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Visual Strategies in U.S. and Chinese TV Ads
Unformatted Document Text:  20 motivations would translate into social interactions. But the process may not be as simple. It is possible, for example, that individualism is best manifested in a group setting. Where contrasts and comparisons between individuals are present, the personality of an individual then stands out. As in a lot of beer commercials in the US, a person’s choice of beer often is the sexual attraction in a crowded bar, because his is different from others. The distributions of advertised products and services in the two countries showed a large amount of discrepancy. In the US, the most advertised categories were services, autos, food and beauty-care. Most seemed to be related to a large extend to individual needs, freedom and appearances (see bar chart in Appendix 2). In China, the top categories were appliances, medicine and food, which had more to do with home and daily survival than personal wants and needs. Of course, whether this is effect of the economy or a manifestation of individualism and collectivism is open to debate. For example, one can certainly argue that the economy in China is such that an automobile is too much a luxury for an average Chinese. The distribution of the advertised category is simply a reflection of the country’s economy. While this is a reasonable argument, we think a country’s culture necessarily will color its economy. Consequentially, a collectivistic society features fewer ads catering to individual needs. Whatever the case, our understanding of visual communication strategies remain a fertile field for research. Comparing different cultures and how these strategies are used and how culture values are translated into visual images is an endeavor that deserves more investigation. Ours is the first step looking at the overall differences between the

Authors: Xue, Fei., Zhou, Shuhua. and Zhou, Peiqin.
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motivations would translate into social interactions. But the process may not be as
simple. It is possible, for example, that individualism is best manifested in a group
setting. Where contrasts and comparisons between individuals are present, the personality
of an individual then stands out. As in a lot of beer commercials in the US, a person’s
choice of beer often is the sexual attraction in a crowded bar, because his is different
from others.
The distributions of advertised products and services in the two countries showed
a large amount of discrepancy. In the US, the most advertised categories were services,
autos, food and beauty-care. Most seemed to be related to a large extend to individual
needs, freedom and appearances (see bar chart in Appendix 2). In China, the top
categories were appliances, medicine and food, which had more to do with home and
daily survival than personal wants and needs. Of course, whether this is effect of the
economy or a manifestation of individualism and collectivism is open to debate. For
example, one can certainly argue that the economy in China is such that an automobile is
too much a luxury for an average Chinese. The distribution of the advertised category is
simply a reflection of the country’s economy. While this is a reasonable argument, we
think a country’s culture necessarily will color its economy. Consequentially, a
collectivistic society features fewer ads catering to individual needs.
Whatever the case, our understanding of visual communication strategies remain
a fertile field for research. Comparing different cultures and how these strategies are used
and how culture values are translated into visual images is an endeavor that deserves
more investigation. Ours is the first step looking at the overall differences between the


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