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Taboo in Advertising

Taboos are much more than just a synonym of forbidden'. Proof of the concept's complexity can be found in the way ads often try to hide the taboo inherent to their products or, conversely, in the way certain taboo readings are foregrounded on purpose in other ads. This volume shows why and how that happens, using print and television ads to exemplify (a) the elaborate strategies used by ads for certain products to cleverly hide the taboo inherent to them, and (b) the deliberate recourse to taboo references in ads for products that do not present any taboo connotation. The linguistic analysis undertaken takes into account the different modes (verbal language, music, sound effects, moving and static images) that convey meaning in ads. Taboo is very often conveyed or disguised through one of the channels while the others play the opposite role, thus achieving a balance that prevents the ad from being too obscure to be understood or too daring for the general public to accept it. For this comprehensive approach, concepts are drawn from different disciplines: textual and semiotic analysis from linguistics, theories of taboo from anthropology, and background to advertising from media studies.

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