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A SYSTEMIC FUNCTIONAL ANALYSIS OF SELECTED CIGARETTE ADVERTISEMENTS

BY DR. SOLA T. BABATUNDE DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH UNVIERSITY OF ILORIN ILORIN ABSTRACT Communication is a continuous process of interpersonal negotiation. In the dynamic nature of language use, texts and meanings become both the sources and objects of negotiation. Where a piece of communication which is overtly persuasive in its semiotic function, has apparent contradictory social and linguistic inputs, it is communicatively and pragmatically rewarding to examine the strategies involved in choosing, organizing and presenting the components of the text. This article therefore examines the organization of the cigarette advertisements using the systemic functional approach. The analysis revealed that an effective management of the features of the context of situation, the interpersonal ideational and textual metafunctions and the discourse features of the types of process is responsible for whatever measure of success cigarette advertisements achieve. 1. INTRODUCTION Human existence and development depend to a large extent on language for communication. This presupposes at once, that the end and purpose of language is the enhancement of communicative interaction in human society. Experience has shown that an individual without the means of effective communication in the society does not fully exist in such a society. Communication functions to meet both the material and non-material needs of man (Babatunde, 2002:2) Mac Bride (1980:15) also submits that Man does not live by bread alone; the need for communication is evidence of an inner urge toward a life enriched by cooperation with others. A crucial mode of communication, which also seeks to satisfy the human urge for life in abundance, is advertising. Advertising affords the producer/seller the opportunity to create the awareness of his product (goods and services) to the public. The advertisers message is meant to persuade, educate, inform and entertain the existing or prospective consumers about a company, and its products and services. Advertising is designed, among other things, to induce 1

change of behaviour or attitude through the communication of information. As Backman (1968:5) submits, the success of any advertising strategy depends on how many people might conceivably respond to the advertising and the ease with which such a group can de induced to respond. As such, in advertising, verbal and non-verbal codes are persuasively deployed such that the advert appeals to the target audience (TA). The persuasive goal of advertising and the human effect of tobacco on individuals health makes government to often control matters relating to the sales of the products of tobacco. The obvious contradiction in the different aspects of tobacco its production, sales and consumption exposes the advertising of tobacco products to the prying eyes: while the producers and the marketers work towards ensuring increase in the consumption of tobacco products, religious, health organizations, and other governmental agencies consistently advocate for its total ban. The Tobacco Smoking Control Decree No 2 of 1990 of the Federal Government of Nigeria is a major evidence of the moves against the production and consumption of tobacco. Though the decree was not prohibitive, it made it mandatory for health warning to be incorporated on cigarette packs and on every advertisement package. This study therefore seeks to investigate the strategies used in the advertisement (ad) package of cigarettes with a view to unraveling some of the cigarette marketing strategies, which draws consumers to cigarette products. What communicative strategies are used in the ads? What are the linguistic, paralinguistic and nonverbal codes on the ads, which have enabled the producers to succeed in persuading the consumers? What is the structure of meaning present in a typical cigarette ad? To enable us carry out this investigation effectively, we have opted for the systematic functional model of analysis. We are sampling ads from three internationally recognized companies: St. Moritz, Rothmans, and Benson and Hedges. We have selected three different ads of each of these companies making nine samples in all. 2. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND In this section, we shall briefly discuss the concept of advertising/advertisement and also review the Systemic Functional Approach to language enquiry, as a way of presenting the theoretical basis for our analysis of Cigarette Ads in this study. Advertisement The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines advertising as any paid form of non personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods and services by an identified sponsor.

Crucial issues raised here include the fact that ads are paid for, it is not a personal promotion and there is always an identified sponsor. Kotler (1980:487) talks about the informative and persuasive nature of ads when he says, Advertising is the use of paid media by a seller to communicate persuasive information about its products, services or organization. Ads are said to focus on the creation of product differentiation by advertising the peculiarities of the products. Brand images are thus created in the sensibilities of the audience and these become activated when purchase decisions are to be taken. Product Attributes are thus used as tools to persuade and influence the audience. Every ad carries a message. The success of the message depends on its Execution. Message execution does not depend only on what is said, but also on how it is said. How a message is said is seen as its Execution Style. This study seeks to thus examine the execution style of the selected sample ads in order to reveal the factors responsible for the measure of success cigarette ads achieve. The study also proposes that a typical cigarette ad has an internal structure of meaning. The successful perception of this structure by the TA is the preparatory condition for the success of the ad to the TA. A Systemic Functional Framework Language (both verbal and non verbal) is used for persuasive interactions by advertisers to influence the actions of the target audience. The encoder designs his ads with a demonstrated consciousness of the psychological, social, cultural, economic, political, environmental and linguistic context of the setting where the ad is to be displayed. The ad thus becomes a representation of the encoders perception of the TAs world or dream world. The TAs ideological perception of certain aspects of life, their experiences, or what they will like to experience become what the ad thrusts upon their sensibilities. The advertisers represent the world and experiences in the ads with the aim of sensitizing and mobilizing the TA into a particular line of action through the meaning thus encoded. As such, the interacting forces of the contextual constituents on both the encoder and decoders influence the designing of the ads and the consequent purchasing decision. The meaning so conveyed is not only based on the linguistic representation of the ad, but on some other aspects of the shared knowledge between encoders and targeted decoders exploited in the ads. The advertisers deploy language (both verbal and non verbal) as a system and as a functional tool. In other words, encoders appraise the value of (linguistic) symbols not only in their content, but also in all the nuances of meaning they possess (Babatunde, 2000:147). The consciousness of the TA is stirred up and aroused to a positive action through this meaning.

In any form of communication, the meaning conveyed, at the levels of linguistic and non linguistic representation, depends on the systematic process of effective interaction among interlocutors. There is a system of network in any piece of communication. This system of network is deployed to perform certain semantic functions. The sum total of what is coded becomes the basis for the negotiation of meaning between the interlocutors. As the encoder transmits the different modes of meaning construed by the grammar, the decoder is guided to recognize the encoders intention in transmitting his message. The decoder is guided through the choices made by the encoder to structure the meaning of his message. For ease of clarification and analysis, meaning conveyance is often seen as a structured process. This involves the encoders proper deployment of the microforms as building strategies of the overall meaning structure conveyed. Microforms should be skillfully cemented to create an attractive and an imposing structure in the consciousness of the decoder such that the micro structures are recognized. This study proposes a four- step structure of analysis for consumer ads, precisely here, cigarette ads. The first step, named Context, involves base features of context, such as the socio-cultural, psychological, economic, political, environmental and linguistic. This is the sum total of the background knowledge which informs the coding of a message, and it is the same that the decoder ultimately exploits to make necessary predictions about the meanings intended by the encoder (Melrose, 1995:47) In a similar discussion, Babatunde (2000:147) observes that the socio-cultural awareness, the degree to which he [a writer] is rooted in his environment is largely manifested in the way these relevant linguistic and contextual features flow wittingly or otherwise into the writing. This forms one part of what Halliday (1978) calls Situation: Perhaps, the second part of what Halliday refers to as Situation is approximately referred to in our model as Input. It is at this level that all the contextual variables earlier identified have become ground and mixed together to give rise to the first signs of the Ideological side of language use (Melrose, 1985:40 43). At this level, features of situation types as determinants of choices to be made for effective encoding and decoding of meaning begin to come to the fore. Decisions relating to encoders intention; audience and channel(s) are taken at this stage. Such decisions are determined by the competence of the encoder to understand the constellation of meanings deriving from the semiotic system in the setting of interaction. On the other hand, the ability of the decoder to size up the features at this level facilitates his tuning in to the exchange. The features constraining the choice of field, tenor and mode are in operation here.

The third is the Process stage. The macro-features of the previous steps have now become micro-features, which are building blocks for the perceptible textual structure of the message. Here we see the clear realization of the semiotic meaning potential of the message. Discussive formation, interaction sequence and the exploration of Schemas (Melrose, 1995:49) are the apparent features of this step. Also choices as to the appropriate process type in this kind of communication are also made. Matthiessen and Halliday (1997) identify four steps: material, mental, verbal and relational (p. 13) The fourth step is the Product itself. This is the physical manifestation of Text and its actual reception by the decoder. The TA interacts with the Text to derive the intended benefits packaged for him by the encoder/advertiser. Also part of this stage is the outcome of the interaction. Pragmatics refers to this outcome as the perlocutionary effect(s) of the message. It is crucial to note that the code packaged and delivered by the advertiser also includes paralinguistic and nonverbal ones. At this stage of the actual interaction of TA with text, what TA does is to perceive the configurations of the process types deliberately arranged to make the message appeal to him. We present the framework in Figure 1. 1 CONTEXT *Sociocultural *Psychological *Economic *Political *Environmental *Linguistic INPUT *Ideology (Ideological Formations) *Audience *Intention *Genre Choices *Channel & Symbolic Function(s) (Constraints in Choices) 2 ENCODING PROCESS 3 PROCESS *Discursive formations *Interaction sequence *Exploitation of schemes (The interplay of systems & Metafunctions) 4 PRODUCTS *Interaction with TEXT. *Slices of Life *Arousal & Performance *Affect displays

DECODING PROCESS Figure 1: A Four-step structure of Analysis for Consumer Ads. (Babatunde, 2006) 3. ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION This paper submits that meaning is conveyed when the TA recognizes the meaning structure and as such, forms used as building blocks must be part of the 5

worldview of the TA (i.e. TAs cultural conception) as well as being simple enough for interpretation and understanding. Therefore, conventional semantic devices, simple written, unwritten and nonverbal aspects of meaning should be used in advertising for ease of interpretation and understanding. The data for this study are classified into three groups, namely (a) Rothmans King-size Cigarette Advertisements (RKA) (b) Benson and Hedges King-size Cigarette Advertisements (BHA) (c) St. Moritz Menthol Cigarette Advertisements (SMA) This classification also informs the structure of this analysis, as each group shall be discussed/analysed one after the other using the framework presented in the previous section of this essay as the tool for analysis. To avoid unnecessary repetition, we shall use Rothmans ads as our sample analysis 3.1 Meaning Structure of Rothmans King-Size Ads (a) Description: The settings of the selected Rothmans King-size Ads (henceforth called RKA) are conceptualized as follows: (i) The sport concept (ii) The office concept (iii) The musical concept The three ads open with the general introduction TASTE SUCCESS, in upper case lettering; and they all also conclude with THE BEST TOBACCO MONEY CAN BUY. Apart from the picture of the pack of Rothmans cigarette, with its the label, this information and the conclusion, so to speak are all the verbal codes in the three ads. The first datum, which has the sport concept, has six sports men in it, five of them are at the background in various jubilant postures, while the fifth who is the only one in suit (perhaps the manager, or so) is foregrounded holding the trophy won by the team. Also at the background is a cheering crowd in the stadium setting. The second datum has the office concept. There are also six people here, one lady and five men. Five of them seem to be clamoring to congratulate the one who is at the foreground, who seems to have won a deal (or so) for the company. Datum three of RKA has a musical concept setting. There are five musicians in the ad in a jubilant mood perhaps after a very successful musical concert. Each, except the only lady in the picture, is holding a musical instrument. Again, they all seem to make the foregrounded member of the group the rallying point of their jubilation. (b) Structural Analysis The RKAs present a beautiful mixture of the verbal and non-verbal codes. Due to the sparing use of the verbal, the non-verbal seems to predominate.

The RKAs exploit the psychological, socio-cultural, environmental, economic and linguistic features of the TAs context. The manifestation of this will be clearer as we examine the perceptible Input features of the ads. With respect to the Input features, there is a pervasive and infectious situation of success. The dream world of an average person is inhabited by marked indices of success. The pursuit of success can be executed with great determination. The intention of the encoder apparently is to appeal to the TAs sensibilities. The symbolic function of the channel is being carefully woven at this stage and the success achieved becomes more apparent in the subsequent stages of our analysis. In the Process stage, the factors considered in the Context and Input stages have now acted as constraints for the choice of field, tenor and mode. Appropriate Schemas (Brown & Yule, 1983:349) in the TAs information memory are exploited so that the recognized social situation of sport, office and musical concepts can enable him (TA) to understand the subject matter of discourse. The Product stage presents the Text to the TA. Each of the three ads in this group has two sentences. The first is an elliptical imperative Taste Success, while the second is also an elliptical declarative The best tobacco money can buy. We shall now briefly illustrate the network of metafunction in the verbal codes. The two clauses do not easily yield to the conventional textual identification of the theme/rheme dichotomy. Clause (a) taste success, does not have a clear referent and indeed the grammatical subject that can be easily recaptured as You, (i.e. You (should) taste success). This polite remark is so marked that taste can easily be interpreted as the theme, while success the direct object becomes the rheme. The ideational metafunction of Transitivity has only the overt choice of Process (taste) and the sufferer of the action (success). The second clause has no overt finite verb, the best tobacco money can buy is a descriptive expression of the object of display, Rothmans Cigarette (that is in This is the best tobacco money can buy). The modal responsibility on the part of the TA audience is to comply with the polite imperative in Taste Success. The primary options in process type can equally be identified as they are used to rouse the interest of the TA in the product. This is however very complex because of the sparing use of words and the abundant deployment of visual/pictorial symbols. The Material Process is a combination of doing and happening. Taste Success commands the action of taste, while the TA sees a celebration of success going on /happening by three different groups of people. The Mental Process is overtly marked by the joint appeal to the sense of taste and of sight (see the jubilant groups). The covertly marked senser is the TA who has been directed to partake of the experience he is watching. It can be infectious!

The TA is guided into recovering the Verbal Process in the expression The advertiser says I should taste success. The verbiage is taste success. In the Relational aspect, taste is the process, while success is the Attribute. The Carrier is the covert Referent, the TA. This analysis reveals the Verbal Projection of Taste Success which becomes the Theme of each of the three ads in this group. The rhetorical body of the message (both literally and metaphorically) is the pictorial slices of life in the three concepts of sports, office and the musical. The pictorial Projection is the main text of this group of ads. The Execution style invites the TA to join the jubilant groups in having a taste of success. The models, either on their feet or in the sitting position give an alluring appearance. There is a general atmosphere of ecstasy, which becomes heightened by their radiant facial expression. From the display of the trophy won, to the warm handshake, and the golden musical instruments, we see a vivid Display and Projection of Success. The alluring display of the open pack of Rothmans can also not be mistaken. The ads all end with the epithet: The best tobacco money can buy. The arrangement of the epithet and the Rothmans pack shows that the expression makes an endophoric reference to the object on display. This conclusion evaluates Rothmans in terms of quality and value of money used in buying it. It is a declarative, which has been authoritatively deployed to appeal to the TAs sense of reasoning to evaluate Rothmans. The superlative adjective, best is also chosen for effect. The expected effect of this on the TA can be any or a combination of some of the following: Product Acceptance, Product Preference, Product Purchase, Product Switching or Product Loyalty. Well, we can also not rule out the possibility of indifference or outright rejection. This will however be because of other factors outside of the ads. Clearly, the Rothmans ads analyzed have presented such an imposing semantic structure that the background of societal rejection and anti-smoking campaign has been thoroughly dwarfed. We shall elaborate more on this in the discussion section. 3.2 Discussion In this section, we shall undertake a general discussion of the structural features of the analyzed three groups of cigarette advertisements, so as to reveal the system of choices made and the functions to which the choices have been put. The pervasive Message Execution Style of the three groups of ads selected is the staging of different slices of life. Rothmans depicts success, Benson and Hedges (B&H) portrays an overwhelming sense of aloneness and freedom, while St. Moritz (SM) gives an air of elegance and relaxation. The shared knowledge of

the natural desire for pleasure, joy, satisfaction and fulfillment is greatly evoked in the ads. The portrayed perfect state of satisfaction is presented in form of the ideal which is attainable; whereas in the real sense of it, this utopia is fantasy, or at best fictional. However, the objects and models in the pictures are the things the TA feels he could identify with. There is therefore a pervasive Mood of a slice of life which is very attainable, and the cigarettes being offered are capable of putting this ideal on the TAs lap effortlessly. All the TA has to do is choose SUCCESS, FREEDOM or ELEGANCE (and Relaxation) as the case may be. That is, choose either or all of the products in the ads. With this Execution Style, it is interesting to therefore examine the role language has been deployed to play in the cigarette ads. Language is sparingly used. Apart from the trade names of the products being advertised, what follows is the extent of verbal codes on the ads: A. Rothmans 1. TASTE SUCCESS 2. THE BEST TOBACCO MONEY CAN BUY B. Benson and Hedges 3. BODY & SOUL 4. UP & AWAY 5. FREE AND EASY 6. BE GOLD, BENSON &HEDGES C. St. Moritz. 7. THE COOL, SMOOTH CHOICE Such a sparing use of verbal codes has the significance of making the TA to become very reflective in order to unravel the sense(s) of the largely ambiguous expressions. The TA is to fill up the gap. What is however missing in words has been supplied by nonverbal codes. Before we discuss the features of the nonverbal means of communication, it is important to submit that the sparing use of verbal codes is connected with the negative campaigns against smoking. Since the claim of the health institutions on the dangers of cigarette to smokers is based on facts, many words may get the advertisers into legal problems and thus attract serious sanctions against the products. The advertisers thus talk less, while they leave the TA to see the makebelieve pictures themselves and be positively disposed to the products. Marlow (1954; Quoted from Hargie , 1986:27) has a hierarchy of human needs (See figure 2 below)

Aesthetic needs Self-actualization needs Esteem needs (Self respect and esteem of others) 9 Safety Belongingness and(Water,from(love,dependency) Physiological needs love needs fear, affection ) needs (Security, freedom food, heat, etc)

Figure 2: Marlows Hierarchy of Human Needs Marlows submission is that the individual has needs and the meeting of these needs is the goal being pursued in life. In other words, goals being pursued are directly influenced by the degree of motivation, which they have for each goal. This is in turn influenced by their needs. The advertisers have exploited this natural human tendency by placing their message within identifiable and meaningful social and psychological contexts. There is a sense in which each ad makes an implicit claim to being able to satisfy each of these needs, depending on which one is uppermost in the mind of the TA. Let us briefly illustrate this using the St. Moritz ads (SMA) NEEDS Physiological Safety Needs SIGNAL Cigarette is consumable Since people still take tobacco not all smokers die (or most dont die) Belongings and The exquisite homely setting is meant for many, at least Love needs family members. (In reality, cigarettes are shared among smokers). Esteem Needs Any occupant of the setting has affluence and as such respectable Self-actualization Living in the setting portrayed is a mark of self-actualization and fulfillment. Aesthetic The exquisite beauty of the setting is alluring. It is a perfect mixture of gold, diamond and life (green). Figure 3: Analysis of St. Moritzs Ads claim on Needs What the advertisers attempt to do is to manipulate the TA with the promises (overt and implicit) that their needs (whatever it may be) will be met. The sparing

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use of words and the display of non-verbal codes is to achieve a medium degree of arousal so as to have optimum level of performance in the TA. Apart from the possible claim to being able to satisfy all needs, each ad group also appears to have a concentrated focus on a selection of the needs. This is presented in Figure 4. ADVERT/PRODUCT ROTHMANS BENSON HEDGES ST.MORITZ NEEDS IN FOCUS Physiological, Belongingness, Self-actualization and Aesthetic & Physiological, Safety and Self-actualization. Physiological, Aesthetic Esteem, Self-actualization and

Figure 4: A Table of Needs focused in Cigarette Product Ads. An effective semiotic device used by the marketers in the ads is to handle the marketing of the cigarette as a second order field of discourse. Most consumer ads start by making the advertised products the theme of the message, while the rheme is the benefits derivable from patronizing such a product. The cigarette ads selected have used a predominantly symbolic means of staging their product. Any of the nine samples gives the impression that other subject matters on life and living are being discussed; e.g. Success (Rothmans), Freedom (Benson & Hedges) and Elegance (St. Moritz). When the attention of the TA has been drawn to these subject matters, the main goal of the ad (that is the products) is then subtly introduced. This is perhaps an effective way of distracting attention from the negative publicity on tobacco products. It is a deceptive ploy. Each of the ads is analysed to have a semantic cum rhetorical structure. They all have introduction, body and conclusion, as demonstrated in the sample analysis. Secondly, the framework used for the sample analysis has four steps which can work for both the encoding and the decoding of the message. The encoder, for instance, begins from step one to utilize the contextual variables as foundation for the presentation of his message. He then works through the steps until the Text is made available to the TA in step four. The decoder (or TA) on the other hand, begins from the Text to discover its meaning. The extent to which he is able to identify with the message ( in terms of perception or recognition) is determined by his depth of recognizing what the encoder has exploited of the mutually shared contextual background. So the TA works from step four backward. CONCLUSION This study has demonstrated that persuasive communication can thrive even in the environment of dissuasive forces. In a situation where dissuasive facts tend to discourage would-be consumers, a marketer/advertiser can rely on a range of semiotic features that will appeal to the eyes and hearts of the TA, if not their heads. Arousal and Performance (Hagie, 1986: 28-29) are motivational tools

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capable of bailing the cigarette marketer out in the co-existence of the contradictory web of the persuasive and the dissuasive in the same ad. The sparing use of the verbal codes enables the ads to engage more in symbolic communication rather than the literal one. The dissuasive information, which is exclusively verbal, uses the word smokers. This word, or its symbol was not used at all in the ads. No one is seen holding a stick of cigarette and the TA is not enjoined to smoke. Rather other forms of action are referred to in the ads; e.g. taste (of success), being gold and making a cool, smooth choice. The models in the different groups of ads are either seen taking those prescribed actions, or are (efficiently) imagined to be doing so. There is a pervasive atmosphere of the alluring. Colours are perfectly mixed and actions are coordinated and goal-driven. The semantic structure is perfectly rhetorical in its persuasive qualities and the TAs imagination is made to run really wild for the attainment of the pleasurable. However, we shall end with Tonys counsel in She Stoops to Conquer (Goldsmith, 1961: ) All that glitters is not gold Pleasure seems sweet But proves a gloss of bitters. In spite of the glitters of the ads, the facts regarding the effects of the products could not be refuted directly by the ads. In all, cigarette ads seem to have the measure of success they have because of the effective handling of the system of choices available in the communication of intended meaning.

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Melrose, Robin (1995). Communicative Syllabus: A Systemic- Functional Approach to Language Teaching. London: Printer Morris, J.S. (1980) Advertising .Virginia: Reston Publishing Company Inc (1992) Guidelines on the Advertising of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco Products. Lagos: APCON. (1994) Issues on Advertising of controlled Product. Lagos: APCON.

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