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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton August 16, 2019

Branding City Destinations

A comparative analysis of the multimodal discourse in Beijing and London publicity films

Qian Wang and Dan Zhang
From the journal Chinese Semiotic Studies


City branding brings immense benefits for megacities to gain international prestige in an increasingly competitive global arena. City publicity films, as an effective method for selling the city through online dissemination, could reach and influence a wider audience. However, the deployment of different semiotic resources in the branding discourse in city publicity films remains under-explored, and in particular, the role of cultural attributes in the construction of meaning in the discourse of city branding through linguistic and nonverbal modalities remains unknown. This paper, drawing on theories of systemic functional grammar and visual grammar, examines the multimodal discourse of publicity films of Beijing and London in terms of representational and interactive meanings achieved through various semiotic resources. It is found that, in verbal and visual discourse, both films share similarities regarding enhancing persuasiveness via emotional branding but exhibit differences regarding how to achieve persuasiveness through different semiotic resources that co-construct meaning. The Beijing publicity film blends functional and emotional values while the London publicity film is prone to being more functional. In addition, possible reasons for the differences observed are discussed.


We would like to thank all the editors, especially the Associate Editor Catherine Schwerin for her comments and editing work for this manuscript.

  1. Funding: This study is funded by Teaching Reform Project of NWPU2018; Higher Education Research Fund of NWPU (G2018KY0207); Philosophical and Social Science Project of Hainan Province (HNSK(QN) 16-131).


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Published Online: 2019-08-16
Published in Print: 2019-08-27

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