So Where the Bloody Hell Are You? Et speciale om forholdene bag- og årsagerne til en kontroversiel reklamekampagne

Josefine Amanda Munkø Lindholdt

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

So Where the Bloody Hell Are You? – A thesis dealing with the reasons behind a controversial advertising campaign The on-going globalization of the world leaves companies cooperating worldwide to learn the art of communicating across cultures. These companies seem to face a challenge in cooperating internationally, as they are expected to embrace cultural differences as well as differences in language- use and understanding when they are working across cultures. It seems necessary for the companies to be able to see and understand other people’s interpretations due to differences in backgrounds and cultures. The Australian organisation Tourism Australia tried to succed in that when they launched their international advertising campaign ”So Where the Bloody Hell are You?” in 2006. This campaign was focused on proposing more foreign tourists to travel to Australia. The slogan seemed not only to attract attention but was subsequently the source of heavy debate about the campaign in countries all over the world. The receivers found the advertising video provocative and offensive which led to several complaints and bans of the video in The United Kingdom, Canada and The United States. Tourism Australia tried to explain the use of words in the campaign as humoristic, distinctly Australian and as slang they use in everyday life. The campaign failed and at last it was called it back in 2008. The bans of the video and the debate concerning the campaign seem to have roots in the different cultural backgrounds of the receivers. Ironically, at the same time it seems like Tourism Australia have not found it necessary to customize the campaign to it’s different markets and that they have not considered the possibility of different interpretations of the video. The main goal of this thesis is to find out which linguistic and semiotic signs have led to the critique of the campaign, and if differences in the receivers’ cultural backgrounds have influenced the way the campaign was received. If so, how has the cultural differences effected the campaign? Subsequently I discuss the results of the analysed areas with focus on how language seem to be used and interpreted differently according to the cultural background. The theoretical framework for this thesis is primarily based on critical discourse analysis and consists of Norman Faircloughs’ three-dimensional model of critical discourse analysis. To complement the critical discourse analysis I use several other theorists in my search to find the linguistic and pictorial elements that could have caused the offensive effect of the campaign. I have used Roland Barthes and Charles Sanders Pierces theories of semiotics and I have combined Faircloughs analysis of social practice with the cultural theory of Geert Hofstede to analyse the national culture of the Anglo-Saxon countries I have selected for research. Further, the thesis also draws on Danish sociologist Elisabeth Plums theory of cultural intelligence. The method used in this thesis is a qualitative research method where I have focused on building a case on several newspaper articles and information about the campaign. The analysis of the video and the pictures show that no pictorial elements alone have caused the interpretations of the campaign as offensive. However, I have found that the sentence ”So Where the Bloody Hell are You?” in combination with the advertising video are the main reason for the critique and the bans of the video. Subsequent to the semiotic analysis I went on to analysing the national cultures of the selected countries to find out whether differences in their cultural backgrounds can explain the different interpretations of the campaign. This analysis showed that according to the theory of Geert Hofstede the countries do not look similar compared on three dimensions of national culture. Therefore, this analysis didn’t offer an explanation to the different interpretations. Furthermore, I discuss why the analysis gives the impression that the four Anglo- Saxon countries are similar, when the case shows differences in interpretation. I discuss how the use of language have two dimensions; the practical and the mental dimension and how this can be an explanation to why the Anglo-Saxon countries share the same language but use differently. I go on and discuss whether use of language is rooted in the different cultural backgrounds of the receivers, even though my analysis didn’t show any main measurable differences in their national culture. Finally, I conclude that it definitely is the language in the campaign that is interpreted as offensive and that it is the use of language in particular that seems to offer an explanation to the problem area of the thesis, as the language is deeply rooted and inseparably linked together with culture.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2013
Number of pages99