A Decade Ago – What has changed?

Do you remember the first Big Brother? The Millennium Dome exhibition? George W Bush being elected president?

Well, it’s almost a decade ago, just as long ago as I started analysing appeals used in television adverts from culturally close countries. The ads were selected from the main television stations in the UK, Netherlands and Germany. They were then coded for the appeals they contained – and I then compared the coded appeals to the cultural values, as measured by Schwatz and Hofstede, for these countries.


At the time, this was the first study to look at what happens to appeals in advertising in countries that are fairly close, which made an important contribution when most studies looked at “very different” countries, often comparing US adverts with Far Eastern ads. The result (in short) was, that the appeals broadly reflected cultural values (though somewhat distorted, as Pollay rightly claimed!) – and that for appeals linked to cultural dimensions which were fairly different, the appeals usage was also different. Whereas there was no difference for appeals linked to “culturally close” dimensions.

The other advantage of the study was that I now have a set of adverts and appeals – used a decade ago. This means I can now revisit the data set, and see how it compares to today’s adverts. Again, this addresses a major gap in our knowledge of advertising appeals, i.e. how they change over time. There are a few studies who have looked at advertising content (especially using images used, ethnicity of actors and perceived clothing sizes) – but no one so far has addressed how appeals change (or not – as the case may be!). I’m currently collecting all the adverts (which means recording a LOT of prime time television, and deleting all the “real” programms !) and trying to sweet talk the coders from a decade ago to offer their help again, in order to replicate the study and see just what has happened to the appeals.

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