The advertisement as literary genre

The argument may be made that a “picture-with-text” commercial advertisement in a magazine or on a poster may sometimes be considered an art form in its own right. Leo Spitzer, an eminent philologist/linguist, in the late 1940s bolstered that argument, invoking art history primarily, but did not really continue this line of investigation. Here, after examples of verse and short fiction in pictorial advertising are given, an attempt will be made to present certain eye-catching advertisements as examples of a separate literary genre, based on these criteria: (1) a powerfully suggestive icon or symbolic picture is offered, (2) something is left out of the big picture, which the viewer makes up for with an enlarged interpretation, (3) the advertisement generates a whole range of ideas beyond what is immediately perceived. A “classic” example of such a literay-genre ad is suggested in this paper.