The Effects of Using L1 and L2 Swear Words in German Advertising.

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This paper investigates possible differences caused by using L1 and L2 swear words in advertising. Swear words are part of shock advertising which uses a norm-breach to attract attention. Shock advertising might be a useful tool to break through the information clutter and to attract the attention of consumers successfully. The perception of L2 swears might differ from how L1 swears are perceived. Past investigations have shown that words in the mother tongue of participants seem to cause more emotional reactions than those in their L2. This study contributes information about possible differences between participants regarding their reaction to swear words in advertisements, either in their L1 or L2. Many investigations have focused on students and their perception of swears, but companies need to know about the reactions and attitudes of other age groups, too. It was investigated whether the use of an L1 or L2 swear in ads impacts the purchase intention of consumers, their attitude towards the ad and the product, and the emotional response of consumers. Also, the impact of swears in advertising on source credibility was investigated. In addition, it was tested whether gender leads to distinct attitudes regarding advertisements with swear words. The results show that ads with swears are perceived as more offensive than those without. Gender was not found to influence the perception of ads with swears. This study underlines that companies should remember that ads with swears are perceived as more offensive than those without.
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