world of visuals. He has studied advertising visuals for many years and his insights are always stimulating and sometimes, even controversial. This book makes an important contribution to the literature in two fields: visual communication and advertising. I recommend it for faculty and students as well as professionals in the advertising field."

--Sandra Moriarty, Professor University of Colorado

"With an informal writing style and examples both thoughtful and illustrative, Paul Messaris in his Visual Persuasion leads the reader through the often complex field of visual literacy related to advertising images with high style and intellect. When so much information is conveyed through quickly edited and carefully controlled mass media images, Visual Persuasion is a vital book toward understanding the impact on individuals, cultures, and society of persuasive visual messages."

--Paul Martin Lester, Ph.D, Author of Visual Communication with Messages

"A smartly reasoned and elegantly written treatment of visual argumentation authored by one of America's most respected authorities on visual communication. "

--James Lull

The pictures in TV commercials, magazine ads, and other forms of advertising often convey meanings that cannot be expressed as well, or at all, through words or music. Visual Persuasion is an exploration of these unique aspects of advertising. By virtue of their ability to simulate the appearance of the physical world, pictures can become surrogate objects of desire or other emotions which ads subsequently associate with products. By exploiting viewers' assumptions of a direct, automatic connection between photography and reality, images can serve as proof of advertising claims. Because of the implicit nature of visual argumentation and the relative lack of social accountability that images enjoy in comparison with words, pictures can be used to make advertising claims that would be unacceptable if they were spelled out verbally. Using these characteristics of visual persuasion as a starting point, this important book analyzes a variety of commercial, political, and social-issue advertisements. A separate chapter examines the role of pictures in cross-cultural advertising. Visual Persuasion is recommended for upper-level undergraduate students and graduate students in communication and media studies. It also contains insights that will be valuable to students in courses in cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, and advertising.

A Theory of Images in Advertising

Pictures and Reality
Visual Form and Style
Can Pictures Bridge Cultures?
Visual Truth, Visual Lies
Editing and Montage
Showing the Unspoken
Ethics of Visual Persuasion


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