Effects of Visual Metaphors on Enhancing the Power of Advertisements


Brian J. Birdsell, Hirosaki University, Japan
Natsuko Tatsuta, Hirosaki University, Japan
Hiroaki Nakamura, Nagoya University of Economics, Japan
Email: brian@hirosaki-u.ac.jp
Published: August 12, 2022

Citation: Birdsell, B. J., Tatsuta, N., & Nakamura, H. (2022). Effects of Visual Metaphors on Enhancing the Power of Advertisements. IAFOR Journal of Psychology & the Behavioral Sciences, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijpbs.8.1.01


Visual metaphors deliberately deviate from the literal representation of an object. The resulting incongruity has the potential to be more engaging and memorable for the viewer and thus are frequently used as a design feature in advertisements. Recently, researchers have begun to more thoroughly examine the advantages that visual metaphors play in advertisements and this study contributes to this growing body of research. Two experiments were conducted using sets of paired advertisements for the same product or social awareness campaign based on one of them being a visual metaphor and the other being a visual non-metaphor to explore if there was a visual- metaphor effect. In Experiment 1, participants rated these adverts based on three criteria, effectiveness, engagement, and a metaphorical framing effect along with an open-ended question. In Experiment 2, two additional variables were included, comprehensibility and creativity. Results support the view that visual metaphors tend to be more engaging and perceived to be more creative. However, this does not always result in them being viewed as more effective adverts.


advertisements, creativity, engagement, framing effect, visual metaphor