making sense of advertising. Based on the assumption of the «autonomy of the sign»
,advertising messages have been analyzed extensively by drawing on their dimension ascultural signs and by implication by drawing on brands as cultural (eg. McCracken 1986,Williamson 1978, Stern 1996;1998), rather than commercial products. Despite theunquestionable validity of such readings from within cultural theory, media theory andsemiotic perspectives, and the plethora of resourceful insights that have been generated inthe process, interest on behalf of marketing researchers in operationalizing semiotic conceptsin addressing various marketing phenomena has been limited, with the exception of Hirschman and Holbrook¶s
The Semiotics of Consumption
, Jean Umiker Sebeok¶s editing of the collective work
(a collection of papers on various applied semioticapproaches to marketing, such as consumer behavior, advertising, corporate image, newproduct development), Mick¶s and McQuarrie¶s extensive publications on semiotic approachesto decoding and processing advertising messages, J.M.Floch¶s
Sémiotique, Marketing et Communication.
At the same time, applied semiotics agencies have been flourishing over thepast twenty years, providing insights to marketing practitioners and generating interpretivemodels by drawing on semiotic concepts. Yet, no uniform branding theory has appeared sofar with the inter-textual import of a robust conceptual framework drawing on particular semiotic theories. Despite the operationalization of semiotic concepts in discreet areas of marketing theory and practice, such as Floch¶s (1990) application of Greimas¶ semioticsquare in positioning studies, Kawama¶s (1987) application of Peirce¶s topline tripartiteconceptualization of the sign as index, symbol, icon into the process of product design andcoining of a µColor Planning System¶, Kehret-Ward¶s (1987) application of the Saussureanconcept of the syntagm in what he calls «syntagmatic marketing research» aiming to unearthlatent syntactical similarities in the way products are used and in their promotion/advertising,while pointing to its operational value in the field of new product design, cross-promotions andshelf strategy in retail outlets, McQuarrie¶s (1989) interpretation of how ads resonatemeaning through the employment of figurative speech that transforms the relationshipbetween signifiers and signifieds in instances of verbal and visual signs, by drawing on
As Ransdell (1992:) stresses by allusion to the Peircean notions of sign and interpretant «It is implicit in regardingsemiosis as the production of the interpretant by the sign itself that signs are not regarded as being governed byrules in the sense of "falling under" them.
he idea is rather that the disposition or power of the sign to generate aninterpretant is the rule, which thus does not stand over and above the sign, as it were, but is rather an immanentprinciple therein.
his is the basis for characterizing semiosis processes as autonomous or self-governing».