Aaltodoc publication archive (Aalto University institutional repository)
School of Business | Department of Communication | International Business Communication | 2013
Thesis number: 13193
Visual spokespersons and the localisation vs. globalisation of visual elements in communication through narrative images online - An analysis of global and localised websites of multinational pharmaceutical companies
|Title:||Visual spokespersons and the localisation vs. globalisation of visual elements in communication through narrative images online - An analysis of global and localised websites of multinational pharmaceutical companies|
|Year:||2013 Language: eng|
|Department:||Department of Communication|
|Academic subject:||International Business Communication|
|Index terms:||viestintä; communication; yritysviestintä; business communication; visuaalinen; visual; internet; internet; lääketeollisuus; pharmaceutical industry; kansainvälinen; international; kansainväliset yhtiöt; international companies; globalisaatio; globalization; paikallisuus; locality|
» hse_ethesis_13193.pdf size:5 MB (4500981)
|Key terms:||visual communication, source credibility effect, globalisation, localisation, pharmaceutical industry, websites|
Objective of the study: The objective of the study was to examine the visual communication of multinational pharmaceutical companies through images on their global corporate website as well as two localised websites: their home country and China. The study focused on human roles depicted in the images and examined the transferability of the source credibility effect from marketing communications into visual communication. In addition, by the means of comparing and contrasting, the study investigated whether pharmaceutical companies globalised visual elements across the three websites or whether the elements were all localised to the target audience.
Methodology and the analytical framework: The study consisted of a semiotic analysis, which examined the meaning conveyed through images on the websites, as well as a content analysis, which produced counts of frequency of the visual elements. Data consisted of 257 images including narrative themes found on the websites of four companies: Novartis, Orion, Pfizer and Sanofi. A total of 503 figures in the images were analysed. The analytical framework for the study was comprised of the visual grammars of Kress and van Leeuwen (2006) and O'Toole (1994), and looked at the data through three metafunctions of meaning-making (interpersonal, representational and compositional) and two units of rank (work and figure).
Findings and conclusions: The study found that pharmaceutical companies use visual communication through images not only to inform website visitors about their operations but also to demonstrate the impact of medicinal products in the lives of consumers in a more informal setting. Illnesses and old age are topics, which are, however, neglected in the images. Four groups of visual spokespersons could be recognised in the images: consumers, business professionals, employees and experts. The key signifiers of the groups were their clothing and the image setting. Each group was deemed to enable the source credibility effect to take place, although in different contexts and with varying credentials. Localisation was the strategy most commonly adopted by the pharmaceutical companies in the images across their global, home country and Chinese websites. Interestingly, however, globalisation was utilised to a great extent at the rank of figure. Future research into the topic could for example incorporate a comparison between the intended and actual message through company and website visitor interviews.
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