Creativity as Choice in Etisalat Advertising Texts

Taofeek Dalamu

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Creativity is a usual behavior in advertising practices. The focus of the industry as a business of persuasion informs the copywriters flair for creativity. The study examines the textual choices that are usually deployed in etisalat advertisements to influence subscribers. Four advertisements of etisalat were considered as a demonstration of how etisalat utilizes creativity as a choice of meaning-making. The mood system serves as a means of analyzing the chosen texts. Tables and graphs are statistical devices assisted in value and visual deductions. The study revealed that two distinct features operate in the textual choices: (i) creative fallacy which appears as internet familiarization (e.g. wwwant), letter superfluity (e.g. freeeee), and compounding abnormality (e.g. easylife); and (ii) alphanumeric codes (e.g. 9javaganza). It is our suggestion that attempts should be made to generate corpus from the etisalat choices which can further be developed into a dictionary. Besides, this can influence other creative agents to new constructive textual ideas augment language development.

Keywords: Creativity, Language Choice, Advertising, Text, Mood System


One can state that an advert (henceforth: ad) is produced for a clear intention of persuasion to purchase goods and services. One of the ways of propagating this mission is through creativity. Creativity, Boden (1998) asserts, is a fundamental feature of human intelligence in general. It is grounded in everyday capacities such as the association of ideas, reminding, perception, analogical thinking, searching a structured problem-space, and reflecting self-criticism. It involves not only a cognitive dimension (the generation of new ideas) but also motivation and emotion, and is closely linked to cultural context and personality factors. We can deduce three salient terms from Boden’s perspective. These are combination of thoughts, consideration of organic concepts and transformation of personal imagination. It is noteworthy that English has provided linguistic features that allow varieties of creativity to flourish. Such linguistic behaviours may not have a definite shape. That is, they can operate either as obeying linguistic rules and processes of being notoriously deviant. Nonetheless, ad experts deploy them as a deliberate attempt to use language in ways that will shock, attract and persuade the audience to accept the message of the ad. Leech (1966) characterizes these behaviours as necessary conditions for advertisers’ literary achievements (175-6) as observed in such examples of advertisement word choices like: kulture, callertunez, 9javaganza. Cook observes that ‘advertising frequently uses language in ways which depart from convention. …but are nevertheless interpretable’ (Cook, 2001:142). This view may be connected to a contextual notion of rhetoric where deviation necessitates and navigates readers into meaning-making potential. In this regard, McQuarrie and Mick (1996) describe rhetoric as ‘an artful deviation’ (3), and further argue that a rhetorical expression occurs when a piece of discourse deviates from expectations. The statement might be neither rejected as nonsensical nor faulty. We might suggest that rhetoric occurs at the level of form (how to say something) rather than content (what to say). If we toe the line of McQuarrie and Mick which claims that rhetoric is an artful deviation from linguistic rules and interface it with the nature of advertising discourse, perhaps, rhetoric and advertising may be regarded are twin-brothers. This study is therefore an attempt to examine the language of etisalat® advertisements in order to understand the nature of choices in terms of the mood system and unique formation of lexemes. The examination of language choice is thus aimed at providing some insight into the understanding of word creation and lexical deployment in etisalat ads. That is, the evaluation of words that etisalat utilizes to persuade subscribers.

Language Choice

In an attempt to explain the notion of Language Choice, the analyst can highlight three specific tendencies. These are: sociolinguistic, stylistic and systemic statuses. In sociolinguistics, the term is alternatively employed either as language choice or choice of language. Buda (2006:1) argues that ‘sociolinguists have been long fascinated by the phenomenon of bilingualism and the complex language switching pattern that accompany it’ According to Buda, a bilingual individual has an opportunity to easily make a language choice that an individual decides to use. A speaker could code-switch from one language to another. Buda maintains that ‘the choice of language is primarily dictated by the milieu in which the speaker finds himself’ (ibid.). The preference that a bilingual gives to a particular choice of language switches to, in Buda’s observation, seems to be determined by the communication environment. He further adds that one could gain ‘more insights into the phenomenon of language choice… by widening the scope of investigation to include polyglots’ (Buda, 2006: 2). The suggestion of Buda redirects our focus to the matter of multilingualism which tends to give room for a complex web of interaction. Perhaps, the model of language choice and its natural tendency in this sphere would depend on the speakers’ linguistic congruity. The view of Putz on the language choice anchors largely on the following: language policy, language planning, personal attitude towards language and domains of users (Putz, 1997: 430).

There are, of course, some other studies (e.g. Donovan, 2012.) that have examined the language choice as word choice and writer’s choice. They seem to orient their arguments principally on stylistics. Writing Center (2013) argues that ‘Writing is a series of choices. …when it is time to write, you have to choose the words you will use to express your ideas and decide how you will arrange those words into sentences’ (1). This perspective points out here that the choice of words selected in writing is central to the purpose intended. This could characterize the ways meanings are constructed in texts to serve a rich variety of purposes (also in Sinclair, 1992:11). A writer may need to choose words that capture what an individual intends to say and convey the same meaning to his audience. Perhaps, a writer chooses his words by putting himself in the reader’s point of view. O’Quinn (2012) suggest that a writer might seek to express the ideas in ways that capture the audience attention and keep the readers engaged (3). To achieve the above, O’Quinn suggests further that the style of the word choice ought to be clear, persuasive and to produce an accurate tone (O’Quinn, 2012:1-4). White sees language choice as the significant word construction a writer makes. She posits that ‘Writing is all about… connections of ideas and connections of emotions even faith’ (White, n.d.). The choice of words, White observes, could make the style of a writer pleasant and functional to the target audience.

The initial reaction of the propagators of SFT to grammar seems to be the making of choices in language. Kress stipulates that ‘SFT is based on the notion of choice’ (Kress, 1976: 3). According to Kress, the theoretical platform in which the Hallidayan grammar rests is that of choice. Based on his view, it may be difficult to engage the systemic function grammar in language analyses without a reference to the concept of choice either explicitly or implicitly. Kress further argues that ‘The speaker of a language… engaging in any kind of culturally determined behavior… carries out, simultaneously successively, a number of distinct choices’ (Kress,  1976: 3). To Kress, the cultural context of which a speaker chooses to communicate his message to the listener or reader is still anchoring on his language choice. It seems that in language communication, choice is central. This is because choice is a linguistic entity that a communicator selects out of a range of other choices available to him/her. It may be possible that if someone has a reason for saying something in a certain situation, by implication, such a speaker could have said something else if the context has been different. In furtherance of this, Bloor and Bloor say that ‘Language consists of a set of systems, which offer the writer an unlimited choice of ways of creating meanings’ (Bloor & Bloor, 2004: 3). According to Bloor and Bloor, there are variations of the choices accessible in the other words in which a writer can choose. It is out of the ‘unlimited’ systemic items that a writer makes choices that necessitate the message. In addition to that, linguistic choices seem to operate at every point of communicative activities. However, the choices are context-related and context-dependent (Bloor & Bloor, 2004:3). Thompson (2004) remarks that:

I have at several points used the term ‘choice’ in discussing meanings. If we want to examine what a piece of language is intending to do (i.e. its function) we cannot avoid thinking in terms of choice. Clearly, speakers do not go around producing decontextualized grammatically correct sentences: they have reasons for saying something, and for saying it in the way they do (p. 8).

A user of language, in Thompson’s opinion, selects his text choices based on the meaning that individual aims at passing to the listener. It could be further mentioned that the language choices are meant to express a clear intention of the communicator. Perhaps, the choices selected by a writer depend on the circumstance or situation at hand and possibly the persons involved in the communication.

The notion of choice in the SFT insight could be connected to the concept of System. The researcher could say that a theoretical term that is quite different from the use of ‘system’ in its ordinary or everyday applications. The System in this study is neither literary nor literally but rather a technical term. Kress (1976: xiii) recognizes System as ‘an enumerated set of choices in a specific context.’ According to Kress, a linguistic system is composed of the items which have possible alternatives in that position and the domain of its utility. Perhaps, by ‘alternatives’ he means that a system of an item provides the possibility of options for a language user carrying out a particular task. The system could then provide any language user an opportunity to willingly choose his structural options. He further suggests that ‘It is the system that formalizes the notion of choice’ (ibid, 3). Kress operationalizes a strong affinity between the concept of System and Choice. Then, one could infer that Choice connects system; system connects choice. It seems that without System Choice could not be in place vice versa. There seems to be a parallel drawn between System and Choice. The analyst can further argue that System and Choice functionally operate jointly in language. Bloor and Bloor (2004) are in support of this by saying that ‘choices are represented as systems and inter-relate with each other through a system network’ (4). The study aims at interpreting the etisalat texts as a system of creativity in terms of structural but meaningful content choices.

In our effort to seek the view of scholars on the subject of Language Choice, we note that SFT scholars (Kress, 1976; Halliday & Matthiessen, 2004; Thompson, 2004; and Eggins, 2004) further oscillate language choice between systemic choice and linguistic choice. Figure 1 below represents the opinions discussed in a systemic model.

Figure 1: Language choices system network (Buda, 2006; Thompson, 2004, etc.)

The diagram above in Figure1 shows that term, language choice, as word choice, writer’s choice, choice of language, systemic choice and linguistic choice. However, for the reason of harmony, we adopted the concept Language Choice in this study in relevance to the SFT’s approach. There is a need to follow the SFT linguists because they seem to be more explicit in handling choice. In addition, they see selections of choices as the paradigms of the language which are termed opposite relations (Eggins, 2004: 191). Above all, SFT attempts further to differentiate between the axis of chain and the axis of choice in the matter of language choice (Eggins, 2004: 193). In consonance with this observation, our domain of study is distinctively the axis of choice. By Language Choice, we set out to refer to a relationship in etisalat textual components that can substitute for each other in their business domain. Following the claims of Eggins above, we might state that the system of a language offers etisalat advertisers an unlimited choice of ways of creating textual meaning in advertising. The system network shown below demonstrates the linguistic options and items within which language dimensions operate.

The language dimension in Figure 2 below demonstrates two perspectives as Kress (1976) argues that ‘The system network is the grammar’ (3). The system is said to operate in the Paradigmatic Order; the choicesthat produce the sequential linearity of the Syntagmatic Order. The Syntagmatic Order is of the horizontal axis which refers to ‘what goes together with what’ (Halliday & Matthiessen, 2004: 22). In contrast, the Paradigmatic Order is of the vertical axis and refers to ‘what goes instead of what’ (ibid, 23). To associate with what Halliday and Matthiessen have claimed that ‘the grammar of a language is represented in the form of system network’ (Halliday & Matthiessen, 2004: 22), the nexuses (morpheme, word, group and clause) are connected to the syntagmatic order in a linear sequence. The paradigmatic order is shown through the linguistic elements of markedness, tense, polarity, etc. in a vertical order. Probably, the nature of choice in language offers unlimited applications as human beings communicate daily for different purposes (Gregory & Carroll, 1978: 76).

Figure 2: Language dimension system network (Eggins, 2004)

Figure 3 below illustrates the language system network demonstrated in Figures 1 and 2 can be illustrated as a holistic entity as shown below in Figure 3. An attempt has been made in the figure 1.3 to harmonize Figures 1 and 2 together to illustrate language choice as an entity that has been narrowed down from several linguistic perspectives to the domain of systemic grammar. There are two important dash lines in the map: (i) a dash-line that links structure to system; and (ii) a dash-line between the choices of markedness and mood.

Figure 3: Holistic language choice system network (Buda, 2006; Halliday & Matthiessen, 2014)

The dash-line in (i) indicates the inseparable connection between the linear sequence of a lexicogrammatical structure and vertical choices of a text. The implication of the dash-line (ii) is that there are other systemic choices available in communicating potential other than those enumerated in the system above.

 Meaning Derivations in Advertising Text  

The notion of textual study could be coherently derived from and not unconnected to the views of Bloor and Bloor (2004) who argue that:

An important feature of a systemic functional approach to linguistic study is its insistence on studying actual instances of language that have been used (or being used) by speakers or writers. …on the whole, we are more likely to arrive at interesting and useful descriptions of English if we investigate authentic texts (p. 5; also in Sinclair, 1992: 18).

According to Bloor and Bloor, language in its communicative approach is highly united with the text which seems to be a priority to SFT. The applications of SFT concepts in a similar measure might provide useful insight into communication through text. We have attempted to examine the text as our object of analysis where the underlying meaning potential has been derived according to users and their domain. Bloor and Bloor (2004:5) further explicates that ‘A text is any stretch of language, regardless of length, that is spoken or written for the purposes of communication by real people in actual circumstances’ (details in Halliday & Hasan, 1976: 1, 293-8, Bex, 1996: 73-79; Fairclough, 2003:3). The concern here is the systematic organization of the advertising text. That is, the language of advertising and the functional instances in a business sphere that connect advertisers with their customers in their socio-cultural environment. Language as a system interfacing with business as a venture of cash generation might have a unique functional variety of discourse that is quite distinct from the others. Halliday and Matthiessen (2004) articulate that:

We are trying to maintain two perspectives at ones. One perspective is that of language as a system; the other perspective is that of language as a text… The system of a language is ‘instantiated’ in the form of text… The system is the underlying potential of a language: its potential as a meaning-making resource (p. 26).

We have attempted to explain in this study, as a textual system. This has been discussed within the framework of discourse. That is, the way language is coherently ordered and socially meaningful with the etisalat ad textual options. The text is the form of language use and arrangement found in the etisalat and the system is the capability that the analyst demonstrates in producing meaning to the target audience. Ravelli (2000) advocates that a functional analysis is not simply a question of labeling but the labels reflect a semantic and grammatical interpretation of a text (37). Language use in ads seems to be a means of creating and maintaining social relationship in transacting businesses one with another. In Yule’s  (1986) point of view;

…it is important not to overlook the social aspect of language because, in many ways, speech is a form of social identity and is used, consciously or unconsciously, to indicate membership of different social groups or different speech communities (Yule, 1986: 190).

An ad communication, in Yule’s (1986) response, may identify strongly with the community in different social strata. The purpose of this intimate identification seems an avenue to easily pass a particular message to the target audience. The means of communication used in a community may include different languages, different regional and social dialects of one or more languages, different register and different channels of communication. In the Nigerian print-media-telecoms ads, readers experience, diverse and new lexicons are creatively generated and published in the dailies often times to build relationships with subscribers. New words are coined. These are in probable appearances of new code formations. New signs are as well formed. Few examples are: ePresence, ur (your), HyNet, Callerztunez, BB (Blackberry), u (you), cr8 (create), gr8 (great), 4 (for), 2 (two or too), 4rm, (from). All these in-turn may become the language of both the etisalat, and their numerous customers. Perhaps, etisalat produces novel text choices in their various ads. Sometimes, the meanings embedded in them are beyond authorial intention as learnt from the standpoint of some linguists thus;

…it is through proper linguistic analysis that ‘intentional fallacy’ could be averted. Saussure emphasized that language is a system which pre-exist the individual speaker (Saussure, [1921] 1974: 12).

Roland Barthes declares that it is language which speaks, not the author; to write… to reach the point where only language acts, ‘performs’, and not ‘me’ (1977: 143). Consequently, Wimsatt and Beardsley (1954) declare that, whilst our intention to communicate and what we intend to communicate are both important to us as individuals, meaning in terms of authorial intention. To define meaning in terms of authorial intention is the so-called ‘intentional fallacy’… An attestation to avoid intentional fallacy is also opined by Claude Levi-Strauss ([1949] 1969) when he says that:

I don’t have the  feeling that I write my books,  I have the feeling that my books get written through me… I never had, and still do not have, the perception of feeling my personal identity. I appear to myself as the place where something is going on, but there is no ‘I’, no ‘me’ (cited in Chandler, 2012, p. 187-188).

According to Chandler, readers, in any case, construct authors.  So, linguistic analyses as ours, might take readers and audience beyond the motives of etisalat advertisers.  What the etisalat advertisers could not see and mean as embedded in their ad frames that we intend to see and mean (Johnstone, 2008: 263-6; Myers, 1994: 192). The applications of linguistic tools and skills might assist a research to transcend beyond the etisalat advertisers’ rationale. This attempt has been exemplified following the groundwork of Hallidayan systemic conceptual framework in terms of its coherent analysis and social relevance. Therefore, we have attempted to examine the language choice that etisalat employ to create relationships with the public.

1.3 Research Question

As an examination of the creative choices that etisalat deploys as persuasion is the focus of the study, it then becomes imperative to ask: How does etisalat utilize creative choices to influence the subscribers? Significantly, the outcome of the question can reveal to readers part of the socio-cultural strategies of advertising features of etisalat communications. 

1.4 Theoretical Framework

We may say that language is a means of communication between, at least two people. By extension, it is suggestible that the main purpose of communication is to interact in order to enact meaning. Kress and van Leuween (2003) argue that language cannot be viewed as a one-way system if a comprehensive analysis is going to be attained (5). Language seems to operate mutually between a speaker and the audience or a writer and the audience to exchange meaning. In support of that Ravelli (2000: 44) reports that, ‘Every act of communication is always an interaction.’ The interaction at any point in time seems to have some content. The content may be for the purpose of influencing the character of a particular personality. It may also be to provide information for somebody. The language choice content may also be for the purpose of explaining things to somebody, etc. in respect of that, the Interpersonal Meafunction provides insights into how to analyze and realize meaning from the exchange produced by the interactants.  The concept, Interpersonal Metafunction, to the study, is a tool for explaining the aspect of ‘lexicogrammatical’ system in a textual interaction. In relation to interpersonal social interaction, Ravelli (2000) observes that:

…language… constructs and conveys some kind of interpersonal relationship… the relevant contextual variable here is Tenor – the role relationships relevant to the situation of the content. The Tenor of the situation reflected in and constructed of the interpersonal meaning of the text: what kind of personal relationship is constructed between the interactants in the situation, the attitudes and opinions expressed, the degree of formality or familiarity and so on (44).

In consonance with Ravelli’s claim, the Interpersonal Metafunction is concerned with the interaction between the speaker and listener(s). It is a grammatical resource for enacting social roles in general, and speech roles in particular, especially in dialogic interaction for establishing, changing and maintaining interpersonal relations. Halliday and Matthiessen distinguish factors which explain interpersonal communication thus:

The most fundamental types of speech role, which lie behind all the more specific type that we may eventually be able to recognize are just two: (i) giving, and (ii) demanding. Either the speaker is giving something to the listener (a piece of information)… or he is demanding something from him…giving means inviting to receive, and demanding means ‘inviting to give’. The speaker is not only doing something himself; he is also requiring something of the listener. Typically, there is an ‘act’ of speaking… something called ‘interact’: it is an exchange, in which giving implies receiving and demanding implies giving in response (Halliday, 1985: 68). Cutting across this basic distinction between giving and demanding is another distinction, equally fundamental, that relates to the nature of the commodity being exchanged. This may be either (a) good – & – services or (b) information   (Halliday & Matthiessen, 2004: 107).

Halliday’s and Matthiessen’s have given rise to the four speech functions labeled as; offer, command, statement and question as illustrated in the diagrams below for further explications. Figure 4 below illustrates the semantic resources of the four speech functions in the domain of the moos system.

Figure 4: MOOD Semantic Resources System (Thompson 2004: 46-7)

From the diagram above, there is an indication overlapping functions within the concepts. The ancillary portion covers the modulated interrogative and the imperative. The constitutive occupies a space for the declarative and interrogative clauses. The interrelationships come up where the modulated interrogative and declarative as objects of offer and statement are employed by a speaker to give invitation to the audience to receive something (Thompson, 2014). We could also observe that the imperative and interrogative are used by the speaker to demand goods and services and information from the audience.

Halliday and Matthiessen (2004) submit that in interpersonal metafunction, ‘the principal grammatical system is that of MOOD’. The MOOD is a technical term and does not have any relationship to the everyday use of “mood” i.e. feeling in a particular way at a particular time. The grammatical MOODS are matched with the speech functions – declarative, imperative, interrogative and modulated interrogative (Eggins, 2004: 153). The speech functions demonstrate the participants’ contributions in the role relationship goings-on. The grammatical MOOD identifies the relevant structure in the system.

The first mood, Halliday and Matthiessen (2014) explain, exemplifies the core ideas of the constituent of a clause that contains the Subject, Finite, Modality, Fused Element and Residue. The second mood illuminates the type of clauses as illustrated below.

In indicative clause:

MOOD System = Subject + Finite     (Subject ^ Finite) e.g. Kunle is good.

Or Finite + Subject     (Finite ^ Subject) e.g. Is Kunle good?

In imperative clause:

MOOD System = S0 + Finite (intrinsic) i.e. ‘hangs in the air’ e.g. Write it. It is argued that:

It is usually relatively easy to identify the subject, and only a little less difficult to identify the Finite, but in cases of doubt (at least in declarative clauses) we can establish exactly what the Subject and Finite of any clause are by adding a tag question (Thompson, 2004: 50).

From Thompson’s view, the Finite is the first functional element among the verbal group. It is most easily recognized in yes/no questions, since it is the auxiliary which comes in front of the subject. In few occasions, the Finite is ‘fused’ with the lexical verb (Thompson 2004:49).


The author selected the etisalat advertising communications from three different domains of the worldwide web, the Punch newspaper and signboard. Toyin and I went around the street of Lagos in search of etisalat billboard that contain ads relevant to the study’s quest. To achieve the mission, Samsung Smart Camera WB50F played a significant role. We used the electronic device to take pictures of the ads from signboards and the newspaper. Nonetheless, etisalat ads were also downloaded from the internet. It was from the quantum of the ads that we selected four ads for this purpose. The ads’ quantity limitation is as a result of the space apportioned to a paper in the journal. The time taken for the research is also a valid point. Before the decision on the choice of ads, the following considerations, among others, were irresistible factors: cognizance was given to ads that are not verbose in terms of clausal arrangements; and ads that contain deviant but rather creative elements.

As the focus of the study is only textual (Cook, 2001), etisalat ads were presented as they appear in disjunctive structures. Besides, we divided into simple clause – as a practice in Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFT) – all the complex clauses in each ad for easily analytical accessibility. So, the total number of the clauses appreciated is thirty-three. That is, Ad1 = 11; Ad 2 = 7; Ad 3 = 11; and Ad 4 = 4. It is upon the clauses that the mood system predicates for processing the textual facilities according to the SFT tradition. In addition to that, we adopted table and bar charts as representational scientific tools. This exercise demonstrates clearly to the readers the functional statuses of the linguistic devices of the mood system and their implications as occur in etisalat communications.

2.1 Data Presentation

AD 1

  1. wwwherever you are
  2. wwwhenever you wwwant
  3. wwwhatever you need
  4. get up to 1GB freeeee!
  5. it’s easy with easynet.
  6. Get the internet plan of your choice with easynet
  7. Get 1 month free bonus data plan when you buy any of our 1.5GB, 3GB or 6GB plans
  8. Bonus available instantly upon purchase
  9. Bonus available in the following months after purchase can be used only on weeknights and weekends
  10. Pick up your easynet data SIM and USB modem at any etisalat experience centre
  11. Text ‘help’ to 229.

AD 2

  1. enjoy the easylife & talk on & on & on!
  2. 25k per sec to any network, anytime
  3. dial *220*1# to enjoy
  4. enjoy 25k per sec calls for an access fee of only N20 per day
  5. All calls to anyone, anytime on any network anywhere in Nigeria at just 25k per sec
  6. Daily access charge N20 only
  7. Available to all easycliq and easystarter subscribers.

AD 3

  1. 9javaganza
  2. enjoy free weekend calls
  3. get 50% of airtime spent
  4. it’s your time to talk
  5. ///From now till March 31, simply make as many calls as you wish to my network on weekends //
  6. and get 50% of the amount you spent to make FREE weekend calls to any etisalat line!///
  7.  And you get this week after week after week.
  8. ///So pick up your 0809ja phone //and start calling!///
  9.  It’s your time to talk! Offer opens to all new and existing easystarter and easycliq subscribers.

AD 4

  1. your favorite club
  2. your favorite network, ETISALAT the winning team
  3. Enjoy the best of both worlds with Etisalat and Barcelona
  4. etisalat, official international partner of FC BARCELONA

2.2 Data Analysis


Figure 4 represents the mood system analysis of the four etisalat ad texts.

Figure 4 illustrates the analysis of the etisalat texts in four distinct parameters. (i) The moodless records the highest point of 18 – indicating that there are numerous disjunctive structures as persuasive elements. (ii) The mood has 15 points – showing that declarative clauses function adequately in the ads. (iii) The imperative is valued at 14 – pointing the readers to a situation where commands are also properly utilized. Figure 4 points to elliptical declarative as being nine. This operation has a link with the moodless. In the same terrain, full declarative and imperative contribute immensely to the mood choice in the tale. Therefore, the information in Figure 4 demonstrates that etisalat ads communicate strategically through disjunctive texts, issuance of statements and commands. These are pungent, concise and economical textual behaviors that influence subscribers.


It could be mentioned that there is often no word on the mind of an advertising specialist than creativity. Practitioners tend to work creatively on creative campaigns. When the individual is not engaged in creative planning, it might be said that s/he is thinking on creative ideas (Leech, 1966: 175). The major task before etisalat® advertisers is to capture the audience. For them to be consistently maintaining the relationship with the audience their language choices must be loaded with creative and imaginative skills. Repetition of ad paralinguistic and linguistic materials alone may not help matters. Then, creativity becomes a must. It is based on this that etisalat advertisers are navigated into logical/illogical creativity and imagination that are linguistically interpretable or mutilated.

Out of the clauses in Ad 1, six of them operationalize in the mood system. They are: you are; you wwwant; and you need. As you are plays a status role, you wwwant and you need point to the psychological desires of subscribers. It’s, you buy and bonus available in the following months … can be are also mood facilities of interpersonal metafunction. In that sense, Subjects and Finites here construct relationships with interactants in present simple tense forms indicating the consistency of patronage that etisalat requires from the target audience. There are some strange coinages such as; ‘wwwherever you are’; ‘wwwhenever you wwwant’; and ‘wwwhatever you need’, ‘it’s easy with easynet.’ The study attends to them because they are deviant (Cook, 2001).

The italicized language choices are what we could simply call, linguistic allusions of very strong terms. Obviously, one could hardly rehearse that allusions of this format could happen in word formations. These again are wwwherever, wwwhenever, wwwhatever and wwwant in some etisalat ad frames. The reasoning could be easily explained, in the sense that, the ad is about the use of the internet. And the internet is, in other words, known as the worldwide web. The worldwide web is also technically coined as www which precedes almost all the websites on the net. Etisalat advertising enthusiasts just wired the www up to their message by connecting it to all the four words starting with w in the ads i.e. wherever, whenever, want and whatever. The simple reason is that, anyone who sights the etisalat ads with recurring w seem to have a full idea of the message etisalat passes across. With all these strange ideas as observed, we can, perhaps, say that the textual choice of etisalat advertisers is linguistically biased and textually unpredictable. It suggests that anything can happen in etisalat ads to persuade consumers.

Strange Structural Appearance (Ad 1):

wwwherever = [www + where +ever];

wwwhenever = [www + when + ever]

wwwant = [www + want];

wwwhatever = [www+ what + ever]

Furthermore, etisalat calls the audience to travel the world nights and weekends in ad 1 for free and get up to 1GB freeeee! with easynet recharged. Anything that is given free does not attract any payment. In this case there is a free offer that is obtainable and enjoyable only when a subscriber recharges his etisalat line. It means that the free recharge etisalat campaign is not a gift at all. It is a contradiction in the side of the etisalat advertiser. Strange though, the poetic license of advertising practitioners has made it a right to feature free as freeeeee. These are alarming lexemes! Apart from advertising, these linguistic aberrations are acceptable English words either in Nigeria or outside it. World is world; and free is free anywhere in the world, but to etisalat advertisers there is a free world in which their linguistic choices are exercised. Another formation we have is easynet. This is a compound word in the etisalat world of creativity and can be realized thus, [easy + net = easynet]. The textual strange appearances serve as persuasive stimuli in the etisalat realm of communications.

Strange Structural Appearance (Ad 1):

Freeeeee = [free + eee];

easynet = [easy + net]

Ad 2 displays another compound word, that is, easylife in enjoy the easylife & talk on. Easylife can be realized thus, [easy + life = easylife]. We have also noticed some grammatical omissions/errors in this etisalat language choice. There is, dial *220*1# to enjoy. In this clause, to enjoy has no object bearing in mind that it is used transitively. There must be something to enjoy. It could be re-written as, dial *220*1# to enjoy this package. Though, it seems declarative, another error is found in Daily access charge N20 only. There is no verbal element in this clause. It means that the clause is not functional grammatically. It could have been written as; Daily access charge [is] N20 only. The elliptical essence of the structure is to swallow the Finite. This is because it seems not part of the message. At this juncture, we need to be reminded that advertisers deploy some of their communications in nominal groups (Leech, 1966). The last grammatical error in this ad is All calls to anyone, anytime on any network anywhere in Nigeria at just 25k per sec. the clause has the Subject in the Modal element of the etisalat component choices but there is no Finite, yet, the also has the Complement. How can this clause be functionally appropriate when the Finite is has been ellipted. The clause word choices would have been put thus: All calls to anyone, anytime on any network anywhere in Nigeria is at just 25k per sec. The inappropriate compounding of word processes and elliptical items project simply to attract the public. As a reader is wondering about the structural segmentations of the ad s/he is systematically unknowingly consuming the message of the ads. That is what the copywriters want to archive. That is, distract and inform.

Strange Structural Appearance (Ad 2):

Easylife = [easy + life]

Easystarter = [ease + y + start + er]

The mood system relevance of Ad 3 relates to its clause 4, clause 7, clause 10 and clause 11. Clauses four and ten express relational notions in a certain time space as a means of sensitizing subscribers. Clauses seven and eleven address what subscribers are supposed to do so that the etisalat airtime can be accessible to them to them anywhere they are. In other words, the mood system accommodated as Subject and Finite demonstrate a clear wave of availability of etisalat’s services to the public. There is this formation, 9javaganza. 9javaganza could be elucidated in the following sequence, Nigeriavaganza = Nigeriaextravaganza = 9jaextravaganza. None of these sequences can be abandoned in the linguistic space. The second sequence in the etisalat ad has a linguistic undertone but cannot be a compound word. It should contain two separate words, that is, Nigeria and extravaganza. Semantically, etisalat intend to seduce the audience with the choice of 9javaganza created. The message is contained in …vaganza which is an abstraction from extravaganza. The message is that etisalat is doing a very elaborate and excessive thing for consumers, which they are encouraged to be a part of. Etisalat also indicates that the customers should get 50% of airtime spent. This, if it is true, is amazingly extravagant indeed. Nigeria extravaganza is re-coined as 9javaganza. 0809ja and 9ja are frequently used in numerous etisalat ad language choices which include ad 3. We will also express these under morphological exercises. In realizing 0809ja we have [0809 + ja = 0809ja], and 9ja can be realized as [9 + ja = 9ja]. Apart from using the alphanumeric in a particular telecommunications context, the linguistic shorthand seems meaningful. The combination of number-cum-alphabet is not strange. The etisalat combinatory allusions could bring about linguistic developments.

Strange Structural Appearance (Ad 3):

9javaganza = 9[Ni] + ja[geria] + [extra]vaganza

0809ja = [080 +9(Ni) + ja(geria)]

There are no mood systemic structures in Ad 4. All the structures in it are disjunctively organized. They contain the following inscriptions; enjoy the best of both worlds etisalat and fcbarcelona, your favorite club and your favorite network. These statements have created a relationship that inter-twinned three phenomena: etisalat subscribers; FC Barcelona in Spain; and etisalat network. The football lovers know the crop of professional football stars in FC Barcelona, the likes of Lionel Messi, David Villa, Puyol, Xavi, etc. The etisalat team has used what the football followers enjoy in watching these players play to connect its flow to the etisalat network. The feeling is, the pleasant feelings derive from watching FC Barcelona team play is the same when using the etisalat network to make calls. There is a morphological misappropriation in writing the name of the club. It is written fcbarcelona instead of F.C.B. (as an acronym) or FC Barcelona whatever the case may be, it is about one of the linguistic textual distortions in the advertising creativity. The motivation of playing on linguistic concepts, processes and rules informs the characteristic manners of advertising playing on words in order to attract, convince and sustain consumers’ loyalty to goods and services.


From the foregoing, it can be argued that the etisalat advertiser is dynamic in creating texts. We observe creativity the grand style of constructions. However, most of their formations are arbitrarily formed in contrast to grammatical rules of morphology. For instance there are  words like: wwwant, freeeee and 9javaganza in the clause choices. To a considerable extent, some of the creative exercises are not to be found within the English language word-stock. The study reveals that Etisalat advertisement copy writers sometimes deviate from linguistic rules, but they  are  quite consistent in creating novel and unique words. Two patterns have been observed in this language creativity: [i] combinations of letters in a unique way e.g. easynet, easylife, etc. which we could tag creative fallacy and [ii] the formations of letter and number combinations  e.g. 9ja, 9javaganza known as alphanumeric codes. Besides that the creativity in etisalat ads can enhance language development, it also can serve as a challenge to advertising practitioners in order to improve upon their creativity potency. This language behavior can also inspire academic activities in generating new corpuses as well as producing a dictionary of advertising terminologies from the Nigerian context.


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