When East Meets West: The Effect of Cultural Tone Congruity in Ad Music and Message on Consumer Ad Memory and Attitude

Yung-Cheng Shen
Yuan-ze University

Ting-Chen Chen
Procter & Gamble Co., Taiwan


Global marketing activities frequently need to develop localised advertising campaigns for different markets around the world. In developing these advertising campaigns, cross-cultural elements are often integrated into these ads. For instance, global advertising usually employs local celebrities to endorse products. Cross-cultural elements serve a strategic objective: to better acquaint local consumers with particular products because the familiarity local consumers have with these cultural elements can help reduce the psychological distance between consumer and product.

Besides celebrities, other cross-cultural elements used in global product advertising may exist. One such element is the background music used in television commercials (TVCs). Because music is considered a carrier of culture (see, for example, Albers-Miller & Gelb 1996; Cheng & Schweitzer 1996), using music in global advertising may involve the issue of congruity in cultural meanings. In consumer research that examined the effects of congruity in ad elements (e.g. Bruner 1990) it was generally found that congruity between ad elements could improve consumers' ad memory. For example, Kellaris et al. (1993) found that consumer memory is better when an ad's music and its message are congruent with each other. Houston et al. (1987) also found that memory of an ad improves when the picture and the text copy of an ad deliver the same message.