Accents Speak Louder Than Words: A Study on How Language and Accent in Video Commercials Affect Brand Perception

Sofie Lindblom & Julia Wilhelmsson

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

As part of the globalisation, English has gained the status of being a lingua franca, an international language that is spoken all around the world. Increased use of English, and increased proficiency among speakers, opens new gates for businesses. However, it also raises new questions for companies to consider in terms of what language to use in their business in general and in their marketing in particular. Therefore, this study assessed how different languages and accents used in video commercials affect consumers’ perception of, and attitudes towards, the advertised brand. In addition to this, the study investigated how these findings can be used in practice. Four video commercials were created with four different voiceovers; Swedish, American, British and Australian. Besides the voice-over, the commercials were identical. A quantitative study was conducted using a survey, in which the respondents were first exposed to one of the commercials and then were asked about their perceptions (brand personality, source credibility and likability) of the brand and their attitudes (attention and purchase intention) towards it. Differences were found, both between Swedish and English, and among the three different English accents. When looking at the Swedish commercial, the brand was perceived as more attractive and the respondents paid more attention to the message. However, the English commercials yielded higher likability and the brand was perceived as more competent. When comparing the three English accents many differences were found. In terms of perception, the brand was perceived as trustworthy, exciting, and competent by respondents who were exposed to the American version. The British commercial elicited feelings of the brand being charming and sincere while the Australian version sparked associations of the brand being rugged and outdoorsy. In terms of attention, the British commercial outperformed the other versions, while the American one resulted in a higher purchase intention. The results of the study have several implications for companies’ marketing tactics. Whether a company is considering standardizing or localizing its marketing communications, or whether it is looking to enhance its brand personality, and thus brand image, considerations must be made regarding what language or accent to use in commercials. Moreover, with the vast amount of consumer data available for companies today, it is believed that increased knowledge on brand perception can enable customized communications, not only for new markets but also for the individual consumer.

EducationsMSc in International Marketing and Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2018
Number of pages165