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Visual Strategies in U.S. and Chinese TV Ads
Unformatted Document Text:  19 innovations and ideas of the west, its traditional values are being challenged. Traditionally, a family of four generations under one roof is touted as the ultimate representation of the perfect family. Now privacy, which used to be non-existent in the Chinese vocabulary, is a hotly debated topic. It is possible that after twenty years of inundation of western thought, the virtue of respecting the old is gradually eroding. On the other hand, research has showed that advertising is mainly targeted to the rich, the young and the beautiful (Zhou, Xue & Zhou, 2002). To appeal to the young and the beautiful, advertisers may consider it more desirable to present images of hustling activities, heavenly fun and cherished independence to persuade their potential young consumers, rather than using images of the young listening attentively to sagely advice and admiring the wisdom of the old. Contrary to our hypothesis, U.S. ads displayed more group images than Chinese ads. The idea is that in a collectivistic society, group consensus is more desirable than individualism and individuals’ goals are group oriented. Consequentially, we thought that this would translate into the prevalence of group images in a collectivistic culture such as China’s. This finding in itself is interesting. We suspect that it might be due to the fact that a number of Chinese ads were relatively short. The shortest U.S. ad was 10 second, however, there were 31 Chinese ads (15.5%) with duration of only 5 seconds, mainly to cut commercial cost. In such a limited time, advertisers want to provide as much product information as possible, which caused the ad to be fast, and frequently, such ads featured only one character instead of a group of people. A more likely explanation, however, lies in our understanding of individualism and collectivism—we theorized that the former was driven by personal goals and the latter was group-oriented. We thought that these

Authors: Xue, Fei., Zhou, Shuhua. and Zhou, Peiqin.
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19
innovations and ideas of the west, its traditional values are being challenged.
Traditionally, a family of four generations under one roof is touted as the ultimate
representation of the perfect family. Now privacy, which used to be non-existent in the
Chinese vocabulary, is a hotly debated topic. It is possible that after twenty years of
inundation of western thought, the virtue of respecting the old is gradually eroding. On
the other hand, research has showed that advertising is mainly targeted to the rich, the
young and the beautiful (Zhou, Xue & Zhou, 2002). To appeal to the young and the
beautiful, advertisers may consider it more desirable to present images of hustling
activities, heavenly fun and cherished independence to persuade their potential young
consumers, rather than using images of the young listening attentively to sagely advice
and admiring the wisdom of the old.
Contrary to our hypothesis, U.S. ads displayed more group images than Chinese
ads. The idea is that in a collectivistic society, group consensus is more desirable than
individualism and individuals’ goals are group oriented. Consequentially, we thought that
this would translate into the prevalence of group images in a collectivistic culture such as
China’s. This finding in itself is interesting. We suspect that it might be due to the fact
that a number of Chinese ads were relatively short. The shortest U.S. ad was 10 second,
however, there were 31 Chinese ads (15.5%) with duration of only 5 seconds, mainly to
cut commercial cost. In such a limited time, advertisers want to provide as much product
information as possible, which caused the ad to be fast, and frequently, such ads featured
only one character instead of a group of people. A more likely explanation, however, lies
in our understanding of individualism and collectivism—we theorized that the former
was driven by personal goals and the latter was group-oriented. We thought that these


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