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

Zhen Troy Chen, Ming Cheung

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-183
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Semiotics
Volume32
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • China
  • consumption
  • e-commerce
  • interactive banner ads
  • multimodal analysis
  • Social semiotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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