A Brief History of Rhetoric in Narrative Advertising

A Brief History of Rhetoric in Narrative Advertising

Nilay Tan Çakır (Ondokuz Mayıs University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9790-2.ch014
OnDemand PDF Download:
No Current Special Offers


The term “rhetoric” is derived from the Greek word rhetor. In its original meaning, the term is known to be used for describing an “orator,” a term which refers to a person or a politician giving a speech in a public space or defending himself/herself in the court in Antique Age because in Greek city-states, social sphere was the place where spoken language and face-to-face communication prevailed in antique age conditions. Today, on the other hand, the population to be addressed has enlarged, and new platforms which can influence a number of people at the same time have emerged. Advertising is one of those platforms in which rhetoric is most frequently used because “persuading” the consumer is one of the most significant elements in advertising content. Besides, advertising is a persuasive narrative form and has strong influence in terms of rhetorical figures. In this chapter, a brief history of rhetoric is presented, and then a relationship between rhetoric and advertising narrative is established.
Chapter Preview


Rhetoric, a term which was first uttered by ancient Greek philosophers, is frequently used in advertising today. Originally, it emerged on the basis of effective and persuasive speech. In our age, however, it has gained an increasing influence due to technological, cultural and social opportunities, and it stands out with its visual and digital aspects. According to Uğur Batı, rhetoric has a significant role in linguistic studies to be performed on languages developed functionally and purposively such as advertisements. In advertising communication, the aim of the source is to make a change in attitudes and behaviors in line with a preset objective. Language use in advertisements has a special role for realizing this objective. Rhetorical elements are used in advertising language due to the structure and function of the language (Batı, 2016, pp. 72-73). The strategic use of language is important in order to increase the effectiveness of communication, accomplish a maximum level of persuasion, and attain effective perception, learning and evocation. Rhetorical tools, which are the most crucial means of persuasion, are indispensable for advertising messages (McQuarrie & Mick, 2001 quoted by Batı, 2016, p. 73).

By means of appealing to their customers’ dreams and emotions, brands offer them experiences. In this way, they contribute to their customers’ quest for “a good life.” This is where narrative and advertising coincide (Erdem, 2017, p. 254). Rhetoric, which dates back to ancient times, has been used by advertisers in order to touch consumers’ dreams and sensations. At this point, along with rhetoric, several other concepts contribute to both creating and analyzing advertising contents.

Because of the changes that rhetoric has undergone down the ages and its various depictions, a variety of definitions made for rhetoric have been presented in this study. In antique ages, serving a purpose of persuading the audience on a certain subject, the term referred to the art of oratory used in politics, in the court and in various ceremonies. Nowadays, as well as in verbal language, it is also used in written, visual, and digital media for a powerful communication.

Similar to rhetoric, narrative theory also dates back to ancient Greece. According to Dervişcemaloğlu, the foundations of narrative theory was laid with Aristotle’s Poetics Despite its old history, it was not until the mid 20th century that it could become a research topic of science. In his book The Republic, based on basic modes of expression, Plato classifies literary forms in two groups, which are “mimesis” (imitation/representation) and “diegesis” (narration). He asserted that “mimesis” is the direct narration of dialogues and monologues, which means presenting them directly through imitation. “Diegesis”, on the other hand, involves all statements that can be referred to the author. This basic distinction pioneered the distinction between showing/telling and summary/scene, which was made in the 20th century (Dervişcemaloğlu, 2014, p. 198).

Aristotle’s Poetics put forward a second criterion which is still valid today and necessary for comprehending a narrative. This criterion is the distinction between the totality of events that occur in a depicted world and “mythos”, a term which refers to de facto narrated plot. Aristotle argued that de facto narrated plot presents a cluster of events selected and designed considering the aesthetic concerns and logical requirements. In this way, his functional attitude towards the fictional protagonists in Poetics and their actions is revealed (Liveley, 2019, p. 26; Dervişcemaloğlu, 2014, pp. 15-17).

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: