5.Personal Pronouns The mode of address needs to be given more attention in studying advertising. Adver- tisers aim to create a relationship between the addressees and themselves and the rela- tionship is more complicated than it appears
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The mode of address needs to be given
more attention in studying advertising. Adver-
tisers aim to create a relationship between
the addressees and themselves and the rela-
tionship is more complicated than it appears
at first glance. Advertisers are, in fact, addres-
sing an implied readership based on what ad-
vertisers believe we are like or, more impor-
tantly, would like to be. This can be described
diagrammatically:Real Writer ---- Implied
writer ----Text ---- Implied Reader----Real
Reader / Copywriter ---- Narrator ----Text----
Assumption made about us ---- Real Person
(Ronald Carter, 1997:199)
The ‘real writer’ is the copywriter, although
in the advertisement the‘narrator’ will be mas-
querading as the text producer. The advertise-
ment is addressed to an ‘implied reader’ whose
characteristics may be expressed in the adver-
tisement. These characteristics may or may not
coincide with the characteristics of the ‘real rea-
der’. Advertisers use pronominal forms to ad-
dress, through the narrator, the actual writer
while directing their text at the implied reader.
In the similar field, for the modes of address,
Guy Cook notes (1992:155) that advertisers
favor the use of pronouns and tend to use
them in particular ways. “We” is the manufac-
turer, “I” is often the advisor, the expert and
the relater of experiences and motives leading
to purchase of the product, “he/she” is very
often the person who did not use the product.
“You” can, however, refer to many people
simultaneously, for example, the advertisers
can directtheir message at certain groups
to the exclusion of others. They can create
an informal and friendly relationship which
is more detached in consumers’ mind.
The copywriter widely employs personal
pronouns in English advertisements. Just as
Merril De Voe put it long ago (1956), ‘ Most
valuable are names of people and personal
pronouns that enter upon people. All first and
second personal pronouns are personal, but
your copy should be made up predominantly
of the latter. Usually the pronoun you, should
occur with the greatest frequency’. In most
cases, you andwe and their possessive and
objective forms are utilized. Sometimes the
third-person pronouns he, she, and they and
their possessive and objective forms are em-
ployed. Personal pronouns carry important
meanings in advertisements. As the second-
person pronoun, you is most frequently used
in English advertisements, it is natural that its
other forms your, and yourself should turn up
in the context. Let’s first look at some exam-
ples involvingyou, your andyourself.
(2) … All it takes to get a better picture is
a better videotape. To enjoy a good picture
these days you need more than a good screen.
You need a videotape designed to bring out
the best in all the video equipment yourown.
Youneed a videotape that delivers crisp colors
and clear sounds. You need a videotape that
looks every bit as vivid on extended playing
time as it does on standard. You need a video-
tape so technologically advanced that it can
keep yourpicture perfect even after hundreds of replays.
In short, you need Fuji video- tape. Because
if you want to improve your picture, all you
really have to do is improve your video tape.
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In many advertisements you is repeatedly
used. From the examples quoted above, it is
easy to see that through the use of you,your,
yours and yourself, the advertiser is communi-
cating or talking directly to you, which refers to
any reader or audience. It sounds as if he or she
is putting across messages or giving desirable
advice to you in front of your face. In example
(1), the advertiser describes the appearance
and ideal functions of Cafetiere, a continental
tea and coffee maker, as if face to face with
you. In fact, the advertiser is creating a char-
ming image of his product, which is fascina-
ting and stimulating to you through the use of
you, yours and yourself. In example (2), the ad-
vertiser actually makes much effort to persuade
you to buy Fuji videotape. It is to be noted that
in this example, many reasons are given
to suggest you possess Fuji videotape as
early as possible. From this example, we
cansee that the advertiser makes full use
of repetition: here you need is repeated six
times and videotape six times too, impacting
people’s nerves strongly and repeatedly.
Naturally, the most impressive are the two
phrases: you need and videotape. They form
a sentence with a clear meaning: you need
a videotape. Example (3) is an advertisement
of the accounting software --- Omicron’s DOS.
Here, the advertiser aims to persuade you to buy
this kind of accounting software, but from
the text the advertiser seems to consider
consumers’ interests, so that the potential
consumers might take real action.
Why does the copy writer or advertiser
favor the use of you in the process of com-
posing ads? ‘Because you not only suggests
a one-to-one personal relationship, but also
implies that the advertiser can not know
whom they are reaching…The use of you is
powerful because it is slippery, not because
it picks up one person…’ (GregMyers, 1944:79).
To sell like a sales person, ads have to
address up personally, even when they
address millions of us at once.
Besides you, we is the second most
common personal pronoun in English adver-
tisements. Since we often appears in ads,our,
oursand ourselves naturally emerge in the
context. We has different references in diffe-
rent contexts: wemay refer to the advertiser,
or the secondary advertiser, or the sales per-
son, or the producer, or the agent, and it may
or may not include the addressee. Since you
always turns up in ads,wenaturally appears
so often. But why is wesaid to be the second
most common personal pronoun? This is
becausewe is sometimes omitted or implied
or need not be mentioned and because you
is more often required to express the neces-
sary information. It is to be noted that weis
always tricky, because it can be used in both
exclusive and inclusive senses, that is, either
including or not including the person who is
spoken to. In ads, one use produces a sense
of solidarity with the customer, the other projects
the image of the company as personal’(Greg
Myers, 1994:81). Here are two examples:
(4) Before you buy a new Skoda,
shouldn’t you read the small print?
See those little words beneath our badge?
The ones that say Volkswagen Group?
They are testimony to our partnership
Together, we’ve spent the last three years
Challenging and questioning everything that
The result of this process is the new Felica.
Like all Skodas, it’s spacious, yet, at the
sametime, economical enough to meet the
needs of a buyer who wants to make a sen-
Moreover, it embraces Europe’s highest
quality control and safety standards. Free
from the constraints of the cold war and with
the help of our friends at VW, our work force
have built a car that ranks alongside the best
But, perhaps more importantly, the whole
experience has produced a company that
ranks alongside the best in Europe.
We’ve changed the car. We’ve changed
The question is, are you open enough to
change your mind?
We’ve changed the car. Can you change
your mind ?
(5) Lately you’ve been hearing a lot of auto
companies talking about safety. And at Ford,
we’re proud to say that safety has been a part
of our heritage for years. After all, we were the
first U.S. car maker to offer safety class stan-
dard, and the first to offer a protection package
that included safety belts and padded instru-
Because to us, safety is more
than just the latest trend: it’s a key ingredient
in the trust we’ve built with ourcustomers over
In the above-mentioned examples, weand
its possessive form our turn up several times.
It goes without saying that we and our are used
in the exclusive sense, that is, the customers
are excluded. Through the use and repetition
ofwe and our, the advertiser, who seems to
be talking face to face with you, the reader or
the customer, is telling you what effort the
company has made and what successes
it has achieved, thus creating a wonderful
personal image of the car company. Of
course, the advertiser usually employs we
and you in the same context, where the
two sides of discourse become quite clear,
as can be seen from the examples quoted
above. However, the copy writer will prefer
using “ You attitude ” to using “Me attitude”,
because “You attitude ” rings more cordial to
consumers, and it can express readers’
needs, desires, and hopes more effectively.
From the above-mentioned examples,
we can come to the conclusion that “ You
attitude ” can communicate an advertising
idea more convincingly and persuade poten-
tial consumers to accept the advertiser’s pro-
motion. The first person I is sometimes used
in ad texts. As we all know, in some ads,
such as book ads, particularly in commer-
cials, products or services are advertised
through the mouths of famous people like
well-known actors and actresses, professors
and scientists. Naturally, in such cases, I is used
to bring out the personal experience and
feelings or thoughts of the customer whose
role is played by a famous person who adver-
tises the product or service. The qualities, or
properties, or advantages of the product or
service made clear by a secondary advertiser
through the use ofI are considered more objec-
tive, more powerful, and so more believable
and more reliable from the psychological point
of view. But Iis also tricky and slippery because
it can refer to different people in different contexts:
I may refer to the salesperson or stand for
an old or potential customer, or speak as
designer of a product, e.g.
(6) TOM SEAVER
Gardener, Baseball Hall-of –Fame
Gardening is an important part of my life.
I’m often out in my garden by seven.
I love the smell in the air, the early mor-
My wife Nancy gave me a bronze plaque.
It says: “ He who plants a garden plants
That’s the way I feel.
I use Miracle-Gro, to make everything
in my garden look its best.
I learned that secret back when I was a
rookie gardener. Tom Seaver
In some advertisements what ordinary
customers or clients have said is quoted
as part of the advertisement to add force to it. e.g.
(7) WOMAN: One reason why I bought
this Eagle Summit is that I once tried to put
all of my luggage in the back of a Toyota
Tercel and it just wouldn’t fit.
OFF-CAMERA VOICE: Sounds like a bad
WOMAN: Yeah, but it’s all behind me now.
Advantage : Eagle
(8) “Hi , my name’s Messy Marvin.
I got that name because no matter how
hard I tried, my room and my clothes were
always messy. But then one day, Mom
brought home thick, rich, yummy Hershey’s
Syrup in the no mess squeeze bottle. And
before I knew it, I was making the best cho-
colate milk I’d ever had. But I wasn’t making
a mess. It’s fun, too. I just pull the cap and
squeeze. Nothing drips, nothing spills.
Now Mom’s happy and so am I.
My room and my clothes are still a mess,
but at least there’s hope.
In Example (8), part of the original ad is quoted
above----the advertiser has quoted what the
woman has said. In fact, what she has said
is linked to the advantages the Eagle offers,
with the use of the first person pronoun I, the
advert becomes much more persuasive and
convincing as well as much more reliable and
attractive than if presented by the adver-
tiser himself. Example (9) is an advertise-
ment of Hershey’s Syrup, which is targeting
at the children from six to eleven years old,
so the advertiser chooses this boy as a spokes-
person. Once the boy, Messy Marvin, appears,
he is loved and trusted by consumers, because
many families have such a boy who always
makes his room and his clothes messy, so
what he says will be reliable for potential
consumers. It is reported that a lovely and likable
spokesperson can increase the number
of positive cognitive responses to the
commercial. It is not difficult to find that
ads set up relationships with readers or
customers by means of use of personal
pronouns. Therefore, appropriate applica-
tionof personal pronouns plays an important
role in bringing about successful adverts.