Critical Discourse Analysis of the Appeals in English Women’s Advertisements

Cao Shuo, Huili Wang, Yucui Wang


The improvement of women’s social status has witnessed an increase of products and services specially designed for women and, therefore, an upsurge of related female advertisements. The extant studies mostly concentrate on the pragmatic analysis of advertising discourses and explore the implicit implications of gender and ideology in female advertisements. This research, by putting female advertising discourse in a commercial setting and case-studying the most sellable English fashion magazine, aims to figure out whether reason appeals or emotional appeals are more prevailing. Based on Halliday’s System-Functional Linguistics, advertisement appeals are studied through examining the quantitative relationship of the occurrences of Material process and Mental process. The advertising data are collected from the women magazine COSMO, including 50 pieces of full-page advertisements about fashion and beauty in 2011 and 2012. Firstly, the Wordsmith tool extracts the verbs and calculates the frequency of verbs. The Material process to Mental ratio is 7 to 3, which basically supports that there are more reason appeals in English women advertisements. Then, every sample as well as its context is studied for Critical Discourse Analysis, and the results verify the conclusion that English women’s advertisements employ more reason appeals. In light of the findings, recommendations are offered on how to build successful advertising discourses for women’s products.



Advertisement, Material process, Mental process, Critical Discourse Analysis

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