University of Oulu

The use of visual rhetorical figures in vegetarian food advertisements

Saved in:
Author: Pakonen, Jenna1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Oulu Business School, Department of Marketing, Marketing
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.2 MB)
Pages: 127
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : J. Pakonen, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-05-21
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Lehtimäki, Tuula
Reviewer: Komulainen, Hanna
Lehtimäki, Tuula


The purpose of this master’s thesis is to identify how visual rhetorical figures are used when advertising vegetarian food to three possible segments: vegetarians, meat reducers and the mainstream audience. This thesis provides guidance for advertisers as to how to choose visual rhetorical figures for each segment. These conclusions are reached by analysing visual rhetorical figures in existing vegetarian food advertisements and categorizing these advertisements into three groups based on the overall visual complexity of the advertisement. The complexity results from the use of individual visual rhetorical figures that are combined to create the style of the advertisement.

The study was inspired by the fact that vegetarianism is a current topic for advertisers and consumers. Consumers are increasingly interested in vegetarian food due to the diet’s proven environmental and health impacts and companies are answering this demand by developing and advertising new vegetarian food related products. While the study focuses on how advertisers can best use visual rhetorical figures to advertise their products, this study also benefits the universal wellbeing of the planet, as the vegetarian diet has the potential to positively affect climate change and people’s health. Because of this, efficient advertising of vegetarian food is beneficial.

A clear research gap emerged during literature review: no research focusing on the visual rhetorical figures utilized by advertisers of one specific product category has been conducted. The study is conducted as a document analysis. 11 advertisements were collected from online sources and analysed based on a theoretical framework about vegetarianism and visual rhetorical figures. As a theoretical contribution, the results of this thesis demonstrate that in addition to visual rhetorical figures, the nature of the textual ad copy has an important role when categorizing advertisements into the three segments. The managerial implications of this thesis suggest that specific types of visual rhetorical figures should be chosen for the vegetarian and mainstream audience segments, but when advertising to the meat reducer segment, a textual ad copy that suggests a change in the viewer’s diet should be designed.

Advertisements aimed at the vegetarian segment can include complex visual figures and radical ethical claims about the wellbeing of animals and the environment. The least visually complex advertisements are aimed at the mainstream audience, which includes individuals who are not necessarily interested in vegetarianism and may even possess negative attitudes towards the vegetarian diet. The advertisements aimed at the mainstream audience must not moralize the viewer and should not include ethical claims. The advertisements aimed at the meat reducer segment fall between the previous two segments, as they are moderately complex and can include moderate claims about environmental and health issues.

see all

Copyright information: © Jenna Pakonen, 2021. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.