Semiotics and Narrative Congruence

Leveraging consumer insights through product placement

Charles Leech
Qualitative ABM Research Ltd., Canada

Kevin September
Premier Entertainment, Canada


Narrative congruence can be defined as the connotative symmetry that arises when a plurality of texts communicates similar, or complimentary, information to the consumer. Achieving narrative congruence is an intertextual process that is deeply tied to the notion of “metasemiotics” (Eco, 1986: 210) in its ability to affect brand positioning and brand equity.

In its widest definition, intertextuality refers to the use of or reference to a ‘text’ in the course of another given text. These texts can be films, television programs, novels, poems, top 40 hits, operas, or even cultural texts such as a company board meeting or Bondi Beach (Fiske, 1989a: 17). The existence of intertextuality in popular culture (indeed, in all culture) is undeniable, and dates back to the invention of discourse. In the arts, clear evidence of intertextuality can be found in films by semiotically saturated directors such as Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs), Martin Scorsese (Casino), and Oliver Stone (Natural Born Killers); in popular television programmes such as South Park,The Simpsons and Seinfeld; and in popular music and videos by groups such as Garbage, Radiohead, U2, and R.E.M.