Symbolic visuals in advertising: The role of relevance. Page: 2
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Holmes, Gary R., Symbolic visuals in advertising: The role of relevance. Doctor
of Philosophy (Marketing), August 2008, 128 pp., 26 tables, 7 illustrations, references,
Relevance has been applied to various conditions in the marketing literature but
no single definition has been developed. A single clear definition will be helpful to
researchers investigating relevance in the marketing and consumer behavior fields.
Confusion also exists in the literature regarding to what extent a symbolic visual in an
advertisement is relevant. Many researchers are also calling for empirical evidence of a
linkage between relevance and response through a theoretical measure of relevance.
The central theory used in this dissertation is Sperber and Wilson's (1995) theory
of relevance (TOR). TOR can help researchers and marketing managers by explaining
how consumers may interpret visuals in advertising. TOR explains why some visuals
thought to be unconnected with the product become relevant in advertising. This study
makes the assertion that TOR has been underutilized and even ignored by some
researchers in past marketing literature. Thus, TOR is used to provide greater explanatory
power of consumers' interpretation and response to advertising visuals than what is
currently realized by researchers and marketing managers. A reliable measure of
relevance was developed using TOR as a foundation. Experiments were conducted to
empirically test TOR and support was found for most aspects of the theory.
This dissertation makes several contributions to the consumer behavior literature.
These contributions include: 1) clarifying the definition of relevance in advertising, 2)
developing a tentative measure of relevance, 3) providing an explanation of how non-
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Holmes, Gary R. Symbolic visuals in advertising: The role of relevance., dissertation, August 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc9089/m1/2/: accessed August 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .