Mirroring Ghanaian society through slice-of-life radio advertisements

Hmensa, Patience Afrakoma (2013). Mirroring Ghanaian society through slice-of-life radio advertisements. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000d65a


This thesis explores radio advertising in Ghana, focusing on the characteristics of a genre that is often termed 'slice-of-life' and that is popular with advertising producers. Slice-of-life adverts seek to represent a version of real life: specifically, the social reality of the target audience for the advert. I discuss how this represents a challenge to producers given a number of constraints, particularly the very brief duration of the mini-dramas that form the core of slice-of-life adverts and that last for just 1 0-60 seconds. I adopt the notion of 'designed indexicality' as a major analytical concept, arguing that this is a key strategy in designing a persuasive text. Producers, according to this view, deliberately harness culturally-salient indexical resources in the design of adverts, conveying meanings pertaining to the everyday lives of the advertised product's target audience, and that are readily and quickly interpretable by the audience. In analysing slice-of-life radio advertising I draw on an adapted, expanded form of a 'multiperspectived' discourse analysis. This combines an analysis of advertising texts with an analysis of advertising producers' accounts of their practice, observations of the production process and discussion with focus groups who represent the target audience for the adverts, meeting in a context that reflects habitual listening practices. The study therefore goes beyond the 'textualist' approaches that, until recently, have dominated applied linguistic research on advertising. I argue that the study addresses certain gaps in the literature, particularly with respect to the research context (an African country), the research focus (slice-of-life radio advertising) and the expanded multi-perspectived discourse analytical approach. I discuss a number of implications of the study for research on advertising discourse within applied linguistics and related fields, and also argue that the study points to the need for greater dialogue between applied linguists as analysts and advertising practitioners.

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