Advertising often confronts consumers with foreign languages, such as German or French in the US, but little is known about the circumstances under which this is effective. The linguistic theory of foreign language display claims that the congruence with the product is the essential element in its effectiveness. This study investigates this premise by having Dutch participants (N = 150) evaluate ads for products that were (in)congruent with the language of the slogan (French, German, Spanish). Results show that foreign language display is indeed more effective for congruent (e.g., wine–French) than for incongruent products (e.g., beer–French).
- Hornikx, J., Meurs, F. van, & Hof, R.-J. (2013). The effectiveness of foreign-language display in advertising for congruent versus incongruent products. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 25 (3), 152-165. [pdf].
The claim that a product advertisement aims to put forward is usually related to the product benefits. In an abstract way, claims have formats such as ‘Product X has benefit Y’ or ‘Product X leads to benefit Y’. Advertisers do not necessarily express such product claims explicitly. Claims may be left implicit because readers can easily construct them personally. If product claims are expressed explicitly, advertisers sometimes use hedges or pledges, which mark the probability that the promised benefit will occur. A hedge marks a claim as moderately probable (e.g., In most cases), whereas a pledge marks a claim as highly probable (e.g., In all cases). Experimental research to date (see §2) has shown that these probability markers are equally persuasive, and that they are not more persuasive than claims without such markers. Berney-Reddish and Areni (2005) argue that research should examine hedges and pledges in different communication modalities because people have been shown to process information differently in various communication modalities, such as print, audio, and the Internet. The present study therefore compares the persuasiveness of hedges and pledges in advertising claims in print and audio, and examines how these markers are processed in the two communication modalities.
- Neessen, G., & Hornikx, J. (2012). The effect of communication modality on the persuasiveness of hedges and pledges in advertising claims. In Heynderickx, P., Dieltjens, S., Jacobs, G., Gillaerts, P., & Groot, E. de (red.), The language factor in international business: New perspectives on research, teaching and practice (pp. 199-214). Bern: Peter Lang. [pdf upon request]
Claims in advertising may vary in their use of probability markers that signal the degree to which the claim is true. Experimental research has compared hedges (which mark a claim as moderately probable) and pledges (which mark a claim as very probable). This research has generally neglected the proponent of the claims: the brand. There are reasons to believe that the brand behind the advertising affects to what extent people are persuaded by advertising claims. In two studies it was therefore investigated whether the reputation of the brand affects the persuasiveness of hedges and pledges. It was expected that hedges would be more persuasive for low-reputation brands, whereas pledges would be more persuasive for high-reputation brands. This expectation was tested in two experiments. In Study 1, hedges and pledges were compared in an ad that was provided after information about a brand’s reputation. In Study 2, hedges, plegdes and no markers were compared in an ad in which the brand’s reputation was incorporated. Both studies did not find empirical support for the hypothesis. In Study 1, hedges and pledges were found to be equally persuasive; in Study 2, pledges were found to be more persuasive than hedges.
- Hornikx, J. (2012). The effects of hedges and pledges in advertisements for high and low reputation brands. In F. H. van Eemeren & B. Garssen (Red.), Exploring argumentative contexts (pp. 307-319). Amsterdam: Benjamins. [pdf upon request]
Current advertising for beauty products makes abundant use of scientese, scientific jargon in statistical and/or verbal form. As of yet, no study has examined the impact of scientese in an advertising context. Therefore, an experiment investigates the credibility and liking of ads for different beauty products with and without scientese. The study assesses effects in a culture likely to be susceptible to scientese because of its large power distance and high uncertainty avoidance (Wallonia), and in a culture less likely to be susceptible to scientese (the Netherlands). Dutch (n = 72) and Walloon (n = 60) judged different ads for beauty products with or without different forms of scientese. In both cultures, ads with scientese were found to be more credible but less liked than ads without scientese.
- Mulken, M. van, & Hornikx, J. (2011). The influence of scientese on ad credibility and ad liking: A cross-cultural investigation of ads for beauty products. Information Design Journal, 19 (2), 92-102. [pdf]
Empirical research has demonstrated that variation in standpoint explicitness matters. In several research reports, explicit articulations of a standpoint or conclusion have been compared to more implicit articulations. Meta-analyses of such reports (Cruz, 1998; O’Keefe, 1997, 2002) have shown that messages with explicitly stated standpoints are more persuasive than messages without such standpoints. Such effects were not found for advertising messages, for which the conclusion – buy this product – seems relatively straightforward, regardless of the articulation of the conclusion (Cruz, 1998). There are different ways in which explicit conclusions may be articulated, one of which is the use of probability markers. Advertising research has compared hedges (which mark a standpoint as moderately probable) and pledges (which mark a standpoint as very probable). In this study, it was investigated whether the reputation of the brand affects the persuasiveness of hedges and pledges. Based on a study conducted by Goldberg and Hartwick (1990), it was expected that hedges would be more persuasive for low-reputation brands, whereas pledges would be more persuasive for high-reputation brands. This expectation was put to a test in an experiment.
- Hornikx, J. (2011). Variations of standpoint explicitness in advertising: An experimental study on probability markers. In F. H. van Eemeren, B. Garssen, D. Godden, & G. Mitchell (Eds.), Proceedings of the seventh conference of the International Society for the Study of Argumentation (pp. 824-830). Amsterdam: Sic Sat. [pdf]
International research teams that are knowledgeable about the cultures under investigation are considered a prerequisite for sound research. By virtue of a meta-analytic review, this study empirically compared international and national research teams that have conducted experiments on the effectiveness of cultural value adaptation in advertising. Results show that, although the composition of research teams does not make for dependable differences in the outcomes of these experiments, international research teams may be more capable than national teams of designing pairs of culturally-adapted-versus-unadapted advertisements. It may not matter much, however, whether the international team includes a representative of the audience’s culture.
- Hornikx, J., & O’Keefe, D. J. (2011). Conducting research on international advertising: The roles of cultural knowledge and international research teams. Journal of Global Marketing, 24 (2), 152-166. [link]
Advertorials zijn reclameboodschappen die zijn vermomd als journalistieke bijdragen (editorials), maar die wel degelijk van een merk afkomstig zijn om tot koop aan te zetten. Het ligt voor de hand dat advertorials daarom een commerciëler karakter hebben dan editorials die informatiever zouden moeten zijn. Herkennen lezers advertorials als commerciële, en editorials als informatieve berichten?
- Hornikx, J., & Estourgie, V. (2010). Tijdschriftreclame uit de kleedkamer van de redactie. Tekstblad, 16 (5/6), 18-21. [pdf]
Een prominente lijn van onderzoek naar cultuur en reclame wordt gevormd door experimenten waarin advertenties met cultureel aangepaste waardeappels worden vergeleken met advertenties met cultureel onaangepaste waardeappels. Uit een eerdere meta-analyse van bestaande experimenten bleek dat aangepaste advertenties overtuigender zijn en meer gewaardeerd worden dan onaangepaste advertenties, maar dat dit effect niet optrad voor West-Europese proefpersonen (Hornikx & O’Keefe, 2009). Een oorzaak hiervoor ligt mogelijkerwijs in de gebruikte waardedimensies: in studies met Europese proefpersonen werden waardeappels nauwelijks aangepast aan individualisme – collectivisme, terwijl andere studies met deze waardedimensie juist aanpassingseffecten vonden. In een nieuwe serie experimenten werd daarom nagegaan of advertenties met een aangepast individualistisch waardeappel in West-Europese landen effectiever waren dan advertenties met een onaangepast collectivistisch waardeappel. Een meta-analyse van deze experimenten laat zien dat ook aanpassing aan individualisme – collectivisme geen voordeel oplevert in advertenties voor West-Europese proefpersonen.
- Hornikx, J., Groot, E. de, Timmermans, E., Mariëns, J., & Verckens, J. P. (2010). Is het aanpassen van advertenties aan culturele waarden in West-Europa zinvol? Tijdschrift voor Taalbeheersing, 32 (2), 114-127. [pdf]
Studies have demonstrated frequent use of English in international advertising, but little is known about people’s preference for English versus local languages. This paper empirically investigated the difficulty of the English language as a possible determinant of people’s preference for English or the local language. In an experiment, Dutch participants judged a number of car ads with English slogans that were pre-tested as easy or difficult to understand. They were subsequently asked to express a preference for either the English slogan or the Dutch equivalent. Results showed that easy-to-understand English slogans were appreciated better than difficult-to-understand English slogans. Moreover, the degree of difficulty in comprehension of the English slogans affected participants’ preference for English. English was preferred to Dutch when it was easy to understand; when it was difficult to understand, English was appreciated as much as the Dutch equivalent. In conclusion, the experiment provides empirical support for the role of comprehension in the preference for and appreciation of English in international advertising.
- Hornikx, J., Meurs, F. van, & Boer, A. de (2010). English or a local language in advertising? The appreciation of easy and difficult English slogans in the Netherlands. Journal of Business Communication, 47 (2), 169-188. [pdf]
It is a truism that successful persuasive messages should be adapted to audience values. A substantial research literature—not previously systematically reviewed—has examined whether advertisements with appeals adapted to the audience’s important cultural values (e.g., individualism for North Americans) are more persuasive and better liked than appeals that are unadapted to such values. A meta-analytic review of that research finds that adapted ads are only slightly more persuasive (mean r = .073, 67 cases) and slightly better liked (mean r = .082, 66 cases) than unadapted ads. Moreover, these effects were mainly limited to North Americans and Asians and to values related to individualism-collectivism. In this chapter, we discuss explanations for these results and identify directions for future research.
- Hornikx, J., & O’Keefe, D. J. (2009). Adapting consumer advertising appeals to cultural values: A meta-analytic review of effects on persuasiveness and ad liking. Annals of the International Communication Association, 33 (1), 38-71. [pdf, link]