Metaphorical conceptualizations of marketing

Raluca Gabriela BURCEA


Currently, the centrality of marketing to enhancing the prosperity of businesses, individuals and even society is an undeniable fact. Marketing has emerged as a field worthy of being investigated by both marketing theorists and practitioners and specialized discourse researchers. 

Since the apprehension of the highly complex and abstract marketing notions cannot be achieved spontaneously, metaphor represents a valuable tool for providing a better understanding of the domain in question. In this context, our paper aims to explore three of the most relevant conceptual metaphors used in relation to marketing, namely the MARKETING IS MOVEMENT, the MARKETING IS MILITARY CONFLICT and the MARKETING IS A RELATIONSHIP conceptual metaphors. Relying on a corpus formed of two notable works on marketing, we highlight the main linguistic realizations of the above-mentioned metaphors, with a focus on their emergence and prominence in close connection with the shifts in the conceptual paradigm of marketing.



metaphor, marketing, cognitive theory, movement, military conflict, relationship

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George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980).

• Elena Semino, Metaphor in Discourse (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008)

• Philip J. Kitchen, (Editor), Marketing Metaphors and Metamorphosis, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

• Robert Durö and Björn Sandström, Stratégies guerrières en marketing (Paris: Les Editions d’organisation, 1988).

• Lisa O’Malley, Maurice Patterson and Helen Kelly-Holmes, “Death of a metaphor: reviewing the « marketing as relationships » frame”, Marketing Theory, Vol. 8, No. 2, (2008): 167-187.

• Catherine Viot, “Personnalité de la marque: la métaphore justifie-t-elle la transposition d'échelles de personnalité humaine?”, (paper presented at the 5th International Congress ESCP-EAP “Marketing Trends”, Venice, January 20-21, 2006).

• Frédéric Le Roy, “La stratégie militaire comme métaphore de la rivalité concurrentielle”, (paper presented at Sixième Conférence de l’AIMS, tome 2, Montréal, Ecole des HEC de Montréal, Canada, 1997, 157-164).

• Michael J. Baker (Editor), The Marketing Book, Fifth Edition (Burlington, MA: Butterworth Heinemann, 2002).

• Philip Kotler, Gary Armstrong, Veronica Wong and John Saunders, Principles of Marketing, Fifth European Edition (London: Pearson Educational Limited, Prentice Hall, 2008).

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