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Advertising is one of the means through which marketers or manufacturers convince buyers to patronize their products. It involves the dissemination of information about products, services, ideas e.g from advertisers to the public in a short time and space. There are different kinds of advertising but this research work will focus on retail advertising. This work examines the meaning and features of advertising and by using the descriptive approach. Audio tapes were collected from selected media stations and were transcribed and analysed. Data were drawn from both English and Igbo advertisement. The researcher endeavoured to highlight the choice of words used in the advertisement. The imageries and figurative expressions of the selected advertisements were also discussed. The study tried to account for the reasons and meanings of some grammatical expressions in the selected radio advertisements. In advertising specialized terminologies enable advertisers to sell the products, services, or ideas being advertised to the public. Advertising has its peculiar linguistic devices which are used to get the attention of the audience to patronize the advertised products. It has preference for short and condensed sentences, as well as catchy phrases and sentence fragments.



1.0       Background of Study

Advertising is one of the tools of public communication. Advertising is essentially a persuasive means of communication task to reach a defined audience in a given form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods and services. Advertising has become a part and parcel of man’s life in society.

Every linguistic setting has peculiar language items that are acceptable and appropriate to it. This is also applicable to advertising. It would be recalled that communication is one of the most essential roles of language and that advertising is a specialized form of communication. A given set of utterances devoid of meaning does not make for effective communication. For communication to be effective there must be a sharing of the symbolic representations between the sender and receiver. Meaning therefore is always at the core of communication. Before a given advertisement communicates effectively to its target audience, it must be meaningful; if not, the purpose of such an advertisement is defeated.

The ultimate goal of an advertiser is to appeal to his audience to accept his view on the advertised products, services, etc as well as to retain the patronage of those already using the product. In some cases an advertiser only informs his audience of the availability of the advertised item. In order to effect these within the shortest time and space available, the advertiser tilts the language items in such a way as to suit his purpose. This results in the linguistic style of advertising.


The aim of this research is to highlight the various linguistic features of advertisement which make for effective communication.

1.0.1 Brief History of Advertising

According to Ranson (1997:204), advertising began around 3200 BC when the Egyptians stenciled inscriptions of the names of kings on the temples being built. Later, they wrote runaway slave announcement on papyrus. Signboards were placed outside doors in Greece and Egypt around 1500 BC. Ranson says, it was not until 1704 that paid advertisements were printed in the U.S. Benjamin Franklin made advertisement more readable by using large headlines and by surrounding the advertisement with considerable white space. By 1771, there were 31 newspapers in the colony and all carried advertisement.

Dominick (1990:364) observed that the most important event in the history of advertising was the printing of the Gutenbery Bible, about 1450 to 1455 in which the first printed advertisement in English announced a prayer book sale. The first newspaper advertisement appeared on the back page of a London newspaper in 1625. The early town crier was also a “medium of advertising”. The development of a national transportation system during the last half of the 19th century increased the number of readers who could be reached and led to expansion in newspaper and magazine circulation. At first, service to advertisers was provided by news dealers who accepted advertisements for any U.S. newspaper. This gave rise to advertising agents who obtained information about publishers their locations, rates and susceptibility to bargaining. The agents usually received 30% in commissions.


Consequently, commercial radio dates only from about 1920, when Westinghouse began to utilize the vast investment it had made in radio research and in the manufacture of radio equipment during World War I. On November 2 of that year, Westinghouse’s station KDKA in Pittsburgh Pa, initiated programme service by broadcasting the presidential election returns. The growth of radio usage was fast. By 1926, the foundation had been land for national networks, resulting in much greater use than ever before of radio as a major advertising medium. From modest beginnings, there were over 198 million radio sets in the U.S. or 3.2 per home. By that year the nation had 3,922 AM radio stations and 1,270 FM stations on the air (Ranson 1997:204).

The advent of the television brought about the “radio transmission of faces and pictures”. This took place in the late 1920s. Before the coming of the British, advertisement in Nigeria, especially in the rural areas before the advancement of technology was carried out by town criers. The first printed advertisement in Nigeria appeared in the Daily Times of Nigeria in 1926. With the advancement of technology in Nigeria, the electronic media was introduced and with time, advertising was not only done in the print. It is equally done in the electronic media, which include radio, television, E-mail, internet and so on. Most of the advertisers however opt for network broadcasting because of its ensured coverage.

1.0.2 Kinds of Advertising

According to Shally-Jensen (2004:197) advertising can be classified according to who advertises what to whom and where in order to bring about what response. The following eight classifications of advertising provide an overall view of the kinds of advertising.


(1)       National Advertising: Branded consumer products and services are

closely identified with the firm’s name: producers advertise nationally although sometimes differently in different geographical regions to consumers. The message is “Buy our brand or service”.

(2)       Retail Advertising: The advertisers are consumer outlets such as department stores, supermarkets and drug stores, and service institutions such as dry cleaners, laundries and banks. Their items and services are advertised to consumers within a geographical market area. The message is: “Do business with us”.

(3)       Industrial Advertising: The advertisers make such products as office equipment, machinery and computers – items and services that are used in manufacturing or that aid the operation of a business or institution. These items and services are advertised to industrial buyers, either nationally or regionally. The message is: “Use our product or service in your operation”.

(4)       Trade Advertising: Producers and distributors have both branded and non branded consumer products ready for consumption that is bought for resale or someone else. These products are advertised to retailers and to wholesalers through whom the products are sold to consumers. The message is “Stock and promote the sale of our product”.

(5)       Professional Advertising: Certain producers and distributors depend largely on professional people to recommend, prescribe or specify their products to buyers –items strongly influenced by a professional person are advertised with the message: “Recommend, prescribe or specify our product”.

(6)       Farm Advertising: The farm is a consuming until –and some advertising features consumer products that appeal to farm families as household


units. But the farm is also a producing unit, and other advertising is directed to greater farm efficiency. The message is: &ldquo

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