- Signs for Sale: An Outline of Semiotic Analysis for Advertisers and Marketers by R. Beasley, M. Danesi, P. Perron, and: Semiotics and Information Sciences ed. by P. Perron, M. Danesi, J. Umiker-Sebeok, A. Watanabe (review)
- University of Toronto Quarterly
- University of Toronto Press
- Volume 73, Number 1, Winter 2003/04
- pp. 146-149
- View Citation
- Additional Information
146 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 Lambek refers to Clifford Geertz=s 1966 complaint that the anthropology of religion of that time was not theoretically adventurous. He then suggests that that is no longer true, for some anthropologists >have discovered= existentialism, continental phenomenology, Lacanian psychoanalysis, and much else, and he provides references to essays in his anthology that incorporate some of those discoveries. He also remarks that >Yet other anthropologists have been increasingly attracted to the insights of cognitive psychology in the ambitious attempt to build a universal (objectivist) theory of human knowledge that would incorporate religious ideation,= but he supplies no immediate references, having awarded no space in his anthology to major examples of that approach. The anthropologists to whom he refers in passing, it should be noted, are attracted to more than the insights of cognitive psychology. In addition to sometimes actively collaborating with psychologists in the design and execution of experiments to test hypotheses, those anthropologists draw on the cognitive sciences in general, along with evolutionary biology, the neural sciences, and developmental and evolutionary psychology. For the most part, moreover, they have a keen sense of their obligations as scholars to transcend the armchair and furnish evidence for their theories. I deem the approach to religion that Lambek slights B an approach found in the work of anthropologists such as Scott Atran, Pascal Boyer, Stewart Guthrie, Dan Sperber, and Harvey Whitehouse B to be truly and cumulatively exciting. It seeks to answer questions such as these: Why do we have religion? What is the evolutionary background? Why do we have the sorts of religion that we do and not other imaginable kinds? How are religions organized? How are they transmitted? And why are there family resemblances among the religions of the world? I judge those questions to be of great importance. And I regard some of the answers proffered to them to constitute giant steps in the right direction. Lambek apparently does not share my enthusiasm. I hope that some day he will tell us why. (BENSON SALER) R. Beasley, M. Danesi, and P. Perron. Signs for Sale: An Outline of Semiotic Analysis for Advertisers and Marketers Legas 2000. 102. $14.95 P. Perron, M. Danesi, J. Umiker-Sebeok, and A. Watanabe, editors. Semiotics and Information Sciences Legas 2000. 188. $25.00 Signs for Sale and Semiotics and Information Sciences are opposed, Janus-like, by their format (the first being a class textbook and the second a collection of conference research articles) and by their target audiences (non-technical readers versus fairly technical readers, such as academics and software humanities 147 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 engineers). Yet they are coupled, not only by the common authors/editors and publishing house, but by their focus on how semiotic theory can be brought to bear on practical endeavours that have considerable economic stakes. Signs for Sale is a >user-friendly introduction to the semiotic study of advertising.= The first chapter is a brief presentation of semiotics and the history of advertising, plus a statement of three caveats to their approach. The authors point out in one of these that >it is certainly not the point of a semiotic analysis to determine ... the degree to which [an advertisement] will induce consumers to buy the manufacture=s product.= Actually, they do suggest principles of effective advertising (such as the >Principle of Textuality,= which states that the appeal of an advertisement is proportional to the number of connotative chains it has), but they are reluctant to include sales as any measure of effectiveness. Marketing is >more about selling signs than selling products,=, so product sales are of little importance. Advertisers will be delighted with that simplification; their customers perhaps less so. The other three chapters deal specifically with product image (logos, brand names and jingles), the notion of textuality in advertising, and semiotically based marketing research. Textuality and product image are largely inseparable. After getting the buyer=s attention, the next move in the advertising gambit is to create a textual world in the buyer=s mind where the product is both recognizable and positively...