Meat Reduction Advertising to Bilinguals: Effects of Language Choice on Attitude and Persuasiveness.

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Social advertisements are designed to change people’s behavior in order to improve the individual’s and society’s welfare. Meat reduction is a well-known topic in social advertising and is associated with health issues, environmental problems, and poor animal welfare. Previous research and theories on advertising suggest that foreign language use influences the effectiveness of advertisements. In this study, the effect of foreign language use in persuasive appeals on the effectiveness of social advertisements was studied by administering an online questionnaire with 147 Dutch-English bilinguals, using a 2 (language) x 3 (persuasive appeal) between-subjects design measuring the perceived emotionality of the advertisement, and individuals’ attitude and intention towards reducing their meat intake. In contrary to previous studies, the results showed that the advertisements in participants’ second language (L2) were perceived as more emotionally charged than the advertisements in their first language (L1). Moreover, the negative emotional appeals were perceived as more emotional than the informational and positive emotional appeals. The language and type of appeal did not affect participants’ attitude or intention. These findings help further nuance current theories on advertising and emotionality in one’s L1 and L2 and imply that when advertising to Dutch- English bilinguals, the choice of language (L1 or L2) might not have as many consequences as previous studies have suggested. It is recommended for further research to create emotional appeals that contain strongly emotional words, and informational appeals that contain little to no emotional words, so as to ensure a large difference in terms of emotional language.
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