Consumption as extended carnival on Tmall in contemporary China: a social semiotic multimodal analysis of interactive banner ads

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Chen, ZT
Cheung, Ming
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2020
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Abstract

This article examines the multimodalities of banner ads in pervasive marketing and advertising. Departing from the “Double 11 shopping carnival” spectacle on Tmall, this paper conducts a social semiotic and multimodal analysis of banner ads in the Chinese context. As the investigation of the discursive construction process shows, banner ads on Tmall take advantage of human interactivity, intentionality, persuasion and value creation to increase online sales as part of a gamification process while such modalities enhance consumers’ shopping experience and sociality. This article provides a synthesis of social semiotics, multimodal analysis and interactivity to guide our analysis of advertising in e-commerce. We argue that apart from traditional marketing strategies, Tmall has extended and obscured the rebellious notion of carnival and used it as a corporation-led strategy to create new cultural forms that encourage spending. This is in line with the rising consumerism in the Chinese society. Our findings will be useful for researchers conducting interdisciplinary studies of multimodal analysis and social semiotics, media and communications as well as advertising and marketing, with a focus on an increasingly globalised China.

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Social Semiotics
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Design
Communication and media studies
Cultural studies
Other language, communication and culture
Arts & Humanities
Social Sciences
Humanities, Multidisciplinary
Communication
Linguistics
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Chen, ZT; Cheung, M, Consumption as extended carnival on Tmall in contemporary China: a social semiotic multimodal analysis of interactive banner ads, Social Semiotics, 2020
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