Previous studies have documented cultural differences in responding to advertising appeals. In the majority of these studies, the responses of US students to different value appeals were compared to those of Asian students. As a result, the type of value appeals studied is limited to appeals to individualistic and collectivistic values. In this study, two experiments are reported on in which the students come from a number of Western European countries (Belgium, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain) and in which appeals to different values are used (modesty, success, adventure, safety). The results revealed clear preferences for the modesty and the adventure appeals regardless of the participants’ nationality. The results raise questions about what would make participants from different cultures respond differently to different value appeals and whether adaptation of values is necessary in Western Europe.

Key Words: Value appeals • cultural differences • persuasion • international advertising • uncertainty avoidance • masculinity
There is an ongoing debate as to whether cultural differences necessitate adaptation of advertisements to local circumstances in international business communication. In particular, value appeals are thought to be culturally sensitive because cultures differ with respect to which values are considered important, and it is thought that appealing to important values is more persuasive than appealing to ones less important. This article reports on an experiment in which the persuasiveness of an appeal to security was compared to that of an appeal to adventure. The relative persuasiveness of these appeals was studied in countries (i.e., Belgium, France and Spain) that are characterized as high uncertainty avoidance cultures, and a country characterized as a low uncertainty avoidance culture: The Netherlands. Results showed that the two value appeals proved equally persuasive for all countries.

Key Words:
International advertising

In an increasingly globalizing world, the issue of international advertising is becoming more and more important. To reach their goals with respect to growth, successful companies have to expand (and export) their activities to other countries and other cultures. This raises the question of whether companies can use the same communication strategy in a foreign market that was apparently successful in their home market. Especially the adaptation of value appeals in international advertising has received attention in empirical research. In this line of research, we focus on the issue of whether cultural differences in Western Europe are strong enough to require adaptation of value appeals.

Selected publications:

Hoeken, H., Starren, M., Nickerson, C., Crijns, R., & Brandt, C. van den (2007). Is it necessary to adapt advertising appeals for national audiences in Western Europe? Journal of Marketing Communications, 13, 19-38.

Hoeken, H., Brandt, C. van den, Crijns, R., Dominguez, N., Hendriks, B., Planken, B., & Starren, M. (2003). International advertising in Western Europe: Should differences in uncertainty avoidance be considered when advertising in Belgium, France, The Netherlands, and Spain. The Journal of Business Communication, 40, 195-218.

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