Comprende Code Switching? Young Mexican-Americans’ Responses to Language Alternation in Print Advertising

Melissa Bishop

University of New Hampshire

Mark Peterson

University of Wyoming


Advertisers often employ foreign words in marketing communications in attempts to influence the audience’s perception of the advertised product.

For example, an Italian brand name or word may be inserted into an advertisement in the United States to make the product appear more “chic,” or a German brand name or word may used to give the perception of quality and reliability (LeClerc, Schmitt, and Dube, 1994).

Alternatively, in Japan, using English words in television commercials and print advertising increases perceptions of modernity and sophistication of the advertised products (Takashi, 1990). When facing an increasingly multicultural market in the United States, however, many marketers remain mystified by the advertising decisions they face (Korzenny, 2008). The complexities accompanying decisions about inserting foreign words in domestic advertisements targeted to bilingual consumers now is only beginning to be understood (Luna and Peracchio, 2005a).