How brands highlight country of origin in magazine advertising

Aichner (2014) proposes a classification of ways in which brands communicate their country of origin (COO). The current, exploratory study is the first to empirically investigate the frequency with which brands employ such COO markers in magazine advertisements. An analysis of about 750 ads from the British, Dutch, and Spanish editions of Cosmopolitan showed that the prototypical ‘made in’ marker was rarely used, and that ‘COO embedded in company name’ and ‘use of COO language’ were most frequently employed. In all, 36% of the total number of ads contained at least one COO marker, underlining the importance of the COO construct.

  • Hornikx, J., Meurs, F. van, Janssen, A., & Heuvel, J. van den (2020). How brands highlight country of origin in magazine advertising: A content analysis.  Journal of Global Marketing, 33 (1), 34-45.  
  • Foreign languages in advertising

    This book presents a comprehensive account of the use and effects of foreign languages in advertising. Based on consumer culture positioning strategies in marketing, three language strategies are presented: foreign language display to express foreignness, English to highlight globalness, and local language to appeal to ethnicity (for instance, Spanish for Hispanics in the USA). The book takes a multidisciplinary approach, integrating insights from both marketing and linguistics, presenting both theoretical perspectives (e.g., Communication Accommodation Theory, Conceptual Feature Model, Country-of-origin effect, Markedness Model, Revised Hierarchical Model) and empirical evidence from content analyses and experimental studies. The authors demonstrate that three concepts are key to understanding foreign languages in advertising: language attitudes, language-product congruence, and comprehension. The book will appeal to students and researchers in the fields of sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, psycholinguistics, marketing and advertising.

    Hornikx, J., & Meurs, F. van (2020). Foreign languages in advertising: Linguistic and marketing perspectives. Cham: Palgrave MacMillan. [link]

    Adapting advertising appeals to individualism or collectivism: The role of thought activation


    Research into international advertising has shown culturally adapted value appeals to be more persuasive and better liked than non-adapted value appeals, especially when they appeal to the individualism–collectivism dimension. The exception to this observation is in Europe, where, despite significant cultural differences across the continent, such effects have not been identified. This study replicates the material from a previous, highly successful study, and adds a qualitative part to the study. Dutch participants completed a cognitive response task, placed either before or after the main dependent measures, to investigate whether inviting participants to think actively about an advertisement may lead to value activation and consequently to cultural value adaptation effects. The results indicate that cultural value adaptation has no effect on liking or persuasion, even when the cognitive response task occurred before the main dependent measures. This study adds to a growing body of literature indicating that Western Europeans do not consider advertisements adapted to the individualism–collectivism dimension to be more persuasive than non-adapted advertisements; likewise, Western Europeans do not prefer them over non-adapted advertisements.

    • Janssen, A., & Hornikx, J. (2019). Adapting advertising appeals to individualism or collectivism: the role of thought activation. Journal of Cultural Marketing Strategy, 4 (1), 13-28. [link]

    Combining anecdotal and statistical evidence in real-life discourse

    The persuasiveness of anecdotal evidence and statistical evidence has been investigated in a large number of studies, but the combination of anecdotal and statistical evidence has hardly received research attention. The present experimental study therefore investigated the persuasiveness of this combination. It also examined whether the quality of anecdotal evidence affects persuasiveness, and to what extent people comprehend the combination of anecdotal and statistical evidence. In an experiment, people read a realistic persuasive message that was relevant to them. Results showed that anecdotal evidence does not benefit from the inclusion of statistical evidence, nor from its intrinsic quality. The analysis of readers’ cognitive thoughts showed that only a minority of participants comprehended the relationship between anecdotal and statistical evidence.

    • Hornikx, J. (2018). Combining anecdotal and statistical evidence in real-life discourse: Comprehension and persuasion. Discourse Processes, 55 (3), 324-336.

    How many laypeople holding a popular opinion are needed to counter an expert opinion?

    In everyday situations, people regularly receive information from large groups of (lay) people and from single experts. Although lay opinions and expert opinions have been studied extensively in isolation, the present study examined the relationship between the two by asking how many lay people are needed to counter an expert opinion. A Bayesian formalisation allowed the prescription of this quantity. Participants were subsequently asked to assess how many lay people are needed in different situations. The results demonstrate that people are sensitive to the relevant factors identified for determining how many lay opinions are required to counteract a single expert opinion. People’s assessments were fairly good in line with Bayesian predictions.

    • Hornikx, J., Harris, A., & Boekema, J. (2018). How many laypeople holding a popular opinion are needed to counter an expert opinion? Thinking and Reasoning, 24 (1), 117-128.

    The influence of high-/low-context culture on perceived ad complexity and liking

    According to Hall’s context theory, people from different cultures may react differently to complex messages. The current study is the first empirical examination of context theory’s role on message comprehension and appreciation. In a comparative survey-based study (N = 289), Belgian and Dutch participants judged 12 complex product advertisements with visual metaphors. As expected by context theory, perceived complexity was lower for Belgian (a higher-context culture) than for Dutch participants (a lower-context culture), and participants’ personal context culture score fully accounted for this difference. Similarly, ad liking was higher for Belgian than for Dutch participants, and again this difference was explained by context score.

    • Hornikx, J., & Pair, R. le (2017). The influence of high-/low-context culture on perceived ad complexity and liking. Journal of Global Marketing, 30 (4), 228-237. 

    Cultural values adapted to individualism-collectivism in advertising in Western Europe

    In international communication, adaptation of messages to the audience’s values has been prominently studied. In advertising, a meta-analysis of experimental studies showed that ads with culturally adapted value appeals are generally more persuasive and better liked than ads with culturally unadapted value appeals. This general effect was not observed for studies with Western Europeans. One explanation may be that these studies did not examine individualism-collectivism – whereas adaptation to this dimension has been shown to be very successful. In this paper, this explanation was tested. Six experiments were conducted in which participants from Belgium, the UK or the Netherlands judged an ad with an adapted, individualistic appeal or with an unadapted, collectivistic appeal. The experiments and a subsequent meta-analysis indicate that Western Europeans are not more persuaded by the culturally adapted than by the culturally unadapted value appeals based on individualism-collectivism. This result nuances earlier findings underlining the importance of cultural value adaptation

    • Hornikx, J., & Groot, E. de (2017). Cultural values adapted to individualism-collectivism in advertising in Western Europe: An experimental and meta-analytical approach. International Communication Gazette, 79 (3), 298-316. [link]

    Cultural differences in the perceptions of strong and weak arguments

    The process of arbitration requires human reasoning and decision-making. Parties evaluate the evidence that is available to them and decide how to best present their case. Arbitrators aim to resolve a dispute by weighing the evidence and the legal arguments that are presented by each side. Researchers have underlined the importance of strong evidence in legal deliberations, but what exactly characterizes strong arguments? This chapter addresses this question as a first point. The characteristics of arbitrators, such as age, gender, and cultural background, may affect how arbitrators process arguments. Yet given the aim of arbitration to be an objective and neutral process, it is important to consider how such characteristics may impact the ultimate outcome of a case. This chapter examines the last of these characteristics, namely the role of culture in this decision-making process. More precisely, this chapter reviews the research evidence on how members of different cultures evaluate strong and weak arguments.

    • Hornikx, J.  (2017). Cultural differences in the perceptions of strong and weak arguments. In T. Cole (ed.), The role of psychology in international arbitration (pp. 72-92). Alphen aan den Rijn: Wolters Kluwer. [link]

    Foreign languages as implicit country-of-origin cues in advertising

    Brands can position themselves as belonging to a foreign culture by using foreign languages in advertising. Foreign languages in ads have been suggested to be implicit country-of-origin (COO) cues. This paper examines the expectations that foreign languages operate through the COO effect (Study 1), and that they evoke associations (Study 2) and generate persuasive effects (Study 3) similar to COO mentions. The findings of the studies, employing different language slogans for different products, lend support to these expectations. Thus, foreign languages in advertising derive their effectiveness from the COO effect, and practitioners can use them to benefit from this effect.

    • Hornikx, J., & Meurs, F. van (2017). Foreign languages as implicit country-of-origin cues in advertising: Mechanism, associations, and effects. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 29 (2), 60-73. 

    An experimental investigation of the role of distraction and dilution

    PaglieriStudies on persuasive arguments have generally found that claims supported by high-quality evidence are better accepted than claims supported by low-quality evidence. However, an experiment by Hoeken and Hustinx (2007) demonstrated that this effect was only observed in short texts (a claim with evidence), but not in longer texts (where information unrelated to the evidence was added at the end of the text). The present experiment was conducted to examine whether this effect of text length could be explained by distraction (the additional text at the end distracts the reader) or by dilution (the additional text makes the fragment less diagnostic for claim evaluation). Participants (N = 629) read two texts with a claim supported by high-quality or low-quality (anecdotal, statistical, or expert) evidence. The text was presented in one of the three versions: (1) short, (2) long with additional information at the end, or (3) new in comparison to Hoeken and Hustinx (2007) – long with additional information at the start. The data found support for the distraction explanation. An effect of evidence quality on claim acceptance was observed in two conditions: in the short text, and in the longer text with additional information at the start. The effect of evidence quality was not found in the longer text with additional information at the end.

    • Hornikx, J. (2016). Evidence quality variations and claim acceptance: An experimental investigation of the role of distraction and dilution. Paglieri, F., Bonelli, L., & Felletti, S. (eds.), The psychology of argument: Cognitive approaches to argumentation and persuasion (pp. 211-222). London: College Publications. [paper book]