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Visual Strategies in U.S. and Chinese TV Ads
Unformatted Document Text:  2 they call for effective story telling, creative means to reach the hearts of the consumers and insightful abstractions to convey meanings larger than the ads themselves. It is natural to expect that people in different societies perceive and utilize visual images in accordance to the norms and values of their own culture. Theoretically, visuals and the images they created are both agents and artifacts of human visual behaviors within a society (Newton, 2001). They are agents in the sense that they are part of the cultural dialectic of formation and change and they are artifacts in that they tell us something about a culture, its people and their values. The literature on the visual content of commercials is limited to the examination of certain images—notably stereotypes and sexual images. The former focuses on how certain groups are portrayed in ads and the potential consequences of such depictions. Studies have found, for example, women in TV commercials tend to be tall and slim and such body image induced undesirable effects such as bulimia and anorexia in adolescent youths when they forced themselves to be as slender as the models through rigorous exercising and dangerous dieting (Bretl & Cantor, 1988; Herrett-Skjellum, 1996; Harrison, 2000). On the other hand, racial stereotypes in TV commercials also raised some concerns. For example, African Americans were virtually non-existent in TV commercials until the 1960’s, men were allowed to age while women are not, and that college students were reduced to party animals in beer commercials (Harris, 1999). Other than an examination of the obvious in television commercials, however, little systematic research has been done visual strategies in TV advertising. As Barry (1997) argued, visuals are a means of communication whose power of persuasion runs deeper and whose ability to condition attitudes and change thoughts are more powerful

Authors: Xue, Fei., Zhou, Shuhua. and Zhou, Peiqin.
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they call for effective story telling, creative means to reach the hearts of the consumers
and insightful abstractions to convey meanings larger than the ads themselves.
It is natural to expect that people in different societies perceive and utilize visual
images in accordance to the norms and values of their own culture. Theoretically, visuals
and the images they created are both agents and artifacts of human visual behaviors
within a society (Newton, 2001). They are agents in the sense that they are part of the
cultural dialectic of formation and change and they are artifacts in that they tell us
something about a culture, its people and their values.
The literature on the visual content of commercials is limited to the examination
of certain images—notably stereotypes and sexual images. The former focuses on how
certain groups are portrayed in ads and the potential consequences of such depictions.
Studies have found, for example, women in TV commercials tend to be tall and slim and
such body image induced undesirable effects such as bulimia and anorexia in adolescent
youths when they forced themselves to be as slender as the models through rigorous
exercising and dangerous dieting (Bretl & Cantor, 1988; Herrett-Skjellum, 1996;
Harrison, 2000). On the other hand, racial stereotypes in TV commercials also raised
some concerns. For example, African Americans were virtually non-existent in TV
commercials until the 1960’s, men were allowed to age while women are not, and that
college students were reduced to party animals in beer commercials (Harris, 1999).
Other than an examination of the obvious in television commercials, however,
little systematic research has been done visual strategies in TV advertising. As Barry
(1997) argued, visuals are a means of communication whose power of persuasion runs
deeper and whose ability to condition attitudes and change thoughts are more powerful


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