Understanding and Connecting Cultures within the World of Advertising

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Penn Journal of Philosophy, Politics & Economics
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cultural psychology
Social and Behavioral Sciences
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Rahm, Isabella

The advertising industry is a human enterprise at its core, constantly relying on and affecting human thoughts and behaviors. Advertisements for products and services reflect cultural messages and the values that shape our daily lives. This two-part article first offers a literature review of the effect of antismoking ads on teenagers’ behavior and attitudes towards smoking across Western, English-speaking societies within a cultural psychology framework. Then, it applies the themes from this literature review in presenting the results of a qualitative study exploring how employees at gyro, a business-to-business advertising agency, incorporate cultural thinking into their advertising process. Conclusions drawn in my review indicate that visceral negative and personal testimonies appealing to the emotions of a teenage audience positively affect youth and discourage them from smoking across cultures. Moreover, the digital age is transforming youth culture because adolescents are increasingly interacting by sharing posts and photos online via social media. Consequently, stronger reliance on online communication can extensively impact communities by closing some of the major cultural gaps. The review indicates that youth antismoking advertising evolves as a subculture in much the same way that larger cultures do. The qualitative study complements this underlying cultural evolution by demonstrating that advertisers actually do use methods of advancing culture in their work. In fact, the study reveals that culture is central to the creative advertising process. For instance, advertisers adjust the content of a message depending on whether a client is asking for a global, national, or regional campaign, in order to appeal to the right audience and deliver interesting and emotional experiences. Advertisers use tools, drawing from cultural psychology, to make their messages maximally effective and attractive. It is important to understand culture in order to create connections between societies around the globe within the world of advertising.

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