The Effect of Cultural Orientation on Advertising Effectiveness. a Comparison among Americans, Mexican-Americans, and Mexicans

Article excerpt


The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect that cultural orientation has on advertising effectiveness. The samples are extracted from three different populations: Americans, Mexicans, and Mexican-Americans. A total of 331 usable questionnaires were gathered. Results show that cultural elements in advertising don't have significant impact on advertising effectiveness for neither the American nor the Mexican populations; however, for the Mexican-American population with high Mexican cultural orientation, Mexican cultural elements in advertising have a significant positive effect in advertising effectiveness.


Cultural and national artifacts or elements have become an important economic and marketing attraction (Edson, 2004). Nations and cultures all over the world are gaining importance, not only for the tourism industry, but for the experiences related to different cultures in which people might live. Indeed, cultures survive as long as they have marketable elements that are attractive to be consumed (Firat, 1995).

As members of a community, people have a sense of identification with one or more countries and with one or more cultures (Deshpande et al, 1986; Whittler et al, 1991). The way this sense of identification or belongingness to a community is acquired is beyond the scope of this study; however there is a common believe that this is done by socialization. It is noticeable that we can have more than one citizenship. It is also true that we can identify with more than one culture. The main focus of this paper is to explore how these cultural elements might impact advertising effectiveness.

In advertising, culture-related elements have been used extensively. It is common to observe on TV ads the countries' flags, national sport heroes as spokesmen, and other cultural elements, such as traditions and cultural practices. However, there is no formal study in marketing literature where cultural orientation is considered. By considering not only culture, but also cultural orientation, this paper will shed light on the understanding of the use of cultural elements in ads and how different communities that live in the US can be targeted more effectively.

We are assuming that Americans have American cultural orientation, and Mexicans have Mexican cultural orientation. For the Mexican-American community, we use scale ARSMA (The Acculturation Rating Scale for Mexican- Americans) developed by Cuellar et al. (1995). This scale contains two subscales that measure AOS (American orientation subscale) and MOS (Mexican orientation subscale) of 6 items each.

The importance that this study has for marketing is high. For advertisers, the results of this study will give insights about the proper way to use cultural elements in advertising to ensure effectiveness, and for academicians, this study opens a new stream of research on culture and cultural orientation.


In marketing literature, there has been some research about cross cultural studies related with advertising. For example, Callow and Shiftman (2004) studied print advertising between high and low context cultures. Also the effectiveness of comparative vs. non-comparative advertising has been studied in a cross-cultural settings (Jeon and Beatty, 2002; Shao et al, 2004). Furthermore, there are comparisons between advertising from the US and other countries like Britain (Caillât and Mueller, 1996), Japan (Mueller, 1987), China (Lin, 2001; Zhang and Neelankavil, 1997), and Hispanic/Mexican advertising (Roberts and Hart, 1997).

Similarly, cultural studies deal with the national identities reflected in advertising. Examples include Thai identity (Jory, 1999), Canadian identity (Macgregor, 2003), and Russian identity (Morris, 2005). Also, other studies deal with the effect of language, for example Koslow et al (1994) studied the effect of the Spanish language as an important element for identification as Hispanic. …


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