A SEMIOTIC ANALYSIS OF THE MISSISSIPPI... BELIEVE IT! CAMPAIGN POSTERS: GEO-BRANDING AND IMAGE REPAIR STRATEGIES

Open Access
Author:
Verderosa-Ishakarah, Ashanti Tashi
Graduate Program:
Media Studies
Degree:
Master of Arts
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
June 28, 2010
Committee Members:
  • Kevin J Hagopian, Thesis Advisor
  • Anthony Olorunnisola, Thesis Advisor
  • Russell Frank, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • image
  • stereotypes
  • posters
  • semiotic analysis
  • Mississippi
  • geo-branding
  • rhetorical analysis
  • tourism
Abstract:
Abstract Mississippi has long been a victim of negative media coverage and stereotypical representations. The effects of this framing during the Civil Rights era and the stories of the state’s notorious segregationist history portrayed in popular film and media still serve as current references for those who are not familiar with Mississippi on a first-hand basis. This thesis explores the semiotic and rhetorical strategies of 17 posters from a non-profit public relations campaign collection titled, Mississippi… Believe It! Also, this form of semiotic analysis seeks to uncover how these campaign posters use visual and textual messages to combat historical stereotypes and myths about Mississippi in an effort to “re-brand” the state. This thesis investigates how an emerging exercise of geo-branding can be used to project a new local and national image of Mississippi. This study identified several persuasive communication tactics, rhetorical techniques, and images embedded in the campaign posters and how they challenge stereotypical discourses as a way to manipulate Mississippi’s destination image and shape tourism and socio-cultural identity as perceived by Mississippians and outsiders. Though this thesis finds that Mississippi’s stereotypical characterizations may not be either immutable or reversed by these posters, this campaign is considered as part of a wider discursive framework in image and tourism studies. In addition, the methodological framework chosen for this thesis contributes to several fields of study including: image building, tourism and travel, advertising, and geo-branding from a critical cultural perspective. Also, this thesis provides a structured model for conducting a semiotic analysis on a text that contains both textual and visual images.