What role does the creative use of figurative operations play in the success of Internet videos?

Paula Perez-Sobrino, Jeannette Littlemore

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

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Prior work has investigated the attributes of internet videos and the factors that make them go viral, identifying emotional valence, emotional intensity, and surprise as key to their success. However, little is known about how the structure and complexity of the content of such videos contributes to their success. One factor that may account for the success of internet marketing videos (at least in part) is the presence of figurative operations and the creative use thereof. Metaphor, metonymy, irony, hyperbole, and understatement, have been shown to relate to success in other forms of advertising. In this paper we outline an investigation that explored the presence of these different kinds of figurative operation, as well as their density and positioning, and the ways in which they are used creatively. We found irony and figurative language based on creative contrasts between contrasting scenarios to be strong predictors of popularity. This effect increased if the message was rendered through the combination of images with words, rather than in either of the two modes in isolation. Finally, no effect was found for the positioning of figurative operations in the advertisement’s timeline. Our findings contribute to the wider marketing field by establishing figurative operations, in particular irony, as a key determinant of a video’s success.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerforming metaphorical creativity across modes and contexts. Figurative thought and language
EditorsLaura Hidalgo
PublisherJohn Benjamin
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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