Visual Representation of Metaphors in Urban Billboards

Document Type : Research Article


1 Associate professor, Department of Graphic Design, Faculty of Art, Alzahra University, Tehran, Iran.

2 M. A. of Graphic Design, Faculty of Art, Alzahra University, Tehran, Iran.


Problem statement: Urban billboards are one of the most effective advertising media and due to the way that visual elements are used in them, they play an important role in attracting the audience. The use of visual metaphors in this advertising medium is very important and its recognition depends on understanding the interaction between visual elements and the way the message is conveyed. Little research has been done on visual metaphors in the field of Iranian advertising, and therefore their performance has been less studied in this field of art.
Research objective: The purpose of this study is to investigate the visual representation of metaphor in terms of structural features in advertising billboards in Tehran. In this regard, a social semiotic approach based on visual mechanisms has been adopted. In addition, metaphorical analysis of interactive meanings is also examined. The main research question is whether the visual metaphors used in advertising billboards can be considered in accordance with certain visual mechanisms.
Research method: The research method used is descriptive-analytical. The purposeful selection of the statistical population includes 35 billboards in Tehran, the main design of which are visual metaphor.
Conclusion: The metaphors used in billboards have played the role of messaging through the interaction of visual elements, which are compatible with the visual mechanisms of the social semiotic approach, and their representation consists of certain structural features. The results of the analysis of the purposeful statistical population consisting of 35 billboards in Tehran, show that all billboards comply with one of the mechanisms. The actional mechanism -which is realized by substituting the conventional element with an unconventional element- has been most used, and on the other hand, the classificational mechanism that have numerous visual elements; has been less used.


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