Foreign language slogans: what makes them complex and how does complexity influence perceived and actual comprehension, as well as purchase intention?

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Several studies have discussed the effect of foreign slogan complexity on advertisement effectiveness, but these studies failed to examine the very linguistic elements that make a foreign language (FL) slogan particularly complex. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of two linguistic factors (slogan length and cognate presence) on perceived comprehension (PC) and actual comprehension (AC) as measures of complexity in a Spanish FL slogan, and on purchase intention (PI). The stimuli were advertisements of Spanish products with a Spanish slogan. Slogans differed in terms of slogan length (four or eight words) and cognate presence (present or absent). In a between-subject experimental design, 180 Dutch participants with no Spanish proficiency were randomly assigned to one of four slogan conditions: four words with cognate, four words without cognate, eight words with cognate, eight words without cognate. Participants evaluated three advertisements within one slogan condition. Findings showed that short slogans lead to higher PC than long slogans, and slogans with a cognate result in higher PC and AC than slogans without a cognate. Thus, FL slogans that are short or contain a cognate were perceived as less complex than slogans without these elements, and slogans with a cognate were comprehended better than those without a cognate. Additionally, correlation analyses found positive correlations between all three dependent variables.
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