A Cross-National Analysis of Advertisement ContentJournal of International Consumer Marketing


Aysen Bakir
Management Information Systems / Marketing


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Journal of International Consumer Marketing

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A Cross-National Analysis of Advertisement Content

Aysen Bakir a a Department of Marketing , Illinois State University , Normal , Illinois , USA

Published online: 17 May 2012.

To cite this article: Aysen Bakir (2012) A Cross-National Analysis of Advertisement Content, Journal of International Consumer

Marketing, 24:3, 186-202, DOI: 10.1080/08961530.2012.682040

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08961530.2012.682040


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Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 24:186–202, 2012

Copyright c© Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

ISSN: 0896-1530 print / 1528-7068 online

DOI: 10.1080/08961530.2012.682040

A Cross-National Analysis of Advertisement Content

Aysen Bakir

ABSTRACT. The children’s segment of the consumer marketplace has grown substantially in the last couple of decades. Advertisers have been allocating significant amounts of money to tap into this market. This study provides an in-depth analysis of television commercials shown during times and on television channels children watch in India and the U.S. The two countries are distinctly different in their level of industrialization, consumer culture, and advertising maturity. Empirical evidence is provided on execution-related concepts such as message structures and types of messages, among others. Significant differences as well as commonalities that might be related to economic environment, consumption culture, and advertising maturity are found between the two countries. Potential explanations for the findings are offered.

KEYWORDS. Advertising, children, content analysis, India, U.S.

The children’s market has become a substantial source of revenue for global marketers. Today’s marketers are spending about $17 billion annually to reach this segment in the U.S., up from $100 million annually in the 1980s (Linn 2008). Although today’s advertisers have extensive alternatives, television advertising still plays an important role in the media mix (Steinberg 2009), and estimates show that children watch 40,000 TV commercials a year (Stanley 2007).

Accordingly, television as a medium presents a potentially important influence on children’s learning.

The children’s segment offers potential not only in the U.S. but on a global level as well. At least 25% of the population of emerging markets in countries such as China (25%), India (33.1%), and Brazil (28.6%) are children aged 14 and younger (Arundhati 2002). India alone is home to 400 million people younger than 21; more

Aysen Bakir is Associate Professor of Marketing in the Department of Marketing at Illinois State

University, Normal, Illinois, USA.

Address correspondence to Aysen Bakir, Illinois State University, Department of Marketing, Campus Box 5590, Normal, IL 61790-5590, USA. E-mail: abakir2@ilstu.edu than 20 million new babies are born in India each year (Bijapurkar 2008). Given the growth of this heavily targeted children’s segment, it is essential for advertisers to understand how the content and execution of children’s advertising varies across different countries, in order to reach this market effectively. Similar to advertising for adults, children’s advertising might be influenced by the norms and values of given cultures. Advertisement content might be a reflection of cultural values (McCracken 1986), and these cultural differences might lead to different advertising practices in each country.

Research on advertising aimed at children has received considerable attention from academia (e.g., Bakir, Blodgett, and Rose 2008; Chan et al. 2010; Macklin and Kolbe 1984). There is still a significant need for more research examining global practices in the literature. Past studies have examined children’s attitudes toward 186

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Aysen Bakir 187 advertisement (Bakir, Blodgett, and Rose 1998;

Kolbe and Muehling 1995) and content analysis of children’s commercials (Browne 1998; Hoek and Laurence 1993; Hoek and Sheppard 1990;

Macklin and Kolbe 1984). Other studies examined effectiveness of audio and visual versions of ad breaks in an advergame context with children (An and Stern 2011), effects of television commercial violence on children (Brocato et al. 2010), children’s recall of television ad elements (Maher, Hu, and Kolbe 2006), the effectiveness of the use of animated spokescharacters in advertising among children (Neeley and Schumann 2004), the effects of dual-modality disclaimers and emotional appeals in food advertising during children’s programming (Wicks et al. 2009), and children’s perceptions of advertising symbols (Henke 1995). In-depth analysis of children’s advertisements in emerging markets is still needed, as well as cross-cultural studies on children’s advertising, which are to date not only very limited but also focused only on industrialized markets (Browne 1998).