Conceptual Metaphors in Beer Advertisements

Term Paper, 2021

21 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2 Theoretical Background

3 Research Methodology

4 Findings

5 Conclusion


Appendix: List of Advertisements

1 Introduction

"A conceptual metaphor is understanding one domain of experience (that is typically abstract) in terms of another (that is typically concrete)" (Kövecses, 2017, p. 1).

The quote above suggests that conceptual metaphors are usually used to simplify complex ideas. However, in the advertising industry they can serve all different kinds of purposes. As advertisements usually promote objects, there is no need for them to simplify the displayed item. I argue that conceptua/metaphorsm beer advertisements construct an complex net of ideas in people's heads, which presents beer as if it added value to our lives.

The following paper will look into the usage of conceptual metaphors in advertisements from the ten most popular beer brands in the UK. I will present the four predominant general metaphors in beer advertisements and their different function. Firstly, the essay outlines Lakoff and Johnson's (1980) approach to metaphor. Hence, I will explain the Conceptual Metaphor Theory. Secondly, the method of data collection will be illustrated and I will clarify how I identified the conceptual metaphors. Subsequently, the research results will be described and interpreted. Lastly, I will summarise my results and discuss the effect these advertisements might have on society.

2 Theoretical Background

The Oxford English Dictionary describes a metaphor as:

"A figure of speech in which a name or descriptive word or phrase is transferred to an object or action different from, but analogous to, that to which it is literally applicable".

However, the definition given by the Oxford English Dictionary is insufficient because a metaphor is not exclusively a literal figure. In Metaphors we live by (1980), Lakoff and Johnson suggest that the human conceptual system is metaphorical. Therefore, we think in metaphors. This indicates that metaphors determine the way in which we perceive the world. (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, pp. 3-4). As a consequence, they occur in speech and texts in order to express our metaphorical thoughts. Metaphors can be used to explain less well- understood aspects of objects or concepts in terms of better understood human characteristics and vice versa (Lakoff & Johnson, 1989, p. 172). Therefore, whenever we see, hear or speak about a subject that is too complex to grasp, we use metaphors to map more simple characteristics onto it.

As their approach to metaphors was different from the usual, Lakoff and Johnson introduced a new expression for metaphors: conceptual metaphors.The Conceptual Metaphor Theory refers to an ontological mapping across conceptual domains. Mapping is the process of understanding one domain in terms of the other. It is based on a set of correspondences between the source domain and the target domain. A metaphorical expression is the linguistic realisation of such a cross-domain mapping. (Lakoff & Johnson, 1992, pp. 1-4).

3 Research Methodology

The corpus comprises of 26 metaphorical expressions extracted from beer advertising poster. The brand selection is based on a list of the ten most popular beer brands in the UK, published on the website of the advisor company Gartner. The list consists of the following ten brands: Budweiser, Guinness, Stella Artois, Heineken, Carlsberg, Coors Light, Tennent's, Carling Strongbow and Pilsner Urquell. After looking up the brands advertising posters on Google Images, I created a list of five metaphorical expressions of each brand. For Strongbow and Tennent's only two metaphor entailing advertisements could be found. Subsequently, the identified metaphors were sorted by their general source domain. These were subcategorised into explicit source domains again. As proposed byYus (2009, p. 156), the metaphors were identified and interpreted in three steps: a) identify the source and target domain, b) investigate if a conceptual elaboration is necessary in order to find a connection between the two domains c) determine their metaphorical relationship.

4 Findings

Four main source domains were identified: HUMAN, COMPLEX CONCEPT, COMPLEX

OBJECT, NATURAL PHYSICAL OBJECT. These categories are based on the Great Chain theory.1

Table 4.1 Metaphorical expressions in beer advertisements

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


1 Lakoff & Turner (1989) explain the Great Chain as a cultural model that every human uses subconsciously to organise all forms of beings by the quality of their attributes. Accordingly, humans are the highest categorised beings because they have attributes like morality and abstract reasoning that animals and inanimate objects don't have. Furthermore, Lakoff & Turner argue that attributes that are high on the Great Chain are difficult to grasp. As a consequence, we tend to explain these complex faculties of higher beings in terms of beings that are lower on the chain (Lakoff & Turner 1989, pp. 166-171).

Excerpt out of 21 pages


Conceptual Metaphors in Beer Advertisements
Free University of Berlin
Catalog Number
Die Hausarbeit beschäftigt sich mit den verschiedenen Metaphern, die in Bierwerbungen der UK vorkommen. Damit wird für jede Metapher die source- und target domain bestimmt.
Metaphor, conceptual metaphor, metaphors in advertisements, advertisment, levels, linguistic analysis, corpus, source domain, target domain
Quote paper
Joelle Schmidt (Author), 2021, Conceptual Metaphors in Beer Advertisements, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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