We have brought together an exciting group of professionals and researchers working in the field of creativity and communication. We will add more details to this programme, so keep an eye on it!


7.30 – 9.30. RISE AND SHINE! (companies & academics)

Room: G03 (Lecture theatre)

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Business-relevant presentations plus networking time for companies and academics. Breakfast & refreshments included.


9.30 – 10. Freshly brewed tea& coffee

10 – 13. HOW DOES CREATIVITY WORK? (everyone welcome)

Room: G03 (Lecture theatre)

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A series of interactive discussions with academics working on creativity in different forms of communication. Freshly brewed tea& coffee provided.



Paula P Sobrino & Jeannette Littlemore (University of Birmingham): Figurative Language in a Global Market

Metaphor and metonymy are key tools in communication, particularly when abstract ideas or emotions are discussed. While a number of studies have explored the role played by metaphor and metonymy in language and images, and the ways in which they are understood, few studies have investigated the combination of metaphor and metonymy in the multimodal context of advertising, where they play a key role. We assess the responses given to 30 advertisements (containing different levels of figurative complexity) by 90 participants from three linguistic and cultural backgrounds (English, Spanish, and Chinese). We focus on variation in the types of interpretations provided by participants with different linguistic and cultural backgrounds, with different levels of experience with marketing, and with different levels of ‘need for cognition’.



Marianna Bolognessi (Metaphor Lab,The Netherlands) : Advertising non-tangible products using visual metaphors

Visual metaphors are highly structured images in which pairs of concepts are visually compared in a metaphorical way. In advertising, where visual metaphors are typically used, the two compared concepts are often both concrete: a bottle of mouthwash might be compared to a grenade, a powerful car engine might be compared to a rhino, etc. However, when the product is not tangible (for example, in social campaigns, such as anti-alcoholism), the viewer has to infer what the targeted service is, looking at an image that shows only entities that can be depicted and are therefore very concrete (for example, an empty bottle). In other genres, such as political cartoons and artworks, it is even more common to have abstract concepts (such as ‘democracy’, ‘immigration’, ‘love’) cued by concrete, visually representated concepts. In this presentation I explore and illustrate in a qualitative fashion how abstract concepts are expressed by visual means, through different types of representations that vary in terms of conventionality.



Christian Burgers (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam,The Netherlands): Creativity in Figurative Frames

In public discourse, many social actors use figurative frames (e.g., metaphor, hyperbole, irony) to persuade the audience. Consider Donald Trump’s metaphorical promise to ‘drain the swamp’ or the use of the divorce metaphor in the Brexit negotiations. In this talk, I will introduce and discuss the role of creativity in such figurative frames, and will discuss empirical evidence from a number of studies that have recently been carried out in the ‘Figurative Framing’ theme in the Metaphor Lab Amsterdam.



Matteo Fuoli (University of Birmingham): Trust management strategies in business discourse

Trust is a valuable strategic asset for business organizations, but it is also a fickle and fragile thing. Companies therefore need to undertake efforts to build trust with stakeholders and to restore it, if broken. In this talk, I will present the findings of a project that combines quantitative and qualitative methods of linguistic analysis to investigate how companies use discourse as a strategic tool to manage the trust of relevant audiences.


13 – 14. Free lunch provided

14 – 16.30. ALL HANDS ON DECK!

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Choose one of the three hands-on workshops in each session to explore how creativity works.

14 – 15. SESSION 1 (everyone welcome, up to 20 slots per workshop)

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 17.43.23Jeannette Littlemore & Paula P Sobrino (University of Birmingham): Advertising around the world

Room: G03 (Lecture theatre)

In this workshop we will explore differences between customers according to their cultural background. This involves addressing the role of embodied metaphor in branding, the link between embodied metaphor and emotions, and the link between metaphor. Additionally, we aimed to strengthen a critical and conscious consumer attitude.



David Houghton (University of Birmingham): Advertising efficacy, word-of-mouth and viral marketing 

Room: 111 (Seminar room 2)

In this workshop, we will discuss the theory behind the effectiveness of advertising, the generation and spread of word-of-mouth marketing content, and the concept of viral marketing in a fun, interactive way. Using marketing stimuli to engage participants and challenge their understanding of ‘good’ advertising, this workshop will demonstrate effectiveness through visual metaphors, advertisements and linguistic analysis demonstrating the success and failure of emotion, excitement and metaphor in marketing campaigns.

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 17.46.36


Marianna Bolognessi (Metaphor Lab,The Netherlands): Metaphorical brains at play

Room: 112 (Seminar room 3)

When we read a metaphor or we see a metaphorical image, we try to make sense of the comparison by using our knowledge about the concepts that the metaphor compares. But to what extent do we agree about the “correct” interpretation of a metaphor expressed through words or through images? And for which modality and genres it is easier to achieve an agreement about the “correct” interpretation? In this workshop the participants will be paired in teams of two players, and they will be shown metaphors expressed by words and by images. The game consists in finding a common interpretation of a given metaphor as fast as possible, in order to go to the next metaphor. Players will read or look at a metaphor and without talking to each other they have to write down keywords to unravel the meaning of the metaphor, and hope that the other player wrote at least one same keyword. The team that achieves agreement on the interpretation for the largest amount of metaphors wins. The results will be then discussed together.

15.30 – 16.30. SESSION 2 (everyone welcome, up to 20 slots per workshop). Register here.

bodo & paula


Bodo WinterPaula P Sobrino (University of Birmingham): Tasting with your ears: sound symbolism in advertising

Room: G03 (Lecture theatre)

Sound symbolism can be used to gauge customers’ expectations about the sensory qualities of products. In this workshop we will explore the notion of iconicity and sound symbolism, and how this can be useful for marketers and advertisers. We will present our study on soju advertising, a very popular Korean spirit. When Korean speakers down a shot of soju, they may either utter kha or kheu. The contrast between these two sounds has been used strategically by Korean advertisers to signal the soft qualities of new soju brands. Here, we show that even naïve American English listeners who have little or no knowledge of Korean culture make meaning inferences about these sounds that are consistent with soju advertising campaigns inside Korea. This suggests that associations between alcohol-accompanying vocal gestures and sensory qualities may be cross-culturally shared. With this and other examples we would like to discuss the relevant role of  sound symbolism in engaging the senses of customers in sensory marketing strategies, and its implications in the global marketplace.




Christian Burgers (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands): How creative is your metaphorical thinking?

Room: 111 (Seminar room 2)

In public discourse and in daily life, many conventional expressions (e.g., talking about cancer in terms of a war) are metaphoric. Yet, in some cases, such conventional frames can be brought to the forefront through creative expressions. In this workshop, we will analyze the creativity of our group. Are we all creative among similar lines, or does each of us develop their own unique perspective? Come in and find out!


Matteo Fuoli (University of Birmingham): Testing the persuasiveness of business communication

Room: 112 (Seminar room 3)

The aim of this hands-on session is to introduce some basic concepts and principles of experimental design that can be used to develop experiments to test the effectiveness of different communication strategies empirically. Together, we will work through the various stages involved in the planning and execution of an experiment, including the creation of the experimental stimuli, the development of questionnaires to measure the participants’ reactions, and the analysis of the data.

16.30 – 18.30. Pizza party & drinks!