Precedent Phenomena In Social Networks Of Brands


The article is devoted to the phenomenon of precedence (Yu. N. Karaulov) in modern Internet communication. The author examines the concept of a “precedent text” in the context of the concept of intertextualization, identifying features of the representation of precedent in the aspect of multimodality. Using the example of the “MTS” and “Yota” VKontakte communities, explores for what purpose do brands use precedent phenomena in advertisements. The advertising text is a complex multidimensional phenomenon, for the study of the specifics of which an integrative approach that uses as a scientific base various areas of modern philology and related disciplines is needed. Internet advertising is built as an intertextual system. Social networks are used as platforms for working with clients more and more, because it is a place where existing and potential customers want to get answers to their questions in real time. The author examines several cases related to the use of precedent situation, precedent text, precedent statement and precedent name. The article addressed the issues, how do precedent phenomena help brands to convey information to consumers and how does the public respond to the use of precedent phenomena. Has been allocated hree main areas of precedent: social (politics, economics, sports, fashion, television, crime, religious and mythological sphere), art (fiction, cinema, music, art, theater and circus art) and natural science (natural, humanitarian) and medical sciences.

Keywords: Precedenceintertextualitymultimodalitypolycodularitycommunicative strategybrand


Kiklevich (2009) believes that:

in connection with the effect of the spiral of silence, we can introduce the concept of a precedent communicative context: we are talking about such communicative situations that actualize certain ideas about the world and the beliefs of members of some culturally-marked social group. (p. 269)

While developing this idea, the researcher notes the “socializing and correlative” function of stereotypes in communication, their role in shaping the culturally motivated background of perception of information, and “accounting a stereotypes in intercultural communication allows defining the behavior strategy in such a way that it maximally corresponds to the speaker’s tasks and tasks addressee or tasks of a third party” (Kiklevich, 2009, p. 276). According to Krasnykh (2008), stereotypes and precedent phenomena are similar, but at the same time different in a number of parameters: “1) the form of storage (various cognitive structures); 2) “fundamental principle”, its “roots”; 3) what cognitive aggregates (cognitive base, cognitive spaces, cultural space) are included and how exactly; 4) what is their character (in terms of “scope of coverage”: universal, national, social).

The definition of “precedent” emphasizes that this is not only “an earlier and widely known one”, but also “formed by reproducing or transforming a precedent text” (Vysotskaya, 2013, p. 118); we would clarify it is also seeming to be recognizable to the reader. The effect of external recognition of a speech event is essentially sufficient to superimpose the reader’s perception matrix on the author's text matrix of meanings, which is typical for the decoding process, the degree and depth of which will depend on the degree of coincidence of the fields of such a matrix, from “frame” to conceptual.

The theory of precedence in its linguistic-cognitive and linguistic-culturological variants is rapidly developing, and therefore it is quite natural to expand, refine and detail the traditional classification of precedence. In many cases, the use of new terms (precedent event, precedent deed, precedent mark, precedent concept, precedent visual image, precedent image, precedent gesture, precedent sound, precedent archetype concept, etc.) (Nakhimovа, 2018).

Problem Statement

The advertising text is a complex multidimensional phenomenon, for the study of the specifics of which an integrative approach that uses as a scientific base various area of modern philology and related disciplines is needed. Internet advertising is built as an intertextual system (Ilyushkina & Vershinina, 2018). Advertising specialists appeal to precedent phenomena in order to engage the consumer in the advertising situation and the conviction that it is necessary to purchase goods or services. Marketing communications (including various forms of advertising), which use precedent phenomena as the basis for building a loyal attitude of potential customers and buyers of goods and services to the brand, are actively researched by both marketers and mass communications specialists (see Phillips, 1997). Reflecting on pictorial metaphors and implications (hidden meanings embedded at the junction of text and image and generating a given impulse in the mind of the addressee; see the definition and description of implicature in: Sperber & Willson 1986), Phillips (1997)), among other things, notes that in advertising, it is especially important to have the quality properties of implicatures: their strength (evidence) or weakness (generating the addressee’s desire to “unravel” an implicature). In our opinion, this approach is quite consistent with the principle of the dominant: the definition of the dominant aesthetic theme allows you to “reveal” the meaning of the proposed multimodal message, including in the case of complex (weak) implicatures.

We distinguish three main areas of precedent phenomena: social (politics, economics, sports, fashion, television, crime, religious and mythological sphere), arts (fiction, cinema, music, art, theater and circus arts) and science (natural, humanitarian and medical sciences). However, the development of Internet communication allows to implement the category of precedence in new formats. The main reason for the acquirement of a precedential nature by advertizing text is the interest of the audience in this text. Successful use of any kind of precedent phenomenon in the advertising text can make the advertising text itself a precedent. The inclusion in the advertising text of precedent phenomena that refer to familiar situations emphasizes the desire of advertisers to operate with ideas that are understandable and significant for potential buyers in terms of value.

Recently, we can observe the study of tools of intertextuality on the material not only of artistic and kinematic texts (Kuleli, 2014; Albay & Serbes, 2017; Gonzalez Vidal & Morales-Campos, 2017; Kochneva, 2018), but also of new types of discourse: legal (Udina, Kostromin, Chilingaryan, & Kalashnikova, 2018), political (Tsakona, 2018), discourse of the prison subculture (Labotka, 2018). As a separate direction, we can point out the study of intertextual inclusions in polycode media texts (Hart, 2017; Bullo, 2017).

Research Questions

In order to analyze different approaches to creating precedent phenomena in social networks of mobile communication brands, we formulated key issues that the study will pay close attention to:

1) For what purpose do brands use precedent phenomena in advertisements?

2) What are the most common types of precedent phenomena used in advertising?

3) How do precedent phenomena help brands to convey information to consumers?

4) How does the public respond to the use of precedent phenomena? Does the audience read the meanings embedded?

5) What are the main features of creating content using precedent phenomena?

Purpose of the Study

As an example, let us turn to the communities of cellular communication operators “MTS” and “Yota” in the social network VKontakte. The range of precedent phenomena that are used in online advertising is very wide. At the same time, it is obvious that the analysis of precedent phenomena by areas of borrowing cannot be sufficiently effective, since it does not correlate with the communicative strategy of the authors of messages promoting the brand. According to Krotz (2007), commercialization is one of the metaprocesses of modern times (that is, an unstoppable and unceasing process) that correlates with mediatization (with the large and “eternal” phenomenon), forming hybrids representing the commoditization of phenomena of human life not previously subject to commercial interests (so there is an "economy of attention", the commercialization of fear, patriotism, interpersonal relations, etc.). That is why marketing communications capture important information exchange trends and allow you to see how successful mass communication mechanisms work. To achieve the goal of our article, we applied to the analysis of relevant posts the principle of dominant mediaesthetic analysis. These posts are examples of multimodality in marketing communications.

Research Methods

The study used the method of content analysis using the selected database of materials. It includes 86 posts published in the social network Vkontakte in the public pages of MTS and Yota. We chose the VKontakte because it is the most popular social network in Russia nowadays. According to Statista, Russian users prefer this particular platform. Social networks are used as platforms for working with clients more and more, because it is a place where existing and potential customers want to get answers to their questions in real time. From the chart taken from the Sprout Social report, you can see that 48% of users can be inclined to purchase by quickly answering the questions at the public page. 46% react positively to promotions, and 42% can choose a product brand, if its page contains educational content. 27% of surveyed users admitted that they would want to make a purchase if they were shown materials, which usually remain behind the scenes.

After that the description, analysis, synthesis and observation methods were applied to each post.


We reviewed the public pages of cellular communication operators “MTS” and “Yota” in the social network VKontakte. The range of precedent phenomena that are used in online advertising is very wide and there are no hard boundaries between them. These are precedent statements and names that appear as verbal phenomena, as well as precedent text and precedent situation, which qualify as visual precedent phenomena.

Let us give examples of advertising posts based on the use and variation of precedent phenomena.

Precedent name

“Newton also chose an apple” (Figure 01 ). Yota / November 3, 2018 (The source for precedence is the name of Isaac Newton).

In this case, the dominant feature is the symbolic code “science”, realized in the form of an animated and recognizable image of Newton and a large number indicating the percentage. The basis of the multimodal composition is a rich blue background color (correlated with the color of the Yota logo). In the traditional rubric “Yota Counts”, the author mentions Isaac Newton, with whose name the legend of an apple falling on his head is connected, thanks to which the English physicist discovered why objects fall to the ground. Thanks to the visuals, a game of meanings takes place: users of “Yota” choose an iPhone 5S (and, as you know, a company logo is a bitten apple), just like a physicist once “chose” an apple. However, the implicature of multimodal utterance is one of the weak ones - the media aesthetic dominant of the “serenity” of the blue background conflicts with the theme of “classical science”. It signals about possible hidden meanings of the message: the apple was “fallen on the head” of physics (and was not the source of any habitual actions related to the fruit), the number of users choosing iPhone 5S is small and, rather, speaks of “weirdness" of its users, and not about the deliberate choice and “advertising” of the iPhone, in addition, the very model of iPhone 5 at the time of the post (November 3, 2018) looks as archaic as the figure of Newton.

Figure 1: Newton also chose an apple
Newton also chose an apple
See Full Size >

Precedent statement

“Run, Fedor, run”. MTS / July 28, 2018 (The source for precedence is a quote from the Forrest Gump).

This advertising message is distorted citation. The verbal context has changed, but the situation remains the same. The purpose of the author’s use of the reference to the movie quote here is mostly to attract the attention of users and to create an associative series. In fact, the post does not sell anything, just offers readers to get acquainted with a selection of training apps.

“The flight is normal with MTS Music”. MTS / May 13, 2018 (The source for precedence is the quotation “It's five minutes - the flight is normal”).

In this case, the positive semantics of the precedent statement is used: you can listen to your favorite music anywhere, anytime with the mobile app from MTS. The visual accompaniment of the advertising message complements the text, allowing the audience to interpret the precedent text.

Precedent text

“He is alive and glowing” (Figure 02 ). Yota / August 3, 2018 (The source for precedence is Victor Dragunsky's story “He is alive and glowing”).

The advertising message is built on a reference to the work in which the boy Deniska changed his dear toy to a firefly. In the visual supplement to the post, we see a photo of the Yota modem, whose logo is glowing. The Yota modem, whose logo is glowing, corresponds with the firefly not only functionally, but also in its form itself: the media aesthetic dominant is the “night” code (the black color of the plastic of the laptop, the display, the keyboard, the modem itself and the background), into which the “star” lights up. This technique allows you to actualize an associative series in the mind of the addressee (the product is so good that you can exchange anything for it). Yota is a company that reminds you of childhood and homeland; their logo is cute and positive, even romantic, firefly, etc.). Unlike the previous example, we see here a strong implicature. There are many meanings extracted by the work of associative memory, but all of them are positive. In addition, the inclusion of “alive” associations in “techno” advertising is interesting by itself (there is an opposition of technical and organic, dead and alive).

Figure 2: He is alive and glowing
He is alive and glowing
See Full Size >

Precedent situation

"Chicken or the egg" (pic. 5). MTS / October 12, 2018 (The source of precedent is the chicken or the egg question).

This advertising post is an example in which all elements form one visual, semantic and functional field, aimed at a complex pragmatic impact on the addressee. At a substantive level, the author of the text connects the infinity of the dispute about which came first: the chicken or the egg with the infinity of unlimited mobile Internet in the tariff “Tariffische”. The direct meaning of the precedent is actualized with the help of eye-catching illustrations. The red egg in the photo corresponds to the brand logo, symbolizing the source of life, its fundamental principle.


After analyzing the public pages of mobile network brands in the social network VKontakte, we have identified a number of functions of precedent phenomena in online advertising.

1. Creating a comic effect. Often the precedent phenomenon is used in Internet advertising to create a comedy: the author initiates an allusion to a known situation, playing it in a form of a joke.

2. Creating an aesthetic effect. Sometimes the precedent phenomenon is used to achieve the expressiveness of the statement. The author uses a precedent phenomenon to create metaphors, comparisons, impersonations.

3. Creating a dialogue. The precedent phenomenon acts as a means of creating a dialogue with the audience, because it appeals to the previous communicative and cultural experience. The mention of certain realities of life, reference to literature or movie characters familiar to the audience causes an emotional response.

4. Creating a game effect. The precedent phenomenon has an important function of creating intellectual games and riddles. Since it is often expressed through a picture or text, and not directly, it is necessary to understand and decode a precedent phenomenon.

It is worth noting that advertising communication is characterized by a wide precedence (that is, well-known to a wide range of native speakers in a given period). Due to the fact that the addressee in the advertising discourse is massive, modern Internet advertising appeals to a wide range of precedent phenomena. The use of precedent ones makes advertising vivid and memorable. At the same time, the advertiser must be sure that the advertising text or visual accompaniment, based on the variation of precedent phenomena, is recognizable and the addressee can read them.


Prepared by Elena Shumakova article, was written with the support of RSF, 18-18-00007.


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07 August 2019

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Shumakova*, E. (2019). Precedent Phenomena In Social Networks Of Brands. In & Z. Marina Viktorovna (Ed.), Journalistic Text in a New Technological Environment: Achievements and Problems, vol 66. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 746-753). Future Academy.