A Content Analysis of Magazine Advertisements from the United States and the Arab World

Al-Olayan, Fahad S.; Karande, Kiran
September 2000
Journal of Advertising;Fall2000, Vol. 29 Issue 3, p69
Academic Journal
In recent years, a wealth of literature has increased our understanding of cross-cultural differences in advertising content. Abernethy and Franke (1996) point out a gap in literature stating that 'no study has examined the advertising information in any African nation, any part of the Middle East other than Saudi Arabia, or any of the economies in transition associated with the former USSR.' The current study, therefore, investigates differences in content of magazine advertisements from the United States and the Arab world comprising twelve Middle Eastern countries and ten African countries. Differences in the depiction of men and women, the extent of comparative advertising, the extent of information content, and the extent of price information are hypothesized, based on the role of religion in forming values (Luqmani, Yavas and Quraeshi 1987), the level of individualism (Hofstede 1980), and whether the culture is high-context or low-context (Hall 1976), as well as economic differences. One thousand sixty-four ads from Egyptian, Lebanese and United Arab Emirates, as well as pan-Arabic general interest, family, and women's magazines, together with 540 ads from three U.S. general interest, family and women's magazines, were content analyzed. It was found that people are depicted less frequently in Arabic magazine ads. However, in ads in which people are shown, there are no differences in the extent to which women are depicted. In ads in which women are shown, they are depicted wearing long dresses, and tend to be pictured in ads when their presence relates to the advertised product. Also, in ads showing people, there are no differences in the extent to which male models are depicted. U.S. ads have more information content, provide more price information, and use more comparative advertising than Arabic ads. Implications for international marketers wanting to advertise in Arab magazines are offered. Limitations and extensions are also discussed.


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