The Cross-Cultural And Language Aspects Of Thailand Advertising For Russian Tourists
Nowadays, the communicative space refers to a sophisticated system in which intercultural information exchange involves marketing communications. The purpose of the study is to describe the uniqueness of the Western and Eastern advertising styles, consider the specifics of goods and services advertising in Thailand designed for Russian-speaking tourists and determine the nature of the impact of the cross-cultural factors and linguistic means on the presentation of the advertising image in the consumers’ minds. To reach the goals of the study, the authors used the analytical and theoretical method, the systematic method, the content analysis approach, and the method of continuous selection of marketing communications texts and linguistic means. Authors conclude that due to the competence of Russian copywriters, advertising of Thai goods and services targeted at Russian-speaking tourists meets the necessary requirements. If advertisers do not take into account the ethnic-national-cultural specifics of the target audience, the advertising messages are at risk of being ineffective. The productive linguistic means (names, epithets, and metaphors, etc.) create an advertising image and saturate the text with expressive images aimed at the attraction of consumers and manipulation of their mind and thought process. These linguistic means transfer the content of marketing information and emotional background to product and services images. The frequent use of these linguistic means in Thai advertising for Russian-speaking tourists can be associated with their linguistic properties: imagery, appraisal, expressiveness, and the ability to create the corresponding positive verbal image of the product, causing the emotional response in the consumer’s mind.
Keywords: Advertising imagecross-cultural communicationlanguage of advertising
Intercultural communication involves basic communication patterns manifested as the exchange of information carried out by the messengers of different cultures. The main goal of intercultural communication is to establish contacts with a foreign partner, reach mutual understanding between specialists of a particular field of professional activity in communicative interaction.
Modern integrated marketing communications, actively functioning in the information environment, are involved in intercultural and cross-cultural dialogue. Advertising becomes a participant in all social and communicative processes, as evidenced by the great scientific interest in it as a language phenomenon.
This paper stresses the practical relevance of research of linguistic means (LM) and cross-cultural communication factors contributing to creating the advertising product image in the tourism sphere. It assesses the practical experience and advertising marketing style in different cultures.
The communication process has been the subject of investigations for scholars in marketing, sociology, linguistics, and other spheres. The theoretical background of the research is based on the ideas put forward in the works of Hofstede (2001), Ovrutsky et al. (2004), Guzikova and Fofanova (2015), Sundar et al. (2016), Mikheeva (2017), Alvarez and Uribe (2017), Larina (2018), Musykant and Sknarev (2019), Antonova et al. (2019), Karpova (2020), Hudayberganov (2020) and others.
Advertising and advertising image
Modern advertising can be defined as a systemic phenomenon, a type of marketing communication for the creation of which various visual, verbal, audial, and other means are involved. The reason to consider it as a specially organized discourse is the appearance of a specific collection of advertising units, LM, and marketing text units. They create a system of advertising discourse images and become the most effective means to achieve strategic (brand image, reliable information about the product and maintaining a loyal attitude towards it) and tactical (sale of goods) marketing goals (Sknarev, 2015).
An advertising image represents new information about a product and its essential qualities for a potential buyer and demonstrates its specific visual and verbal forms. The flow of verbal and visual images is quickly processed in the consumer's mind, setting the time limit for information analysis and synthesis, stimulating imagination activity. The methods of creating an advertising image are technological and pursue pragmatic goals.
The study of marketing communications identifies the system of advertising images such as advertising messages, advertising texts, etc. Visual (design) and verbal (language) elements support creating a compelling image of the advertising subject (product, service, company, etc.). We believe that we can talk about a creolized advertising image that combines verbal and non-verbal components.
Visual advertising image
The visual advertising image is created in the consumer’s mind when he or she perceives the image, color, font in a particular advertising message. Therefore, advertisers purposefully formulate the accessibility criteria of the corresponding system of advertising images; they increase the axiological characteristics of the product and make it the most attractive in the eyes of the consumer.
According to the authors, the selection criteria for a visual image aimed at effective advertising impact are the customer’s perception of the advertising image, visibility, clarity, and emotional impact. It is noteworthy that visual images are better stored in memory than words and cause positive attitudes towards marketing information. Thereby, customers' attitude toward a product signifies their trust in an image created by a protagonist. As a rule, professional experts, heads of organizations, celebrities, famous personalities from show business, politics, and sports, as well as historical figures, fairy-tale and mythological characters, corporate heroes play the role of the advertising protagonist (mascots).
The imagery of speech is the most powerful means in the marketing communications text. People do not so much listen to the speech as they see and feel it. As a result, words that do not cause images are ineffective and annoying.
Verbal Advertising Image
The visual advertising image supports a verbal image created by various LM used in the texts of marketing communications to attract consumer's attention to advertising information. To create the texts of marketing communications, copywriters develop a verbal image of a product using image-bearing words that later become headlines, slogans, information blocks, and other composition elements.
An advertising text should provide the maximum amount of marketing information with a minimum number of words. In each case of marketing communication, the choice of image-bearing words in tune with the target audience's expectations contribute to customer’s decision making, and the advertiser's needs. Hence, the ability to abstract information, analyze each word, its connotation, meaning, and even pronunciation is especially relevant. Consequently, each word used in advertising communication must be extremely accurate, weighty, and justified. It is an essential requirement for the text aimed at attracting people's attention and motivating their behavior.
An advertising connotation created by various linguistic means, techniques, and textual units of marketing communications (brand name, headline, slogan, etc.) is associated with the pragmatic properties of the text. The trajectory of the advertising image must create a positive information perception in the target audience. Appropriate textual arguments should further influence the audience, contribute to the promotion of the product, and help the consumer decide on its purchase.
For example, there are essential factors of real estate advertising attracting attention and capturing the mind of a modern technological and environmentally-friendly consumer: convenient location, the attractive architectural style of the house (building), well-planned infrastructure, the availability of recreational areas, eco-friendly strategy of the district development, etc. Advertising of residential real estate must be closely related to the concept of lifestyle. Consequently, in creating an advertising image, LM and text units should provide the dominant vision of good quality residential real estate in the consumer's thought process. The product must meet the expectations of the target audience, satisfy its needs. In order for the consumer to become aware of the advertised product and services value, and respond positively, expressive-evaluative creolized (visual-verbal) concepts about an advertised product must be applied. The LM in the advertising text (tropes and idioms) play a significant role in creating the valuable characteristics of the product.
The globalization processes in contemporary society make marketers think how to ensure goods produced in a particular system of consumer values effectively overcome mental boundaries that arise due to differences in ethnic, national cultures, traditions of different countries and peoples. In that regard, we consider advertising a manifestation of the culture code, which speaks of the decoding capability inside and outside a particular country and era.
Most of the Russian researchers’ studies devoted to foreign advertising are descriptive. They record the differences discovered during their foreign trips. They evidence noticeable differences in public information in outdoor advertising, print advertising, compared with the corresponding ones in the domestic market.
In this article, we emphasize the specifics of Thailand advertising communications targeted to Russian-speaking tourists. In this regard, the problem of zones detection of cultural coincidence and variability between different nations is evident. To a certain extent, the study of structurally-substantive features of the visual and verbal images of international advertising marketing contributes to the solution to this problem.
The topic of research is relevant because of the lack of information about the specifics of Thailand advertising, intended for Russian-speaking tourists traveling in this country, interested in its culture, sights, and acting as a potential target audience for the marketing communication.
The main questions of this study are linked with the study of the specifics of advertising in Thailand. So, earlier in his work Sknarev (2015) partially described this phenomenon. Knowing that language and images are vital for creating advertising text, some questions arise:
What differences exist in the Western and Eastern advertising style?
What is the benefit of the business names in Thai advertising for a Russian-speaking audience?
What LM used in Thai tourism advertisements make them more memorable, persuasive, and attractive for Russian tourists?
Purpose of the Study
The object of this study is the advertising of goods and services in Thailand. The research subject is advertising communication addressed to Russian-speaking tourists employing the use of speech and LM, communicative-pragmatic settings in the advertising text to influence the consciousness, will, and feelings of the consumer.
We assume that advertising in Thailand for Russian-speaking tourists, a specific marketing communication aimed at creating an advertising image through verbal means, takes into consideration semantic and pragmatic aspects of the Russian language system. In the advertising discourse, it outlines axiologically subject-object relationships that determine the language role in human cognition in the study of the world. We believe that a permanent advertising image with transforming capacities can adapt to new social environments and enhance the promotion of Thai goods and services for Russian-speaking tourists.
The research purpose is to investigate the LM and product images in Thai advertising texts published in the Russian language and to determine the role of cross-cultural factors in advertising communication.
In turn, an advertising text is a unit of advertising discourse that operates in advertising activities, which correlate with common goals, tasks, communication terms, and cultural context. It fixes the norms of communication in the advertising field using verbal and non-verbal means.
To reach the goals of the study, we used the following methods:
- the analytical and theoretical method that describes research problems (the current state of research in international advertising, the reflection of the dialogue of cultures in the language);
- the systematic method that describes the actual use of selected language material at the lexical and phraseological levels;
- the content analysis approach that describes the language portraits of protagonists, the target audience, and advertising marketers, etc.;
- the method of continuous selection of texts and LM of marketing communications.
Research data were obtained from outdoor printed advertising published in product brochures, guides, leaflets, glossy magazines promoting the tourism industry products, services, as well as real estate advertising.
Cross-cultural factor in international advertising
Advertising is a product of a mass culture that makes it attractive to cultural studies researchers, sociologists, linguists, marketers, and others. Currently, advertising is considered to be an integral part of modern culture, the texts of which perform a specific cultural function. The cross-cultural factor in international advertising is a substantial part of the advertising analysis of the correlation of a particular target audience with its culture, traditions, perception of reality, etc.
Thus, Dru (2003), analyzing approaches to advertising in different countries, concludes that the culture of the country dictates the work style of advertisers. Mamontov (2017) justifies the need for individual choice and study of language units, which most clearly manifest the national cultural uniqueness in all cases of cross-cultural communication.
Given the geographical, socio-economic, ethnic, and cultural differences, advertising becomes a catalyst for the distribution and promotion of products on a global scale. The success of a global or international advertising campaign depends mostly on whether the target audience understands advertising in a particular country or not. The information about the material and spiritual life, cultural realia, and stereotypes of a nation, implanted in advertising texts, can provide the dissemination of knowledge about cultural heritage, the lifestyle of the people, as well as protect and preserve their cultural identity, contribute to global intercultural intercommunication (Kozlova, 2020).
When developing a strategy for promoting a company or product, it is necessary to take into account the language peculiarities of national advertising. The best option for international advertising is partially standardized advertising that maintains a unified spirit and overall strategy of the advertising campaign. It enables advertisers to respond flexibly to local small, medium-sized, and big business plans, and to gain a more powerful influence on the target audience of the foreign market. Empirical experience reveals a unique style of influence on the target audience through the advertising image and text that dominates in the Western and Eastern types of advertising.
Western Type Advertising
Advertising for the American consumer is presented as a commercial offer, and the LM chosen to create the image of the product directly express this concept. It is believed to be logical, rational but can also be aggressive and offensive, with a predominance of individualistic values, frequent appeal to prestige and status.
British advertising is intellectual, and one might say noble, stylish, full of the British style associations, and the English sense of humor. It is based on etiquette, traditionalism, conservatism in the use of artistic means.
German advertising is characterized by rationalism, accuracy, graphic art, high-quality visualization and design, appeal to facts, argumentation, maximum reliability of the information, and lack of emotional and sensual means of literary expressiveness.
The French advertising style reflects the national character traits, traditions of the French artistic culture, such as sophistication, romanticism, and tenderness. Moreover, it has a spectacular aesthetics, filled with colorful images that evoke pleasure and emotional response in the consumer. It is worth mentioning that the language of French advertising is rich in emotions, comicism, amazing mobility, witticisms, and puns.
Most researchers mention the Western-type advertising attractiveness and intrigue that capture the attention of the consumer and induce customer purchases (Agrba, 2019; Tyuleneva, 2008).
Asian advertising characteristics are utmost emotionality and brightness, unique oriental culture, and aesthetics.
Japanese advertising demonstrates the originality of advertisement content, the highest quality of technical and artistic performance. Some researchers assign a manifestation of collectivism and caste isolation, high moral standards, esotericism to it. They admit it to be rationally built, closed, and selfish.
Chinese advertising is prone to relying on Chinese traditions, culture, and values. Chinese advertising has become a matter of interest to a large group of researchers due to the peculiarity of Chinese hieroglyphic signs. The entry of Chinese goods into the international market and the distribution of foreign goods in China showed Chinese advertising specificity: a particular translation of a foreign advertising appeal, slogan or brand into Chinese (Zhang et al., 2017).
On the one hand, Chinese advertising strives for patriotism, freedom from the Western mentality, and stereotypes. It promotes concepts related to success, career advancement, and growth of financial well-being, creating a family. On the other hand, it often uses the achievements of the Western advertising industry, well-known European brands, etc.
Besides, advertising in China, according to Shabalina (2014), does not overload the consumer with information. The dominant emotion in Chinese advertising is joy (happiness, pleasure, fun), which is explained by the cheerfulness and optimism of the Chinese. Harmony, serenity, and peacefulness are the emotional states of Chinese advertising images.
The context of culture affects advertising language and has constraints on the advertising language expressions. As a rule, an advertising text is almost never translated literally, because the text loses its meaning and power. Therefore, when translating such texts, the advertisers must take into account the heterogeneity of the writing and vocabulary systems, traditional national and social peculiarities, and stereotypic behavior of a specific audience.
We conclude that the saturation of the verbal part of the texts of European and Asian advertising with a variety of expressive LM does not at all guarantee success.
Translation of advertising texts and cross-cultural competence
The cross-cultural analysis of communications shows the specifics of European and Asian advertising as a common phenomenon, but there exist lots of differences. All nations have their own system of values that have been developed by many generations. The background knowledge of the recipient due to differences in cultural and linguistic traditions influence and contribute to the adequate translation of advertising texts (Valdés, 2019). These facts indicate the decisive influence of the cross-cultural factor on how we advertise our products in foreign markets and how we perceive foreign advertising. We find specific features in the presentation of the goods and services image and an appropriate set of LM that make up the subject of advertising in each country. When considering the concept of international advertising campaigns, advertisers need to be especially careful and take this specificity into account not to overlook some positive features of the service or product. All these factors significantly affect the processes of dissemination and perception of information; therefore, the creator of the advertising text must be cross-culturally competent. Our understanding is that the term cross-cultural competence in advertising is the ability to fuse the different worldviews providing a mutual understanding and determine the marketing capabilities of the corresponding LM in creating an advertising image in the context of national cultures and government regulations. At the stage of coding an advertising message, competent specialists can analyze advertising communications, identify the national mentality peculiarities, and ways to avoid the negative impact of unwanted dominants on the perception of advertising.
The cross-cultural factor of communication of Thai and Russian-speaking population
The authors consider the specifics of advertising in Thailand aimed at Russian-speaking tourists and determine the nature of the impact of the cross-cultural factor and LM on the presentation of the advertising image in the minds of consumers.
A massive influx of Russian-speaking tourists entering Thailand started in 2007 when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand granted visa-free travel to Russians. Since then, the brand of the Kingdom of Thailand is actively being promoted by advertising companies. In order to attract the target audience from Russia and the post-Soviet space to the country, tourist operators and agencies of Thailand do not only sell their services but also inform tourists about the best offers of their services and possibilities of recreation. So, Bangkok Airways, in the Russian issue of the Absolute Thai magazine, called for Russian-speaking tourists to explore the Kingdom:
The Thai advertising market and the market for hotel services are rapidly growing due to the regular arrival of tourists. The target audience expects to spend vacations with maximum comfort, high-quality service, but, paradoxically, at the lowest possible costs. Almost every tour operator or real estate agency offering vacations or accommodation in this country issues magazines, brochures in the Russian language with both informative and advertising sections (Sattar, 2018). In our opinion, this fact has a positive impact on the perception of Thai goods and services images by a Russian-speaking audience.
The Russian movie
Among Russian-speaking tourists, the most popular resort city in Thailand is Pattaya. The Russian tourist season begins in February and ends in May but, according to our observations, this period can last all year. Everywhere one can hear Russian speech. Many businesses use signboards, advertising stands, magazines, brochures and menus in Russian. Pattaya residents can easily maintain a dialogue because they know the basic Russian phrases. So, Thais often use simple Russian phrases:
An image of a friendly, sociable Thai resident supports the interest of Russians to the people and the country, helps most Russians overcome the fear of not being understood and not understand the Thai. Russian copywriters compose most of the advertisement texts, either living or working in Thailand. In this case, the communicative competence of the creators and consumers coincides and is avoiding semantic interference (barriers) in advertising communication because the large part of tourists’ advertisements in the country is in the consumer's native language, i.e. Russian.
The image of a visual communicator, an advertising protagonist (a well-known businessman, politician, sportsman, international star, professional expert), is one of the main compositional elements of Thai advertising. In the advertising of real estate and construction services, images of heads of businesses serve as advertising mascots. Naparat Tadsonti, the CEO of Ocean Residential Property Co., Ltd. in Pattaya, gives an interview about her company on the pages of the Real Estate Thailand glossy magazine issued in Russian. The company was founded in 2010 in Pattaya to establish communication between the rapidly developing Russian market and local businesses. This magazine is the only official Russian glossy magazine, the most popular media in Pattaya and Phuket. The highly-qualified experts warrant that they will professionally provide any dialogue with Russian-speaking customers. They will offer them the most complete and reliable information about real estate, investment, business, luxury living, and other goods and services in Thailand.
The woman advertising image is a compelling symbol that attracts the customer's attention to the advertised product (in this case, real estate advertising) and contributes to its successful sales in the market. The image of Naparat Tadsonti, an independent and confident Thai business lady, seems to be efficient in advertising. It arouses interest, respect for this woman, and desire of the target audience to follow in her footsteps.
A linguistic image of Thai goods and services for Russian-speaking tourists
The language of advertising is a universal tool to understand the reality in intercultural communication (Hornikx, & Meurs, 2019; Ustimenko, 2016). Let us turn to the LM of creating the Thai products and services image.
1) Business naming generation
A business name must have power. This unique, memorable sign helps differentiate among competing businesses and attract potential customers. The name of a company, service, etc. acts as a LM. In Thailand, there are many companies and businesses with Russian names:
Restaurants and cafes names
(after personal names and surnames): Дядя Вова (Uncle Vova's cafe), У Миши (At Misha's cafe), Распутин (Rasputin restaurant), Антошка (Antoshka restaurant);
(after city names): Санкт-Петербург (Sankt-Peterburg cafe), Владивосток (Vladivostok cafe),
(after Russian items, souvenirs):
Tour agencies names: Олег-тур (Oleg-tour), Аленушка (Alyonushka), Ананас-тур (‘Pineapple-tour’), Русалочка (‘Little Mermaid’), Кокос-тревел (‘Coconut-travel’), Русские приключения (‘Russian Adventures’), and others.
These examples show that businesses use Russian names to attract more Russian-speaking customers. Russian tourists feel comfortable because they can use their own language even though they cannot speak Thai or English language. The encoded marketing information encloses peculiarities of the Russian mentality: retrospective and current social memory, cultural realities, national character, stereotypes, and archetypes. For example, the restaurant
Russian names evoke warm associations of being at home, support the feeling of safety, internal joy, and even patriotism. They simply create the image of Russia.
There are also business names associated with Thai traditions that induce the positive attitude and emotions of Russian tourists. The name of the real estate agency White Elephant in Pattaya is a case in point. It is known that in the Thai tradition, the white elephant is a symbol of good luck. The secret of the success of the White Elephant company is in the combination of high professionalism with extensive experience and knowledge of the real estate market of Pattaya. All efforts are aimed at providing the best service for customers. The agency White Elephant will bring customers good luck in the real estate market in Thailand (Real estate in Thailand from the company White Elephant, 2020).
Moreover, the white elephant, a symbol of the royal family of Thailand, symbolizes dignity, intelligence, uniqueness. The image of an elephant appeals to everyone's wish to be strong and wise like an elephant. People rely on more positive emotions, specifically friendship, inspiration, warmth, and happiness rather than content, to make decisions. Such emotions influence the customers' behavior and reactions, create lasting impressions, and reproduce their emotions and actions in the future. Undoubtedly, this image is exploited in the advertising texts.
Another example is the name of the tour company Sabai Voyage. Sabai (meaning ‘pleasure’ in Thai) is one of the main worldview principles, a state of consciousness that all the Thai people without exception want to feel. It means that there is no need to rush; it is better to relax, enjoy life, and not to overload life with stressful work and thoughts. So the image of Sabai is the comfort, pleasure, and convenience of the physical body, confirmed by the emotion of satisfaction and well-being.
So, advertising regularly correlates with the images of a particular society and their semantic-symbolic constructions.
2) Terms in health and beauty products advertising
Terms frequently appear in advertising texts addressed to Russian-speaking tourists. In Pattaya, one can find a pharmacy with a Russian sign saying
Needless to say that a medical and pharmaceutical term is a common linguistic means in advertising texts of health and beauty products. Here are a few examples of Russian terms and term phrases:
The use of terms in specific advertising topics related to health and beauty products is an essential argument for the consumers. Some of them treat their medical conditions via the knowledge they acquire from advertisements. With the help of medical terms, the advertising message becomes more accurate, trustworthy, and, therefore, plausible and convincing for them.
The use of various tropes is the most common and productive LM in advertisements. To prove it we are giving some illustrations:
a) epithets: Effective, economical, refreshing (toothpastes); A fascinating ride on big powerful ATVs off-road (Big ATV Tour); Bag made of young crocodile leather. A classic model, durable and high-quality, convenient for everyday use (Fragola Upstairs); Stunningly beautiful underwater world (Perfect Diver); The oldest Russian restaurant in Pattaya. Exclusive service, favourite dishes, and cosy interior design (restaurant Rasputin); and others.
b) metaphors: Angkor's Smile (excursion program of Sabai Voyage tour agency); Factory of Sweet Dreams (Sweet Dream); Nature's Ambulance (Thai balms); Coldness of sapphires and inaccessibility of topazes from the collection Marine wave (Gems Gallery); Pearl of Jomtien (Dusit Grand Condo condominium); An extraordinary place of calm atmosphere and sedate lifestyle, offering enjoy in the Land of Smiles (private complex White Stone Villas); and others.
In our opinion, metaphors are the most powerful and noticeable tools in interpersonal communication. They expand the capacity, persuasiveness, and expressiveness of the image linked through the advertising text to the advertised product (Xiaqing, 2017). The words and grammar we use in verbal language do not exist in a vacuum. Significant contextual factors alter the meaning of language to consumers, which can have unanticipated consequences for service providers (Sundar et al., 2016).
The use of LM, such as epithets and metaphors, enables creating uniqueness, marketing importance, and a convincing attractive image of the products in the minds of consumers. The frequency of these metaphors and epithets in Thai advertising for Russian-speaking tourists can be primarily associated with their linguistic properties: imagery, appraisal, expressiveness, and the ability to create the corresponding positive verbal image of the product, causing the necessary emotional response in the consumer’s mind.
An advertising text is the result of a communicative-cognitive speech-writing process verbalized through interconnected polysemiotic units designed to achieve the best result in the field of mass communication. The goal of an advertising text is to determine its national-specific character. Having examined the advertising texts of Thai goods and services addressed to Russian-speaking tourists, we conclude that among the most productive LM that create an advertising image are: business naming, epithets, and metaphors. They have plentiful opportunities for the accurate and objective transfer of the content of marketing information and the formation of an emotional background for its perception, emphasis on products, and their best properties.
The LM attract and hold the attention of consumers, saturate the text with long-term expressive images, affect associative thinking, being one of the tools for influencing, and sometimes manipulating the mind and thought process. Researchers argue that in the field of marketing, the language creativity – such emotive, evaluative, and figurative means as epithets, cognitive metaphors, rhetorical devices, humor, and other LM – catches the attention as well as generates emotions and desires of the customer. Marketers' attention is directed at signs and symbols, as they may influence a recognition process in the consumers' minds. So they craft meaningful marketing communication messages, utilize communication channels to deliver them, and fulfil a targeted marketing strategy focused on the customers' necessities and desires.
In our opinion, advertising messages that do not factor in the ethnic-national-cultural specifics of the target audience risk being ineffective. Therefore, taking into account the cross-cultural factor is of great importance when creating a product advertising image and selecting the LM. Advertising of Thai goods and services targeted at Russian-speaking tourists meets these requirements successfully. Russian verbal and visual images in Thai advertisements have a positive impact on the advertising effectiveness due to the cooperation of Thai and Russian advertising professionals.
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