The Features of Advertising Language
I. An introduction to Advertising
American Marketing Association (AMA) defines advertising as “the non-personal
communication of information usually paid for and usually persuasive in nature about products, services or ideas by identified sponsors through the various media.” Today, with the development of the technology and the diversity of the mass media, advertising has influenced us pervasively in our daily life. However, whatever the promotive strategies advertising takes, language is the main carrier of message all along, as The Language of Advertising, by Vestergaard & Schroder, says, “Advertising takes many forms, but in most of them language is of crucial importance.” Advertising language is a style of immediate impact and rapid
persuasion. The point of an advertisement is to persuade you of the merits of a particular product or service, in order that you will take out some of your money. 2. Advertising Components:
According to the definition of the advertising, most of the advertisements should have the following components:
the advertiser is the sender of information and all the advertising activities should be consistent with the purpose and willingness of the advertiser. Therefore, the advertiser is the main body of advertising, namely, every advertisement should have its specific owner of the advertising information. The specific owner should be a recognizable group, including corporation, enterprise, government, organization and individual. There are three significances of an advertiser (both for the advertiser themselves, and for the public): firstly, it‟s easy for the target audience to recognize the company and the products of it, which will promote the propagandas and the sale of its products; secondly, it will establish a high reputation for the group, enterprise, or the individual in order that the consumer will trust the brand; finally, it will prevent the advertiser from counterfeiting and deceiving by legal supervision.
(2). A certain amount of money paid
the advertising fees are paid by the advertiser no matter it‟s operated by itself or other agency. Because advertising is a kind of marketing action, an advertiser has to pay for its advertisement. There are quite a few people who consider that too much advertising fee will inevitably raise the price and cost of the product, and thereby will influence the sale of the product. However, this conclusion is a one-sided view. Advertising can bring you a huge profit by reasonable planning and proper operation.
(3). Advertising Information
Advertising information is the principal contents an advertisement wants to disseminate. Advertising is a serious of planning action, so the information of advertising should be aimed at the certain target market and consumers, and should avoid aimlessness. The dissemination of information should be accurate, definite, recognizable and moderate in length. An effective advertisement involves not only
“what to say”, but also „how to say”.
(4). Advertising Media
Media are the means of the dissemination of advertising, including newspaper, magazine, broadcast, TV program, billboard and mail. The newspaper, magazine, broadcast and TV are called the four main media of advertising. Moreover, any kind of objects or tools can be a medium for the advertisement, such as airplane, train, bus, building, neon light, movie, package, exhibition, and etc. Different kinds of media have different features, disseminating area, target audience and speed. (5). Nonpersonal
Advertising is not aimed at any individual, or by any individual. It‟s a nonpersonal transmission of information aiming at the public or a certain group of people. Because of the nonpersonal features of advertising, the dissemination and operation of it should be restricted by the law of a country, the moral standards, psychology, zoology, and environment protection. The information, methods, media, and other components of advertising should abide by the advertising laws, policies and rules, and should be under the supervision of the public.
All of these components are mutual features and essential elements of every advertisement.
3. Advertising Functions:
What kind of advertisement is successful? And what features a successful advertisement should possess? American Marketing Manager‟s Handbook points out that an advertisement should have four functions: AIDA, which represent four words—Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.
(1). Attention—a good advertisement should attract the consumer to direct their attention to the product of it.
(2). Interest—the introduction and publicity of an advertisement should arouse consumers‟ GREat interest.
(3). Desire—the publicity of advertising should stimulate consumers‟ desire to buy the product, and make them realize that this product is just what they want. (4). Action—the advertising makes consumer to response to the advertising
information and evoke them to take the action of purchasing.
II. Features of Advertising
the wide use of advertising has created a special style of English—advertising English.
Its unique features, simple language and immense attraction separate it from other kind of language. In the development of advertising English, this kind of language has formed its own features in several aspects.
1. English Morphology in Advertising
As a means to disseminate information, advertising English must be compact, vivid, visual, emotional and attractive. therefore, morphology in advertising is quite different from common English.
(1). Simple and informal
the function of advertising is to provide information, attract consumer, exploit market, and promise the quality. Therefore, advertisement must pay attention to its impelling language, and the first step is to use popular and oral language to make it easy to
understand and memorize.
“I couldn‟t believe it, until I tried it!”
“I‟m impressed! I‟m really impressed!”
“You‟ve gotta try it!”
“I love it!”
This is an advertisement of a microwave oven. the words in it are very simple and oral. It uses the slang “gotta”, which means “got to” in American English, to give an impression that this advertisement comes from the real life.
(2). Misspelling and Coinage
In some of advertisements, the advertising copywriter misspells some words on purpose, or adds some suffix or prefix to the common words. Although the new words still keep the original meanings, they are quite different from the original words in spelling, which will make the advertisement more vivid, interesting and attractive. e.g. We know eggsactly How to sell eggs.
In this advertisement, “eggsactly” is the variation of “exactly”, and echo the word “eggs” at the end of the sentence.
the Orangemostest Drink in the world.
In this drink advertisement, the word “orangemostest” actually is “orange+most+est”. It uses this word to express the high quality and purity of the drink. the coinage and misspelling are also representing in some phrases, such as: First of all, because now Yoplait is thicker.
Second of all, because it‟s creamier.
Third of all, because it‟s still 100% natural and really very good for you.
Fourth of all, because to me Yoplait tastes better than all the other Yoyurts. And fifth of all, because…well, just because
In this advertisement, the copywriter imitate the phrase “first of all” to create “second of all, third of all, fourth of all…”, which will inspire consumers‟ imagination.
In addition, some prefixes or suffixes like “super-”, “ex-”, “-er”, “-est” …etc, are
often used to stress the high quality of the product.
the most frequently used loanwords are French and Spanish. For example: Order it in bottles or in cans.
Perrier…with added je ne sais quoi.
the meaning of “je ne sais quoi” is “I don‟t know what”. The purpose to use this
simple French is to show the French flavor of this drink. The loanwords in some advertisement are good methods to express the exoticism of the products. (4). Contraction
Because the advertisement fees are so high that it‟s essential to use some contraction
to cut short the length, and reduce the cost.
To Let or For Sale
Furnished Edinburgh Court, 426 Argyly st, 2nd floor, 1,630 sqft4 bedrooms with dining and living room, prive garage. Sale at 130,000. Rent 1,400. Tel, 38954 office time or 823748.
This is an advertisement to rent or sell a house. there are many contractions, such as: st=street, sq=square, ft=foot, Tel=telephone.
(5). Use of verbs
Although the ultimate purpose of advertising is to persuade consumers to buy its products, advertisements seldom use the word “buy” in it. Statistics show only two out of ten advertisements use the verb “buy” directly. On one hand, the advertisers try their best to promote their product; on the other hand, they don‟t want to give the consumers a feeling of spending their money. Therefore, the choice of verbs is very careful in advertising.
the most frequently used 20 verbs and phrasal verbs are:
Try, ask, get, take, let, send for, use, call, make, come on, hurry, see, give, come, remember, discover, serve, introduce, choose, and look for.
Getting places in the business world is easier if your banker is there to meet you. --Security Pacific Asian Bank.
We can give you a better view of investment opportunities from both sides of the Pacific.
(6). Use of Adjectives
the most frequently used adjectives are:
1.new 2. crisp 3. good/better/best 4. fine 5. free 6. big 7. fresh 8. GREat 9. delicious 10. real 11. full, sure 12. easy, bright 13. clean 14. extra, safe 15.special 16. rich
(7). Use of Compound words
there are lots of compound words in advertisement mainly because the element of compound words could be any part of speech, and has few limits in grammar and word order.
the following are the main ways of word forming:
adj+noun: short-term goal, high-fashion knitwear
noun+adj: the farmhouse-fresh faste, brand-new
noun+v-ed: honey-coated sugar puffs, home-made
adj/adv+v-ed: warm-hearted, perfectly-testured cakes
noun+v-ing: a relief-giving liquid, record-breaking
adj+v-ing: innocent-looking, fresh-tasting milk
adv+v-ing: hard-working, the best-selling soft toilet tissue
noun+noun: economy-size shredded wheat, a state-of-the-art cell sorcer adv+noun: up-to-the-minute sculling
2. English Syntax in Advertising
(1). More simple sentences, less complex sentences
It will get better effect to use simple sentences than compound sentences, because the readers will get bored on reading complex sentences. Another reason is to reduce the cost of advertising, and effectively stimulate the consumers.
(2). More interrogative sentences and imperative sentences
According to statistics, in every 30 sentences there is one interrogative sentence. Because interrogative sentences are quick and effective to arouse readers‟ response.
The following is an advertisement of Lurpark Danish butter:
What‟s so special about Lurpark Danish butter? Well, can you remember what butter
real fresh farm house butter? Do you remember how you used to used to taste like —
enjoy it when you were young? Today — the taste of Lurpark bring it all back to you
— that‟s why it‟s so special.
the imperative sentences have a meaning of claiming, calling and commanding, similarly the goal of advertising is to persuade and urge consumers to accept its product or service. Therefore, there are lots of imperative sentences in advertising, such as:
Get ready to encounter the new trend in timepieces.
the Citizen Espreme Collection.
Watches that are indicators of tastes and moods. that express you.
(3). Disjunctive Clause
Disjunctive clause is unique for advertising English, which separates a long, complex sentence into several simple sentences by using full stop, dash, semi-colon, hyphen, etc. Those sentences are independent in form, but are related in the content. The use of disjunctive clause could add more information and save more space and money. The separated parts are usually the features of the product, so that they could emphasize the good points of the product.
there is an example of Amtrak, which has successfully used the disjunctive clauses: Amtrak has created a new. nationwide passenger rail system. Literally from the ground up. A system that represented a viable alternative for people who fly. For business or pleasure.
(4). Minor Clause
Minor clause has simple elements, which could lay stress on the key words. It could not only reduce the length and cost, but also disseminate information more effectively. More than a timepiece, An acquisition.
So come into McDonald‟s and enjoy a Big Mac Sandwich.
3. Rhetorical Devices in English Advertising
Rhetorical devices are variations of literal or ordinary form of expressions. their use is to make the thought more striking and effective, for they have the power to vivify and illustrate. A fresh, apt rhetorical device appeals to the imagination, creates mental pictures and makes the speech or writing vivid, impressive and interesting. For this reason, advertisers often use various rhetorical devices to increase the readability and appeal of an advertisement and to arouse consumers‟ interest of buying the product.
Personification is a figure of speech in which inanimate objects or abstractions are endowed with human qualities or are represented as possessing human form. the use of personification in advertising will endow the product with human emotion, and will
make them amicable to consumers.
Flowers by Interflora speak from the heart.
We are proud of the birthplaces of our children, the grapes of Almaden. On our classic varietal wines, you will find the birthplaces of our children. --Almaden
(2). Simile and Metaphor
Simile is a figure of speech in which two essentially unlike things are compared, often in a phrase introduced by like or as.
Light as a breeze, soft as a cloud.
Ride like a feather in your pocket.
Metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison. Go for the Gold
the brightest star in electronics.
Pun is a play on words, sometimes on different senses of the same word and sometimes on the similar sense or sound of different words.
Ask for More
Spoil yourself and not spoil your figure.
A Deal with Us Means A Good Deal To You.
In some advertisements, the copywriters often use the method of repetition to stress certain information.
When you‟re sipping Lipton, you‟re sipping something special.
Rhyming is correspondence of terminal sounds of words or of lines of verse. Pepsi-Cola hits the spot,
Twelve full ounces, that‟s a lot,
Twice as much for a nickel, too,
Pepsi-Cola is the drink for you.
III. Advertising Elements
A complete written advertisement (newspaper, magazine) is usually composed of headline, body copy, slogan, illustrations and colors, trademark, and brand name. these elements are named as visual elements. Another kind of elements—audio
elements are advertising commentary, advertising music and advertising sounds. In these elements, headline, body copy and slogan are the most important elements in an advertisement.
Headline is the theme and center of advertisement. It‟s usually in the most
conspicuous position of advertisement to attract consumers‟ attention. Therefore, headline is crucial to the success of advertisement. But what kind of headline is a
good headline? There are 7 principles for headline writing:
(1). Hit on what readers like, and make them feel it will benefit them. When people are reading advertisement, they always wish to find something good to them. So to give the reader a feeling of getting benefits will have the best result in advertisement.
Every time we race, you win.
This is an advertisement for Yamaha electronic organ. It tells the consumer that every price war in the industry will benefit the consumers out of question. (2). Try to introduce new things.
Any new product, new concept or improvement of old product will effectively attract readers‟ attraction. the words “new” and “free” are the most frequently used word in advertisement.
(3). Try to include the name of trademark in the headline.
(4). Use words that could arouse readers‟ interest.
(5). Keep moderate length.
A research by Institute of the Retailer Business Researching of New York shows that: headlines that have more than 10 words usually have better effect than short headlines. The most effective headlines have 6 to 12 words.
(6). Avoid to use vague words.
(7). Avoid to use privative words.
there are many ways to write a headline, and 5 types often appear in written advertisement:
(1). Straightforward headlines
This kind of headlines usually uses interrogative sentences and imperative sentences to arouse readers‟ interest.
Ever wander why most guys in pants ads are standing up?
Discover the wonder of your first Dash wash!
(2). News headlines
Pursuing new things is the nature of human beings. People are always interested in finding some new products or improvement of old products. Therefore, news headlines could attract consumers‟ attention better.
Introducing Renunt Freshell, the New wave in Air Fresheners.
(3). Information headlines
Example: Datsun saves about a gallon of gasoline a day.
(4). Emotional headlines
Example: Soft shoes for hard world.
(5). Curiosity headlines
Example: Saturday night On Sunday Morning.
2. Body copy
After their attention has been attracted to the advertisement by headline, the readers will move to the body copy, which is the main part of advertising information, to find something useful. Whether an advertisement has met the consumers‟ requirement, satisfied their desire, and stimulated them to take action are the factors to judge a good advertisement.
there are 5 kinds of body copy writing.
(1). Straight-line Copy
This kind of body copy is to objectively state the features and advantages of the product.
(2). Question Copy
Question copy is to use a serious of questions in the beginning of the advertisement, and then give positive answers to each question. Moreover, all of these answers are just the good points or advantages of the product.
(3). Narrative Copy
This body copy is to introduce a product by telling a story, which will obviously increase the interest and attraction of the advertisement.
(4). Extend Knowledge Copy
This form of advertisement is to state the scientific knowledge that is correlative to the information of the product. The consumer will feel the product is creditable and advanced.
(5). Testimonial Copy
Testimonial copy is to make up a speaker, or take out a real witness to judge and praise the product.
(6). Similar Copy
Similar copy is to compare the product with other brand of product, which will make the strength of the product more prominent.
Slogan, which is also known as taglines, shares some similarities with headline, because some slogans come from successful headlines. Explicit, refined and inflammatory are the features of slogan.
the principle of slogan writing is:
the slogan of an advertisement should be brief. Normally no more than 10 words. (2). Point out the advantages and arouse the readers‟ interest
the slogan should be inflammatory to urge the readers take action. VI. Classification of Advertisements
By using the above principles and forms of writing advertisement, we could easily find a way, which we believe is the best one, to write an advertisement. The headline may be attractive, the body copy may be persuasive, and the slogan may be memorable. All the details are perfect in linguistic direction. However, the result may not be well pleasing. But why? One answer is that we may have forgotten which kind of target audience we are pleasing, or what kind of product we are selling. The process of finding a proper position for advertisements is classification. We must analyze the features of different kinds of advertisements, in order to find a proper position for our own advertisement, and choose methods fit it best. the advertisements can be classified into four groups by factors as target audience, functions, and product types. The four groups are Consumer Advertising, Business Advertising, Service Advertising, and Public Interest Advertising. There will be 20
advertisements chosen at random from newspapers, magazines, and other advertising books, for each group to help the analyses.
1. Consumer Advertising
Most television, radio, newspaper and magazine ads are consumer advertisements. they are sponsored by the manufacturer of the product or the dealer who sells the product. They are usually directed at the ultimate consumer of the product or at the person who will buy the product for someone else‟s use. For example, a magazine advertisement for Coca-Cola may be aimed at both the purchaser and the consumer. A commercial for dog food on television, however, is aimed at the purchaser, not the consumer, of the product.
the consumer advertising includes alcoholic ads, cigarette ads, drink ads, food ads, wear ads, cosmetic ads, automobile ads, home electric appliance ads, and other products which are used and purchased by ordinary people. To this kind of advertisements, most people have developed a kind of ambivalent psychology. On one hand, they are bored with the endless advertisements hiding in the newspapers and magazines, clamoring on the radio, or dazzling on the TV. On the other hand, they still need the information to guide their purchasing. Therefore, to attract the consumers‟ attention is the most important task for an advertising copywriter. Headline is the first, or maybe the only component to the reader, so whether the headline is attractive determine whether the reader will read further or skip to another page. The statistic shows that the average words of 20 consumers advertisement is 10.66, and the most frequently used headline writing ways are emotional (30%) and curiosity (30%) headlines. It means that emotional and curiosity ways are more effective and usually used to arouse readers‟ interest. They incline to use
comparatively longer headline, whereas only 25% of them include the brand of the products. This point shows that the advertisers are not hurry to sell their product on appearance (although their purpose is so). They don‟t want to give the reader an
impression that the advertiser attend to sell their product but a feeling that they want to give benefit to the consumer.
After the readers have been attracted, how could the body copy persuade them? The statistic proves that all the writing methods could be the best for a consumer advertisement. The 20 advertisements have used almost all the writing methods, morphology, syntax and rhetorical devices as I have introduced above. The detailed data is that: 35% of those advertisements are straight-line copies, 30% are extend knowledge copies, 25% are testimonial copies, and 5% for both question copy and narrative copy. The most frequently used morphology is compound words, which account for 55% of the 20 ads. The most frequently used rhetorical devices are metaphor and personification (both are 40%). The statistic shows that copywriters have much more space to express their thoughts in consumer advertising, but their only purpose is to convince consumers to buy their product—at any cost.
When the consumers have the desire to buy the product, a good slogan to let them remember its brand also plays an important role. The average slogan words of the 20 ads are 5.2, and 60% of them include their brand into the slogans. From this point we can understand that striking and deep impression needn‟t many words. However,
many advertisement writers still try to find a room for the brand name in the 5-word-long slogan lest the reader should only remember the slogan and forget the brand.
2. Business Advertising
Business advertising is often said to be invisible, because unless you are actively involved in some business, you are unlikely to see it. the majority of advertising you see as a consumer appears in mass consumer media. Business advertising, on the other hand, tends to be concentrated in specialized business publications or a professional journal, in direct-mail pieces mailed to business establishments, or in trade shows held for specific areas of business. Until recently, business advertising was rarely seen in the mass media.
People in business comprise the target audience for business advertising. There are four distinct types of business advertising: industrial, trade, professional, and agricultural.
Industrial advertising is aimed at individuals in business who buy or influence that purchase of industrial goods. Industrial goods include those products and service that are used in the manufacture of other goods (plants, machinery, equipment, etc.) or become a physical part of another product (raw materials, semi-manufactured goods, components, etc.). Industrial goods also include those that are used to conduct business and do not become part of another product, like capital goods (office machines, desks, operating supplies) and business services for which the user contracts.
Manufacturers use trade advertising—the advertising of goods and services to
middlemen—to stimulate wholesalers and retailers to buy goods for resale to their customers. Some items advertised to the trade, such as office equipment, store fixtures, or specialized business services, might be bought for use in the middleman‟s own business.
Individuals who are normally licensed and operate under a code of ethics or professional set of standards—such as teachers, accountants, doctors, dentists,
architects, engineers, and lawyers—are called professionals, and advertising aimed at
them is called professional advertising. Professional advertising has three objectives: (1) to convince professional people to buy items (e.g., equipment and supplies) by brand name for use in their work. (2) to encourage professionals to recommend or prescribe a specific product or service to their clients or patients, and (3) to persuade the person to use the product personally.
Farmers are consumers, of course, but they are business people, too, and as such they make up the audience for farm (or agricultural) advertising. The objectives of farm advertising are (1) to establish awareness of a particular brand of agricultural goods based on quality and performance, (2) to build dealer acceptance of the product, and (3) to create a preference for the product by showing the farmer how the product will increase efficiency, reduce risks, and widen profit margins.
the average words of headline for business advertising are 11.05, and the most frequently used headline writing form is news headlines, which is 30% of the 20 advertisements. 35% of them include their brands into the headlines. In the body