Buy this damn product: Effects of swear words in a foreign language in advertising.
Nowadays, we are surrounded by advertisements that try to grab our attention. Each day, we are exposed to an estimated 3.000 advertisements (Dahl, Frankenberger & Manchandra, 2003, p. 268). Over the past years, advertisers came up with many different ways to break through advertising clutter and attract our attention (Mortimer, 2007, p. 1593). Shock advertising is one of way which has become popular among advertisers (Dahl, Frankenberger & Manchandra, 2003). The use of swear words in advertising is one tool to grab the attention of an audience using shock (Mortimer, 2007, p. 1593). In addition to the use of swear words in advertising, also the use of English in advertising has an increased presence in many European countries nowadays (Wilton & De Houwer, 2011). However, no research has been found on the effects on consumers when advertisements use swear words in the individual’s mother tongue (L1) or in a foreign language (L2). Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to investigate the effects of swear words and to test whether there are any differences for advertisements that are in the individual’s L1 (Dutch or German) and L2 (English). To study the effects on consumers of advertisements that use swear words in the individual’s mother tongue or in a foreign language, the present research conducted a between-subject experiment among 265 Dutch and German participants. In an online questionnaire, participants were exposed to four advertisements in either their mother tongue or English, which either included or excluded the use of a swear word. Interestingly, the results show that the emotional response is higher for advertisements that do not include a swear word than for advertisements with a swear word. Further research is needed to check for effects on attitude towards the advertisement, attitude towards the product, purchase intention, brand recall and, product recall.
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