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Abstract

The essence of advertising lies very often in unusual and surprising juxtapositions of apparently incongruous elements, which nevertheless successfully combine in producing a coherent and understandable message. A vital role is performed by a skillfully engineered context, which allows for simultaneous activation of certain otherwise inconspicuous senses and the construction of novel and attractive connections. Such theoretical proposals as Lemke’s traversals (2001; 2005), Fauconnier and Turner’s Conceptual Blending Theory (1998; 2002) and Kecskes’s Dynamic Model of Meaning (2008) seem to describe many vital aspects of the phenomenon in question. It is in advertising that we often come across the linking of elements by transgressing naturally existing borders between domains which are unrelated, and we are invited to map onto one another different mental spaces on the basis of their salient analogy or identity, and indulge in creative riddle-like exploration of contextual elements in order to reconstruct the intended message. These techniques’ true power lies in their ability to blur the distinction between ‘the real’ and ‘the imagined’ to such an extent that certain irrational but attractive connections, implanted in the minds of the audience, contribute to subsequent decisions in the real world. The present study attempts to uncover the ways in which certain unrelated elements are skillfully brought together in a context which allows for such a juxtaposition in selected Polish TV advertisements for various medicine and health-related products. The method employed is an in-depth content analysis of the material, followed by an attempt to integrate the identified mechanisms with the models of meaning-making mentioned above. The results will hopefully help in better understanding of the ways in which particular components of the context may interact with the message expressed verbally or pictorially in the construction of multilevel meanings in advertising communication.
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