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Analysis of Advertising Discourse
Even though advertising is a worldwide practice and its benefits are equally appreciated by marketers from all around the world, the advertisement techniques and approaches differ from one culture to another. The differences may be based on ethnic, cultural, religious peculiarities of the countries, their typical lifestyles, values, and worldviews. This paper explores three different advertisements taken from various cultures. In order to secure a better understanding of the advertisements, they were selected based on the products they promote. The chosen advertisements focus on three different but very well-known brands. The paper analyses the advertisement of McDonald’s from China, the advertisement of IKEA from Italy, and the advertisement of Coca Cola from India.
The advertisement analyzed in the paper is a part of a digital campaign. Its slogan can be translated as “McDonald’s: Happiness is 0 burdens” (McDonald’s China: ‘Happiness is 0 burdens’ by Xu Jinglei par. 8). The immediate associations are togetherness, happiness, youth. A-I-D-A concept is applied in this advertisement, and it targets the viewers, attention, interest, desire, and action (AIDA: Attention-Interest-Desire-Action par. 3). To attract attention to a Chinese celebrity, Jane Wu is used, the interest is provoked by means of introducing many participants – all of the white-collar workers who share their ideas of happiness. To make the customers desire the product, the advertisement associates happiness and lightheartedness with McDonald’s. This way, consumption of the product is viewed as a key to “0 burdens”.
Men and women introduced in the advertisement are Chinese. They are young, good looking, and hardworking. The participants radiate happiness and serenity. The advertisement has two opinion leaders – a celebrity and a peer. Only young people are featured, which gives a clear idea of the target audience. The advertisement is expected to attract the recipients through the image of young, happy, and beautiful people. Since all of the participants are white-collar workers, the advertisements were likely to be placed in the business parts of the Chinese cities where office employees usually work and have lunch.
The slogan employs a metaphor and omits information about the connection between McDonald’s’ products and happiness. The connection is implied since all of the happy people are shown in the McDonald’s restaurants having their meals. The advertisement employs one of the Chinese languages.
The Chinese national identity is omitted in the advertisement. Instead, it provides an image of rather westernized people. It is noticeable that American influence is strong in China, and the whole idea of the advertisement is based on the fact that being similar to American people is a goal. This is an outcome of globalization in China. Culturally, the concept of hardworking person typical for China is supported, although this concept, along with the concepts of youth, beauty, and lightheartedness are applicable across cultures.
The second advertisement comes from Italy and promotes the products of IKEA. The advertisement portrays a photo of two men from behind; they are holding hands. The slogan says, “We are open to all families.” The advertisement immediately attracts attention by the fact that it features a homosexual couple. This way, it wins the interest of the audience. The provided support would encourage homosexual couples to desire the product and the other individuals who support the idea promoted by the brand – to show favor, since, in the advertisement, IKEA associates itself with diversity and tolerance. The brand establishes its openness to diverse customers.
The associations it triggers are diversity, open-mind, contemporary approach, support. The advertisement shifts a stereotype of a family as a male-female union and presents two males. Both men are white and relatively young. The advertisement targets the homosexual community featuring peer figures and promotes tolerance and unity. The advertisement received a negative reaction from the Catholic community in Italy (Pisa, par. 4).
As a genre, this commercial is controversial. It brings up a sensitive subject and is risky due to this because initially, it is impossible to predict what kind of public reaction it may cause (Advertising Genres par. 7). The language used in the slogan is simple and does not employ any stylistic devices, but it does contain intertextuality. It implies that IKEA, as a brand, targets families as its main customers and does not differentiate between the kinds of families.
Cultural and national identities are not emphasized in the advertisement. The men featured in it are wearing standard clothing and have rather typical western appearances. The impact of globalization in this advertisement can be seen in its emphasis on social diversity, which is a rather natural outcome of the tolerance movement that has been promoted actively over the last couple of decades. At the same time, the concepts of tolerance and diversity are worldwide; the motif of family and love also can be applied across the cultures.
Coca Cola (India)
The print advertisement for Coca Cola features an Indian married couple and a woman serving them glasses with Coca Cola on a tray. The slogan of this advertisement says, “Serve guests great taste.” The immediate associations triggered by the picture are family, friendship, hospitality, good time. The characters depicted in the picture are of different ages – the couple is older, and the girl who is serving Coca Cola is youthful. Both female characters are wearing recognizable national Indian clothes.
All of the characters are clearly Indian. This way, one may determine that the advertisement targets Indian people of various ages who embrace their culture and recognize the importance of hospitality. Coca Cola product here is associated with hospitality, it is welcomed by the guests in the picture, and it makes the lady who is serving it happy. The opinion leaders in the advertisement are peers. The picture encourages buying the product as it is positioned as something any guest would be glad to see on the table. The advertisement employs traditional stereotypes about the Indian culture: hospitality, female hostess, family, national outfits (Tewari par. 4). Such an advertisement is appropriate, almost at any crowded location.
The print advertisement does not look like a photograph but resembles a painted picture. This way, its genre can be recognized as retro. The slogan uses one metaphor, saying, “serve guests great taste” it implies that a taste can be served as if it is a physical matter. Besides, it silently associates the product, Coca Cola with great taste. This way, a modern element is added to an otherwise traditional picture.
The national and cultural identities of India are communicated very clearly in the advertisement. The main elements making it visible are the way the characters are dressed, how they are seated (the older characters are helped out by, the younger one), and the kind of values that are promoted in the picture. Yet, the presence of one of the symbols of western capitalism – a product of a global corporation is a sign that globalization has impacted the traditional Indian society regardless of its attempts to preserve its authenticity. The advertisement employs such motifs as family, hospitality, respect for the older generation, and embracing innovations. These motifs are applicable across cultures and can be found anywhere in the world.
To sum up, the analyses of all three advertisements demonstrates that cultural and national impacts are very important influences in the world of marketing. This is why the skillful and appropriate use of the national elements can strengthen the campaign and attract more attention. National and cultural features as very important aspects of a human personality since nationality and ethnicity share our self-identification. Addressing these elements, marketers make their campaigns more individual and personalized, as if customized for a whole culture.
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In conclusion, even though cultural diversity was obvious in each of the three advertisements, it is important to notice that the factor of globalization and its influence was visible in each of them as well. This means that globalization is worldwide, and it affects each nation one way or another. Yet, it is only natural for the representatives of different cultures to try and preserve their authenticity and avoid getting dissolved within some other culture. This way, the Chinese advertisement of McDonald’s was a little disappointing due to the level of its westernization. It was designed by a well-known Chinese actress, but it showed very little signs of cultural specificity, it might as well have been an American campaign featuring American office employees, the whole idea, form, music, and structure were highly westernized.
AIDA: Attention-Interest-Desire-Action. Mindtools. 2015. Web.
Advertising Genres. Worldpress. n. d. Web.
McDonald’s China: ‘Happiness is 0 burdens’ by Xu Jinglei. Worldpress. 2010. Web.
Pisa, Nick. ‘We are open to all families‘: IKEA provokes outrage in Italy after creating advert with gay couple holding hands. 2011. Web.
Tewari, Saumya. No Formalities, This is Coke. 2014. Web.