MASCOTS AS SEMIOTIC COMMUNICATION IN TOURISM PROMOTION: A CASE OF THAILAND
The objective of this research was to examine semiotic communication through mascot aimed at promoting Thailand’s tourism based on the theory of semiotics and the concept of mascots. Qualitative research was adopted with content analysis. The population was 20 mascots that had been constructed to promote tourism in Thailand.
The findings could be divided into two respects of semiotics: the signifier and the signified. With respect to the signifier, it was found that there were five characteristics of mascots: appearance, dress code, personality, referent/object, and others. For appearance, there were 13 mascots that used animals to promote tourism in Thailand. Moreover, the dress code was another characteristic that had been found in those mascots. Such dress code included ethnic wear, combat uniform, and Thai loincloth (Pha-Khao-Ma in Thai). The third characteristic of mascots was personality; it was found that most mascots were cheerful, friendly, and lovely. For the characteristic of referent/object, the concept of local animals was mainly applied. For other characteristics, it was found that most of the mascots came in a single form rather than in a couple of forms. In terms of the signified, both denotative and connotative were found in those mascots. The first one was analyzed by comparing appearances and physical characteristics that the mascots were conveying the messages while the latter required that the receivers interpreted the messages from their experiences.