The Presence of Religious Symbols
and Values in Advertising
University of Houston-Downtown
Reports of investigations into the frequency of religious thought and symbols in advertising are nonexistent. The Refore, little is knownabout religious diversityin advertising, even thoughreligions significantly influence culture in many countries. The primary purpose of this research isto investigate whether advertising content reflects religious symbols and values in print Public ations from a country with astrong religious presence. India was chosen as the country from which to gatherprint advertisements because Hinduism isan integralpart of Indian society.
Although the relationship between religion and advertising has not been studied, the relationship between advertising and other components of culture has been investigated. The Cultural context of an ad may capture lifestyles, demographic characteristics, or values. It isargued that “to create the economic impact of selling goods, advertising operates psychologically, changing attitudes, images, cognitions, feelings and values” (Pollay &Gallagher, 1990, p. 359). Creating culturally congruent advertising can result inmore positive attitudes toward the ad and toward the brand advertised (Zhang&Gelb, 1996).
Cultural Diversityis reflectedinadvertising content to some extent. Gender roles portrayedinadvertising have been the subject of anumber of studies. The relationship between genderroles portrayedinadvertising and cultural context was the focus of two recent studies. A comparison by Browne (1998) of advertising