Friday, June 20, 2014

Lady Gaga as (dis)simulacrum of Deleuzian monstrosity (forthcoming)

Lady Gaga’s celebrity DNA revolves around the notion of monstrosity, an extensively and multifariously researched concept in post-modern cultural studies. This study draws on biographical and archival visual data relating to the Gaga phenomenon with a focus on the relatively underexplored live-show, with view to elucidating what is really monstrous about Lady Gaga. The argumentation that is put forward by drawing largely on Deleuze & Guattari’s notion of monstrosity, as well as on their approach to the study of sign-systems that was deployed in Thousand Plateaus, is supportive of the position that monstrosity as sign seeks to appropriate the horizon of unlimited semiosis as radical alterity and openness to signifying possibilities. In this context it is argued that Gaga is a simulacrum of herself (supreme signifier) and at the same time a (dis)simulacrum or dissimulative (feigned) simulacrum. Gaga is monstrous for her community insofar as she demands of her fans to project their semiosic horizon onto her as simulacrum of infinite semiosis, albeit a simulacrum that, in (the) reality (principle), may only be evinced dissimulatively in a feigned manner as (dis)simulacrum. Pursuant to an extensive analysis of the linguistically unarticulated, yet multimodally considerably more insightful imagery from seminal live shows during 2011-2012, Gaga’s presumed monstrosity is ultimately rendered as more akin to hyperdifferentiation. 

Keywords: monstrosity, sign systems, flows of intensity, territorialization, Lady Gaga

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Monday, June 9, 2014

Conducting multimodal rhetorical analysis of TV ads with Atlas.ti 7, Multimodal Communication 3(1), pp. 51-84.

This paper lays out the steps involved in the process of analyzing the rhetorical structure of TV ads with the employment of the content analytic software Atlas.ti 7. By drawing on a corpus of 87 TV commercials from brands that make up the world’s most valuable brands according to WPP’s BrandZ 2012 report and a resulting pool of 561 ad filmic segments, it will be shown (i) how TV ads may be segmented, (ii) how individual segments may be coded with one or more verbo-visual rhetorical figures in the light of three distinctive levels of analysis (on an intra-segment level, between two succeeding segments, against the background of an ad film’s “global semantic structure”) and (iii) how statistical output pertaining to the rhetorical structure of TV ads may be produced. This technically oriented analysis, which is part of ongoing research in the field of multimodal advertising rhetoric (cf. Rossolatos 2013a, 2013b, 2013c), is intended to contribute to scholarly research about the benefits that stem from combining an interpretive approach to the analysis of ads’ rhetorical configuration that is edified on film semiotics, with a quantitative approach, enabled by the employment of the content analytic software Atlas.ti 7.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Is the semiosphere post-modernist?

This paper provides arguments for and against M.Lotman’s (2002) contention that Y.Lotman’s seminal concept of semiosphere is of post-modernist (post-structuralist; Posner 2011) orientation. A comparative reading of the definitional components of the semiosphere, their hierarchical relationship and their interactions is undertaken against the two principal axes of space and subjectivity in the light of Kantian transcendental idealism, as inaugural and authoritative figure of modernity, the Foucauldian discursive turn and the Deleuzian (post) radical empiricism (sic), as representative authors of the highly versatile post-modern vernacular. This comparative reading aims at highlighting not only similarities and differences between the Lotmanian conceptualization of the semiosphere and the concerned modernist and post-modernist authors, but the construct’s operational relevance in a post-metanarratives cultural predicament that has been coupled with the so-called spatial turn in cultural studies (Hess-Luttich 2012).   

Keywords: semiosphere, space, cultural subjectivity, modernity, post-modernity.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2-days seminar on Brand Semiotics
Tartu University
May 13-14 2014

                    George Rossolatos in front of Lotman's avant-garde statue outside of Tartu University's library. 
Primary target-group: Semiotics students from all levels (BA, MA, PhD) and faculty whose primary field of research is not marketing semiotics.
Secondary target-group: Academic researchers in the field of branding (in the wider marketing discipline) who are interested in learning about semiotic approaches to branding and brand equity.
Tertiary target group: Branding practitioners.

Seminar objectives
The primary aim of the seminar on Brand Semiotics is to acquaint academic researchers in the wider semiotic discipline with existing conceptual models and research methods in brand semiotics and in branding research with an intent on demonstrating how semiotic constructs may be fruitfully applied in building strong brands. The seminar is of inter-disciplinary orientation, spanning both semiotics and marketing disciplines, while highlighting how semiotics may provide answers to aspects of the research agenda in branding from a marketing point of view. Furthermore, the seminar aims at stimulating discussion about how semiotics has been applied thus far in branding research, but also about the research opportunities that lie ahead.

Topics that will be covered in the seminar:
-          Where semiotics actually fits in a strategic brand planning process?
-          What does ‘strong brand’ mean and how semiotic constructs may provide a robust platform for building strong brands and managing them over time?
-          Overview of branding models (from a marketing point of view)
-          Overview of brand semiotic models
-          Overview of methods for researching and building brands
-          Overview of dominant and emerging academic perspectives on branding and brand equity
-    Step-by-step exposition of a bespoke methodological framework for exploring and building brand equity from a brand textuality point of view    

About the presenter:
George Rossolatos is an academic researcher and marketing practitioner, with experience in advertising (JWT), marketing research (Research International/Millward Brown) and brand management (Colgate-Palmolive, Nestle, Weetabix, Cosmote). He holds a BA (Hons) in Philosophy from the University of Essex, an MSc in Marketing from Manchester Business School and an MBA from Strathclyde Business School and a PhD in Marketing Semiotics from the University of Kassel. He is also the editor of the International Journal of Marketing Semiotics ). Major publications include Interactive Advertising: Dynamic Communication in the Information Era (2002), Brand Equity Planning with Structuralist Rhetorical Semiotics (2012, 2014), Applying Structuralist Semiotics to Brand Image Research (2012),  //rhetor.dixit//: Understanding ad texts’ rhetorical structure for differential figurative advantage (2013), plus numerous articles in trade and academic journals. His research interests rest with effecting inter-disciplinary cross-fertilizations between marketing, rhetoric and semiotics, also informed by disciplines such as phenomenology, deconstruction, psychoanalysis, anthropology, communication theory, cultural studies.


Signed copy of Semiotics of Passions by Greimas

Signed copy of Theory of Literature by Tzvetan Todorov

Friday, May 9, 2014

On the pathology of the enthymeme: Accounting for hidden visual premises in advertising discourse , Signs and Society, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Spring 2014)

One of the key reasons that have been put forward for justifying the superior argumentative force of visuals over verbal arguments in advertising discourse is their immediacy. The immediate resonance of visuals and their forceful appeal bears considerable resemblance to the argumentative force of enthymemes as hidden premises in informal rhetorical argumentation. In this paper an attempt is made at bridging the logical and pathemic appeals of enthymemes under the aegis of what may be called the pathology of the enthymeme, while demonstrating that what has been pejoratively tagged since Freudian psychoanalytic discourse as ‘the psychopathology of everyday life’ in fact constitutes the very underpinning of enthymematic structures and a system of topoi of which such structures constitute an integral part. By assuming as the point of departure of this genealogicopathological tracing Heidegger’s opening up of the meaning of logos and as destination Heidegger’s ontological reading of everydayness, the enthymematic embeddedness of cultural topoi is de-pathologized, while being reinserted in its ‘proper’ pathological dimension.  The exemplification of how visual enthymemes function and may be translated as hidden premises in advertising discourse seeks to demonstrate the pathology of the enthymeme as ‘unquestionable’ major premises that underpin visual arguments.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Semes have no time: On the triple temporal structure of brand textuality

This paper addresses the issue of how a brand text develops over time through a dynamic interplay between identity and difference. By drawing on a structuralist semiotic paradigm, it will be shown that a brand’s essence is shaped on three distinctive temporal horizons: (i) an achronic semic structure (ii) a semio-narrative structure (iii) multiple surface discursive structures. A brand’s semic nucleus becomes temporalized by being inserted in the internal logic of a brand text qua semio-narrative structure. In turn, the semio-narrative structure temporalizes the surface discursive manifestations of a brand text, by inserting them in a brand text’s diegetic time. A brand’s diegetic time differs from the temporal deployment of surface discursive manifestations, while being responsible for conferring narrative identity to seemingly disparate discursive expressive elements. This triple temporal structure is addressed on both synchronic and diachronic levels, against the background of a brand’s idiolect, but also in the light of a co-evolving product category’s sociolect. Moreover, this triple temporal schema, responsible for organizing a brand’s idiolect qua logico-semantic simulacrum, is addressed in the face of how consumers’ brand related associations are shaped by recourse to the Greimasian communication model of participatory communication. The practical implications for managing brands as constantly evolving texts in the face of the above temporal structures are highlighted, against the backdrop of a co-evolving product category sociolect and consumers’ constantly shifting mindscapes.  

(Abstract submitted to the 8th Nordic Semiotic Association conference February 2013)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Brand equity planning with structuralist rhetorical semiotics

Title: Brand Equity Planning with Structuralist Rhetorical Semiotics

ISBN: 978-3-86219-706-4 (print)
            978-3-86219-707-1 (e-book)
Author: George Rossolatos
Release date: February 2014
Pages: 895
Publisher: Kassel University Press
Available for preview and purchase @

Brand Equity Planning with Structuralist Rhetorical Semiotics furnishes an innovative conceptual model and methodology for brand equity planning, with view to addressing a crucial gap in the marketing and semiotic literatures concerning how advertising multimodal textual elements may be transformed into brand associations, with an emphasis on rhetorical relata as modes of connectivity between a brand’s surface and depth grammar.  The scope of this project is inter-disciplinary, spanning research areas such as brand equity, structuralist semiotics, textual semiotics, visual and film semiotics, multimodal rhetoric, film theory, psychoanalysis. The proposed connectionist conceptual model of the brand trajectory of signification is operationalized through a methodological framework that encompasses a structuralist semiotic interpretative approach to the textual formation of brand equity, supported by quantitative content analysis with the aid of the software Atlas.ti and the application of multivariate mapping techniques. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Exploring the rhetorical semiotic brand image structure of ad films with multivariate mapping techniques, Semiotica Vol. 200, pp.335-358.

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the applicability of multivariate mapping techniques to the exploration of the rhetorical semiotic brand image structure of ad films. By drawing on correspondence analysis and multidimensional scaling, two techniques that are amply used in corpus linguistics and in marketing research, but also on the data reduction technique of factor analysis, it will be displayed how a set of nuclear semes and classemes or an intended semic structure that underlies ad filmic discursive structures may be projected alongside rhetorical figures by its internal stakeholders (i.e., a brand management team, an account planning team or a marketing research team) with view to attaining differential brand associations. The illustration of the exploratory analytical methods takes place by recourse to a corpus of 62 ad filmic texts from 13 sub-brands of the 3 major brand players in the UK cereals market and 321 ad filmic segments that resulted from the segmentation procedure. This demonstration is deployed by adopting a synchronic/diachronic and intra (ad) filmic / inter (ad) filmic approach to the formation of brand associations that make up a projected brand image structure, in the context of embedded product category dynamics.   

Keywords: rhetorical semiotics, ad films, brand image, multivariate mapping techniques