Metaphors Role In The CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Campaigns


Considered as figures of speech metaphors are about transferring associations from one experience to another in various fields, from the literary theory to scientific domain, as well. According to Berger ( 2012 ), the metaphor is “A mode of communication in which meaning is generated by making comparisons” ( Berger 2012, p. 241 ). A metaphor is actually a strong analogy which suggests equivalence between the two objects/things being compared ( Berger, 2012 ). For instance, if you say that your love is a rose, then you are using a metaphor. Suggesting such equivalence will cause the receiver of your message to attribute qualities of a rose to your love. So, a rose is beautiful and if your loves a rose then your love must be beautiful as well ( Berger, 2012 ). The current paper aims to examine advertisements in which metaphorical comparisons were made in the case of some products. The purpose was to identify what rhetorical themes emerged among the advertisements, and to determine if the visuals could provide sufficient content for a marketing message. An analysis was performed on each through the application of visual semiotics. Findings indicated that a visual metaphor approach can deliver involved rhetorical marketing messages to the viewer. The methodology used in the case of this research study contains two basic directions: a documentary research on the metaphor typology and the use of metaphors in the case of Social Responsibility Campaigns, and the link between the advertising construction theory for a campaign and the forms of advertisement, as well as.

Keywords: Visual metaphorsprint advertisementsCSR campaigns


Metaphors merge two seemingly incompatible images or concepts in an effort to create symbolism.

Metaphors are frequently used in advertising as a way to enhance the perceived value of a product or to

make it seem more personal. They can also help to create a particular brand image. An advertising

metaphor often combines a verbal phrase with a visual image to dramatize the effect. Such comparisons or

metaphors can be portrayed through the use of visuals rather than words. This ability to make such a

strong comparison can be very valuable from an advertiser’s stand point since the visuals in an ad have

been found to be the most important element of an ad in capturing the target’s attention (Pieters & Wedel,


Generally speaking advertising is used by companies to improve the competitive advantage or to

increase the number of sales or to increase notoriety, as well. Lately an increasing number of companies

are turning to corporate social responsibility which includes social obligations that their business

organizations have towards society: economic responsibilities, legal, ethical and philanthropic ones.

Literature Review

Defining the concept of CSR” Corporate Social Responsibility”

Literally, responsibility means the obligation to respond, to manifest a conscious attitude towards

social obligations. So, a formal definition of the social responsibility involves a manager’s obligation of

integrating in his work projects which should contribute to the individual welfare as much as supporting

the company in the present and in the future, as well.

According to the specialty studies the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR), finds its

origins in the period between 1930 -1940 being perceived as a field of research a few years later by the

American economist Howard Bowen, who published in 1953 the book entitled "Social Responsibilities of the Businessman" , which provided a first definition of the businessmen social responsibility, namely: "It

refers to the obligations of the businessman to adjust policies, decisions or to follow those lines of action

which are appropriate to the objectives and values of our society"

According to the European Commission in a communication dated October 25th 2011, CSR

represents an essential concept through which, companies contribute voluntarily to improve the living

conditions. In this respect, it is defined as: "Responsibility for all companies on the impact they have on


Another approach comes from WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development)

which considers that "CSR represents the continuous commitment of the companies to contribute to the

economic development, on the one side, and to improve the life quality of the employees and their

families, and of the society and community, as well”

ISO 26000: 2010 regulates the CSR as being "the responsibility of an organization towards the

impact of its decisions and activities on the society and environment, through transparent behavior and

ethic which contributes to the sustainable development and the society health and welfare; takes into

account the expectations of the parts involved; respect the regulations and it is in concordance to the

international laws; it is integrated into the whole organization and practiced at the level of all relations.

Activities include products, services, processes. Relations refer to the organization activities within its


Having as starting point the philanthropic dimension which aims aspects which exceed the CSR

economic and legal area, one can state that, the activities performed by a company in view of sustaining

the community development, and of fulfilling the social responsibility assumed, could be divided into five different social programs, with specific benefits, as it follows:

1. Promoting a cause;

2. Philanthropic activities;

3. Volunteering in the community;

4. Marketing related to a cause;

5. Social Marketing.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) research has represented one of the key strands of research

into organizational management in recent decades (Gond and Matten, 2007; Walsh et al., 2003). This has brought about a change in the paradigm of study for the relationship between the economy, society and

the natural environment. (Marques-Mendes António, Maria João Santos, 2016).

As far as the CSR in Europe is concerned, this became a priority after the Summit of Lisbon

(2000) when the major objective of the European Council has been established, namely that of becoming

the most dynamic and competitive economic system in the world, capable of sustaining the economic

development through better and more jobs, and through higher social cohesion, as well.”

After this summit the European Commission published a paper entitled the "Green Paper" (July

2001) to promote an appropriate CSR framework in Europe. Later on, a written communication called

"Corporate Social Responsibility: A contribution from business organizations to sustainable

development." (July 2002) appeared; according to this, the European Commission proposed a strategy

based on the direction of social responsibility, preparing the Forum held in October, the same year,

regarding the CSR problem in Europe, which has been tasked with promoting the exchange of experience

between companies, and with establishing this topic conduct and evaluation.

Research on the CSR Metaphors. A Model of Explicit Vocabulary Teaching

This literature review is designed to explore and define a method of vocabulary instruction in the

case of CSR metaphors. The current research study will be guided by the following questions: "What

does research say about academic vocabulary instruction that fosters student engagement in academic talk and explicitly teaches word-analysis skills? How can expanded academic talk support academic

vocabulary acquisition?"

Using the guiding research questions, several studies have been chosen to provide extended

interaction and talk for vocabulary acquisition and word-analysis instruction.

As Maria Irene Moreno Rodriguez states in her paper Analysing Metaphors in Commercial

Advertising, "the idea of conceptual metaphors was firstly explored by G. Lakoff and M. Johnson and it

was mainly based on verbal communication as they developed their work 'Metaphors we live by'": (Maria Irene Moreno Rodriguez, 2011, p.109)

"Our conceptual system thus plays a central role in defining our everyday realities. If we are right

in suggesting that our conceptual system is largely metaphorical, then the way we think, what we

experience, and what we do every day is very much a matter of metaphor. (…) In most of the little things

we do every day, we simply think and act more or less automatically along certain lines. Just what these

lines are is by no means obvious. One way to find out is by looking at language. Since communication is based on the same conceptual system that we use in thinking and acting, language is an important source

of evidence for what that system is like “. (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, p. 124).

Initially, the Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) took into account the fact that it was based on

verbal metaphors. Later on, a series of studies have also demonstrated that metaphors can also occur non-verbally (Grady, 2007) and multimodally (Fauconnier & Turner, 2002). When distinguishing between

monomodal and multimodal metaphors, Forceville states that language can be perceived through two

different modes: (...) “ language can be both perceived visually and aurally. I propose there is good reason to do justice to the important differences between these two manners of perception by giving the status of a different mode to ''written language'' and ''spoken language''. After all, oral and written texts rely on very

different conditions of understanding “. (Maria Irene Moreno Rodriguez, 2011, p.110)

The main goal of the current study is to present an analysis of CSR metaphors used in product

advertisements. In order to carry out this piece of work Forceville’s point of view on metaphors will be

used. According to Forceville (2006), if a product is only advertised visually, it has to be divided into

source and target domain.

Research Methodology

The current study uses the exploratory research on secondary data sources. The research method

has been documentation. In the period 01.02-01.05.2016 there was elaborated a qualitative research

aiming to identifying the importance of promotional campaigns among students. The method used was

based on a structured interview applied to a target group of 25 students from "1 Decembrie 1918

University" of Alba Iulia.

Explicit instructional talk is evident when it directly and intentionally prepares students for their

learning, informs them of the learning path and enables them to develop metacognitive strategies for

knowing that learning has taken place. It engages student thinking for the purpose of learning about

specific aspects of literacy, in our case the CSR metaphors; it responds to student contributions in a way

that makes the connections to specific learning a priority; it responds to students’ contributions in lessons

in a meaningful way that provides scope for them to reformulate ideas, skills and knowledge and

articulate their learning to make real connections to their learning at all stages of the lesson; it also

engages in focused instructional talk.


-Identifying the CSR campaigns which had the highest impact on the target group.

-Identifying and analyzing the given message.

Communication is different in the two cases of products and services. Campaigns differ according

to the purpose to be achieved or to the targeted group. The present research study intended to present

campaigns which, through the message transmitted, aimed to promote a product or to modify attitudes

and behaviors. The essential characteristic of the transmitted message in the very case of CSR is that of

inducing an immediate action of the public, the consumer-product relation being not a direct one in this


As result of the research conducted, the students’ answers to the question "What is the first

campaign of social responsibility that comes to your mind?" were: "Andrei’s Country Campaign, Made in

Romania and Smile, Romania."

The question "Why you appreciate advertising campaigns" provided the following answers:

message content; modalities of implementation.


The strongest results for student learning are from studies that incorporate active, extended talk

when learning academic vocabulary. Mercer (1996) sets out to test the linguistic conditions that promote

successful acquisition of academic vocabulary and content. He specifically formulates his study around

the theory that language is social and academic.

Word analysis instruction. The problem of social isolation in the case of children with

autism- Mercury360

Mercury 360 have created a creative print with direct impact for the Help Malin Association,

aiming to make the public aware of their right to recovery services, especially to the social integration

need in the case of children with autism, who are perceived as so lonely and alienated nowadays.

Figure 1: Monomodal metaphor
Monomodal metaphor
See Full Size >

Cognitive analysis:

Metaphor: children with autism are lonely and alienated

Source: image of shadow

Target: child

Modality: monomodal

visual representation of the source

visual representation of the target

The analysis shows that the shadow of the child is the domain source, while the target domains are

the children. The relation between these two items is presented in an explicit way, because the public is

aware of the fact that loneliness can kill children’s soul and transform them into alienated individuals. In

this respect, one can state that our duty is that of helping the children in need, in our case, children with


Extended Academic Talk. A Partnership Which Encourages the Initiative of Having Breakfast with Family

Cheerios, a brand of cereals of General Mills, broadcast an advertisement in which they announced

their partnership with an initiative that encourages families to have breakfast together.

Cheerios and those from “The Family Dinner Project”, created “The Family Breakfast Project”, a

project in which they tell people that, in the economy of an overwhelming day breakfast can be an

excellent opportunity of spending some time with family members.

Figure 2: Simple metaphor
Simple metaphor
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In this case we can say that we deal with a group of two children (brothers) trying to prepare the

breakfast and to communicate. It is obvious that they prepare the meal together because of the caption of

the logo "Connect with your family…one meal at a time". As seen in figure 3 , no metaphor involved in

this picture will advertise the product. Consequently, the image has been defined as simple image.

Extended Academic Talk. Skittles-Its Role in The Campaign of Protecting and Educating Children in Need

Skittles engaged that for each point scored by Lynch to donate 10.000 dollars to its foundation,

which was fighting for protection and education of the children in need. Lynch succeeded in scoring to

Super Bowl, and the foundation received its money, with the promise for other to come.

In addition to this, Skittles launched a special edition for Seattle Seahawks fans, with green and

blue candies (team’s colors). The packages have not been sold in supermarkets, but they have been bid

together with personalized football equipment. The funds have been also donated to Lynch Foundation.

Figure 3: Multimodal Metaphor
Multimodal Metaphor
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Word Analysis Instruction Andrei’s Country (Ţara lui Andrei)

Andrei’s Country (Ţara lui Andrei) is a CSR project of OMV Petrom. For more than four years the

campaign sustains those who know, can and want to inspire their friends in need. The campaign sustains

all those who want to make their own future and to create together a better country every day. Andrei’s

Country trusts its people. It trusts in the power of those who succeed in life by themselves, and trust those who know to guide and inspire them, as well.

Figure 4: Multimodal Metaphor
Multimodal Metaphor
See Full Size >

Cognitive analysis:

Metaphor: image of the tree guiding and inspiring the others

Source: guiding and inspiring the others

Target: tree

Modality: multimodal verbal representation of the source

visual representation of the target

The characters from Andrei’s Country are not overwhelmed by daily problems; on the contrary,

they choose to solve them. And the difference is made by those who see in each obstacle a new

opportunity of reconstructing the entire world. These are the people who win, through their daily activity,

the title of Honorary Citizens of Andrei’s Country.

Both metaphors from figures 3 and 4 are considered to be multimodal metaphors. According to

Forceville (2007), a metaphor is considered multimodal when the source domain and the target domain

appear mainly in two different modes. There are various combinations of these kinds of metaphors, but

one of the most frequent is the combination of the pictorial mode and the written mode, as can be

observed in the images mentioned above.

In summary, the research on effective academic vocabulary instruction in what CSR metaphors are

concerned, points towards a model of explicit, context-embedded teaching of the word along with

teaching word-analysis skills. Students who engage in the negotiation of meaning of content, linguistic

forms, and vocabulary show greater gains in vocabulary acquisition and generalized skill transfer.

Moreover, the current research paper demonstrates gains for all those 25 students in the target

group learning vocabulary items with explicit vocabulary instruction comprising word-analysis skills and opportunities for academic talk.


The aim of this paper was to present an analysis of visual metaphors, and to illustrate the existence

of a possible continuum between different types of metaphors in advertising, and especially in the case of

CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). As shown in the above analysis there is a set of images which

represents a visual metaphor reinforced by the use of language. This particular usage of the language is

essential to understand the metaphor role, but it is never presented as a source or a target domain.

Therefore, it can be concluded that the pictures presenting this pattern must be considered borderline


Teaching students how to use an academic word, modeling, and providing guided support can

foster increased participation and attendance to desired vocabulary.

To share our findings we plan to dialogue with our colleagues to discuss major pedagogical and

content implications. As teachers, it is our responsibility to provide mainstream teachers with applicable

suggestions for academic vocabulary items and activities to promote student talk, as well.


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