Cross-cultural perspectives on advertising: A comparative analysis of social media campaigns in Italy, Germany and Finland

Cross-cultural perspectives on advertising: A comparative analysis of social media campaigns in Italy, Germany and Finland

In our globalised world, international and multinational corporations demonstrate significant attention and sensitivity towards tailoring advertising messages to specific cultural contexts. While the distinctive aspects of each country where a product or service is promoted may be readily apparent from sociological, anthropological, and cultural perspectives, the expression of these nuances through language is less overt. In this regard, cross-cultural pragmatics plays a crucial role in both crafting and evaluating tailored advertising messages, aiming to accurately reflect the recipients’ worldview (Trebucchi 2022).

Our research aims to explore how cultural sensitivities and language use intersect in persuading potential consumers. We analyse advertising campaigns in three culturally and linguistically diverse European countries – Italy, Germany, and Finland. The study focuses on social media posts from 2023 on the Italian, German, and Finnish Instagram pages of two multinational companies: the German Volkswagen and the Swedish Ikea. Basing our analysis on Hall’s (1959) high and low context cultures model, the six cultural parameters proposed by Hofstede et al. (2014) and Lewis’ (2006 [1996]) LMR (Linear-active, Multi-active, Reactive) model, we aim to qualitatively evaluate how the advertising messages take the recipients into account primarily considering the type of data the public expects and appreciates, the communicative style and the culture-specific references.

We expect to detect differences in the way messages are conveyed both verbally (rhetorical figures, implicit constructions, speech acts) and non-verbally (images, colours, use of emojis) (see among others, Lombardi Vallauri 2019). From a preliminary analysis, we observed that the communication style adopted for the Italian audience involves more implicit forms and emojis. In contrast, the German approach is more explicit, focusing on detailed product presentation. The Finnish communication style includes implicit forms (such as passive and zero-person constructions) and surprisingly emphasises emotional states and traditions.



Hall, E. T. (1959). The Silent Language. New York, Doubleday & Company.

Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G. J., & Minkov M. (2014). Culture e organizzazioni. Valori e strategie per operare efficacemente in contesti internazionali. Milano, FrancoAngeli.

Lewis, R. D. (2006 [1996]). When cultures collide: leading across cultures. Boston-London, Nicholas Brealey International.

Lombardi Vallauri, E. (2019). La lingua disonesta: contenuti impliciti e strategie di persuasione. Bologna, Il Mulino.

Trebucchi, T. (2022). Lo sguardo della pragmatica cross-culturale sulla comunicazione pubblicitaria: uno studio di caso italo-tedesco. Rhesis. International Journal of Linguistics, Philology and Literature, 13(1), 100–123.