The use of metaphors is pervasive throughout the English language. This figure of speech draws a comparison between two separate ideas or things that ironically share an underlying meaning. The use of metaphors in advertising is a common way for marketers to communicate a point to a demographic. Advertisers frequently use metaphors with words or visually with pictures.
In the business of advertising, it is important to be accurate with any statements so that a message is not misconstrued. Otherwise, marketers could be liable for false advertising. As a result, when there are metaphors in advertising, the marketers often tread creatively around the truth. One way to do this is to use phrases with nouns only instead of full sentences when incorporating metaphors into a message.
Metaphors in advertising are greatest when the term is original and has not been used elsewhere. Visual metaphors in advertising can be most effective when they are part of a global marketing campaign. The use of metaphors in advertising is likely to evoke some type of emotion out of an audience and make the message memorable, which is the outcome in a successful ad campaign. Ideally, a visual metaphor will capture the attention of a demographic and will lead to product sales or generate revenue in some other way.
A risk in using any type of metaphor in advertising, whether in a headline, body of a message, or as a picture, is that the point may be misunderstood by the audience. Picture metaphors tend to be the most obvious, and in print, the more precise a metaphor is, the more likely that the desired audience will interpret the message clearly. Success of a print metaphor in advertising can be whether or not a control group understands the true meaning of the language used.
Creating a metaphor that properly identifies a company brand, product, or individual is a process. The advertiser is often taking a chance that an audience will correctly interpret a comparison or label that is being placed on the subject. One way to begin the creative process is to start by writing a simile. A simile is a comparison that incorporates the word "like" into it so that the similarity is clear. Subsequent to determining what a subject is in fact "like," the advertiser can go on to create an illustration or a phrase that is a metaphor and takes the message to an even higher level.