Pragmatics in the service of marketing: The case of COVID-19 semi-commercial public signs

Spyridoula Bella*, Eva Ogiermann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study adopts a cross-cultural perspective and investigates the ways in and the extent to which the pragmatic choices made by the authors of COVID-19 signs announcing business closures in the UK and in Greece could reflect the Relationship Marketing approach. The data for the study comes from a large corpus of COVID-19 related public signs that appeared in London and Athens between 2020 and 2022. The analysis of the data focuses on the extent to which the relationship between the businesses and the customers is treated as personal and intimate. To this end three types of pragmatic choices are examined in detail: (i) (in)directness and (in)formality of directives used on the signs, (ii) conveyance of emotions, and (iii) the extent to which future encounters and transactions with the customers are thematised. The analysis shows that the pragmatic choices of UK sign authors reflect the Relationship Marketing approach to a far greater extent than those of their Greek counterparts. This finding is discussed in the light of observed cultural differences and the possible impact of Relationship Marketing on language use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-53
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


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