UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 12 (2000)

Persuasive communication: The case of marketing


Two of the goals of human communication are: to be understood and to be believed. In persuasive communication, both of these acts are fulfilled. Pragmatists have investigated the first goal and how it is carried out, while social psychologists have focused on the second goal. This paper attempts to shed new light on persuasion by reviewing work from both fields and sketching the outline of a model integrating such work. Relevance theory bridges communication and cognition and, as such, provides a solid foundation for further research on persuasion. Marketing communication offers a rich domain of investigation for this endeavor: we show that pragmatics can only benefit from an analysis of persuasive communication in an “optimized” context such as marketing.

[PDF file]