Mari-Liis Madisson
University of Tartu, Department of Semiotics


In the article I am going to analyze in which way such basic emotion as fear is used in advertising. I am particularly interested in those cases where I can identify mutual translation process between the iconic continual experience of fair and verbal discrete structures.

The article is divided in free parts. First part focuses on counter-advertising. It becomes actual when new type of products or marketing strategies are used. Counter-advertising is like a specific tool by which tradition expresses its resistance against changes. Usually alien elements are encircled with contemporary legends that mediate their harmfulness in moral but also in physical aspect.

The second part is about advertisements that are based on frightening contemporary legends that are well known in community. Commercials may turn those legends into travesty but they may also reanimate some old fears or even expose some new sides of the legends.

The third part tries to investigate in which way fears are cultivated in commercials. Someway it is used in all kind of commercials because every advertisement demonizes the other goods in the same category. But it is most clearly expressed when terrifying metaphors are used.

Keywords: semiotics of advertising, semiotics of fear, semiotics of culture, semiotics of own and alien, contemporary legends, rumor, conspiracy theories, folkloristics, counter-advertising, Yuri Lotman, Bill Ellis.