The System of Epistemes in Advertisement Design in Azerbaijan
Advertisement, being an information component and an organizing factor of distribution, is an important element of communication process. Besides, as a piece of information, advertisement has two crucial characteristics, namely semantic content and form; the content assumes the form, following the will of an ad man. The delivery of advertisement is dynamic, that is, the same text can be presented through different semantic images, which is quite important for consumer. Also important are the form-related characteristics, such as colour, print, graphic and image shapes, which can be particularly national and intentional.
Advertisement does not create or invent anything, but it promotes the invented. It showers the consumer with huge amount of information. Yet the study of advertising art is impossible without analyzing and studying the value scale, on which the consumer’s attitude towards the world around is based. It concerns the specifics of national mentality and differences among social groups.
Advertisers learn not only to identify value hierarchy, but also to apply it when creating a particular advertising message. Unless it concerns adaptation beyond the boundaries of a certain mentality, proper identification of a target audience, gender focus, consideration for social class and income, issues related to ethnic, racial and confessional subcultures, as well as age groups are all technical matters related to the advertisers’ professionalism.
The Azerbaijan audience, for instance, is rather complex and diverse. Its perceptions encompass a complex value system and a particular viewpoint that is characteristic of Azerbaijani mindset, understanding and behaviour. Contemporary Azerbaijani society cannot and is not set outside globalization processes that infiltrate all aspects of society and human activity, replacing time-grown concepts with new, modern and “fashionable” ones.
Globalization has created and declared new benchmarks and images and new forms of delivering information that nowadays strongly influences our social institutions and behaviour of those who happened to be within its cover range. Within our society there is a difference in pace, willingness, understanding and perception of entering the global world. This process depends on the degree of information saturation, and on the willingness of selected groups in a nation to be involved in the process of information sharing that “implies taking certain moral commitments by the sharing parties” (1, p. 88). Time dictates its own rules: marginal in the essence, we rush headlong into the global cultural stream. To retain a unique ethnicity the values characteristic of a particular national mentality have to be defended. Yet this is possible only if the uniqueness of the mentality is grasped, motivations behind tradition are understood, and procedures to manipulate (adjust) the consciousness are developed.
For instance, G. Kuliev noted: “As basic elements of mentality, archetypes are very stable (invariant) phenomena. Archetypes are not susceptible to particular metamorphoses: their invariability protects mentality from erosion, but this factor significantly obstructs the adjustment of their essence, i.e. manipulation” (2, p. 3).
We live in the world of diverse symbolic images, many of which no longer carry independent mundane semantics – with the arrival of conventionality and plastic interpretations. Our mentality has many closed, tabooed themes. They helped to preserve and fulfill an important condition of uniqueness, which supported semantic boundaries of lifestyle and social system at large. As our society integrates into global information environment, one can observe shifting, and sometimes even dissolution of the boundaries with the “forbidden”, which alters the system of national values. On the one hand, we experience a dramatic increase of information volume; on the other, information itself has become a production factor. Civilization changes of the late 20th and early 21st centuries have fundamentally transformed the dependence on information in the society. Socio-cultural, aesthetic and social standards cannot change in one individual alone. There has to be a whole group of “coded” people with a different scale of ethical and aesthetic standards. In this respect, one has to bear in mind that advertisement design employs a diversity of symbolic images, many of which no longer carry their original spiritual significance. Yet their interpretation enables creative advertisement to maximize its impact on the consumer’s consciousness, using it in ideological and semantic forms, thus helping information advertising goods and services to settle in the recipient’s consciousness.
The object of advertisement is presented as a kind of a mythological image expressed through a symbol. Differences that exist in national mentalities, archetypes, stereotypes and cultural value hierarchies cause a different reaction to the same advertisement appeal. Based on a definition provided by contemporary ethnology, the picture of the world is perceived as one that evolved “on the basis of ethnic constants, i.e. human ideas about the world, partly conscious, partly unconscious” (3), where “ethnic constants and value system correlate as the means and the ends” (4). The main elements in the system are language, morals, myth-making, national history, memory, religion, the system of symbols, etc. The use of archetypes and stereotypes enables the engagement of the subconscious in the perception of advertising messages.
When studying the art of advertisement, one cannot do without the analysis and research into the value types. One has to perform an axiological analysis that implies a connection with a negative or a positive attitude towards the objects being perceived.
Azerbaijani mentality is characterized by spontaneity, idleness, kindness, absence of aggressive activity, pragmatism, contemplation and passive creation, as well as a complex value system and specific attitude to the perception of the archetypical and to the centuries-old system of epistemes, i.e. symbolical notions that are a kind of specimens and indicators of what in our understanding is a “proper” mode of operation and behaviour.
“In terms of inner content, values upheld by different social groups and individuals include archetypes, stereotypes and ideals” (5, p. 57). According to Kuliev, it is the archetypes in their totality that constitute the core of any ethnic culture. “Every culture can be identified with its intrinsic “archetype set”, based on which the cultural uniqueness of lifestyle is formed” (2, p. 7). The value hierarchy is usually structured exactly in accordance with the needs scale of particular entities. This is used as a guide in finding criteria for market segmentation and identifying the target audience for advertisement.
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