The language used in advertising

In the context of globalization, more and more international companies are coming to Kazakhstan, and increasingly these companies tend to adapt the texts and TV commercials that have proven to be effective in other markets rather than create new promotional images and plots. Nowadays advertisement is an inevitable part of our lives, we even speak with slogans. Researchers attach great importance to the role of advertising in modern society hence it has a formative impact on the mass consciousness, becoming an integral part of the modern culture.

Advertizing has become a science that is constantly studied and analyzed; people try to detect the principles, find out how language, colors, music and symbols influence customers’ choice, improve the techniques and find new ways of attracting customers’ attention.

Advertising text continues to attract the attention of different linguists due to its specific pragmatics (E Tarasov, 1974, N Tonkova, 1980, L Barkova, 1983, M Tomskaya, 2000, E. Nagornaya, 2003, M. Geis, 1982, G Cook, 1992, Bruthiaux P., 1996). But despite the great number of works devoted to the linguistic analysis of advertising text, so far there is no complex study of this subject.

The aim of this work is to provide an up-to-date account for the language used in advertising from linguistic and stylistic points of view.

The choice of the theme stems from the fact that advertising texts as an object of study proved to be so multifarious and liable to transformations in the course of time, that its study is certainly of great interest, as well as the study of its types characteristics. Obviously the topic can hardly be considered completely studied or outdatedThe relevance of the topic is determined by the need for further study of the language of advertising, which currently is one of the ways involved in shaping the information environment of modern man.


There are different definitions of advertising text. All these definitions have in common the fact, that advertising is any form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods and services, which aims to influence the reader to change or consolidate their relationship to the advertised object.

Famous American advertising specialist, Gillian Dayer, (Dyer G, 1995) notes that the original function of advertising was to express a wide range of consumer goods, however, the author points out that in recent years the function of advertising has changed. It has become a tool in the manipulation of social values and attitudes in society. . It is now aimed at the formation and consolidation of the stereotypes relating our way of life, outlook and morality, which is an integral part of the formation of public consciousness [1].


There are different ways of advertising texts classification three of which are the most traditional and are based on the following criteria:

  1. the object of an advertisement;
  2. target group;
  3. advertising medium.

Classification of advertising texts considering the object of advertising is based on the systematization of different groups of ad-

vertised goods and services, such as cosmetics, clothing, cars, etc.which allows to identify the conceptual framework of modern advertising. This classification also allows answering such important questions as what are the most frequently advertised goods, if the ways of advertising goods and services are universal etc. All these questions are of great importance for advertising agencies and when translating English advertisements into different languages [2].

The object of an advertisement also has a significant influence on the style of the advertising text. Advertising text tends to show characteristics of the advertised product using the images and the language, for example, advertising style of expensive perfume is usually refined and expressive.

There are the following possible areas of advertising:

  1. economy, manufacturing, finance, trade,
  2. domestic services,
  3. intelligent services: education, medicine, books, press
  4. spectacles
  5. a religion
  6. policy
  7. jurisprudence,
  8. public service ads,
  9. family and interpersonal relationships,
  10. personal and institutional selfpromotion [3]

Advertising texts are also classified according to the orientation to a specific audience: teenagers, young women, business people, etc. Orientation of the advertising text on the target audience is closely connected with the object of advertising: so, advertisement targeting young affluent women is mainly focused on the expensive cosmetics, perfumes, fashion clothes etc. As well as the object of advertising, targeting a certain segment of the mass audience determines the language and the style of the advertising text. Thus, the advertising of cosmetics and perfumes for women in most cases is characterized by sophisticated style full of specific phrases and different means of expression that impart the text a very special sound, a unique tone of voice, even when it comes to advertising in the press.

The next way of organizing advertising texts is classification according to the advertising media. It is divided into the printed (newspapers and magazines), television, radio and the Internet advertising. This classification narrows the focus on the actual characteristics of the advertising text, naturally reflecting the features which are defined by a particular media.

In addition to these features classification of advertising texts according to the advertising media allows to estimate such important factors for the study of advertising as coverage of the audience, the ability of a particular publication or program to reach the target audience, and the cost of publication and distribution of advertising in each media. Thus, the advantage of advertising in the newspaper is an extensive audience coverage at a relatively low cost. An advertisement placed in a magazine focused on a large readership, just reaches the desired audience. Radio advertising combines orientation on the target audience with a sufficiently high reproduction frequency. And finally, television advertising is considered to be the most effective and expensive medium, as it provides a huge opportunity to impact the mass audience [2].


Advertising text has a clear goal to create a good impression about the advertised product, service, company, etc. The main goal is to convince the customer to buy a product because it’s of high quality and is necessary for a customer.

Advertising text shows the list of advantages, characteristics, reasons for buying a product and confirmation that this or that product is the best among similar products. The verbal part of the advertising text has its own internal structure. As a rule, there is the title, the main promotional text and the tagline. The purpose the title is to attract the audience's attention and arouse interest in the advertised product or service. The title contains advertising appeal and main advertising argument, which is subsequently developed in the main part of the advertising text.

The next element of the advertising text is an advertising argument, the purpose of which is to tell customers more about the benefits of the advertised product. The development of the main argument is based on a number of different techniques such as indication of the high quality of the object of advertising, appeal to reasoning, emotional appeal to sense perception, the use of well-known images and stereotypes, underlining extremely favorable terms of sale as well as direct belief in the necessity of acquisition. Mainly, the text length of advertising text varies from relatively small (20-30 words) to a sufficiently expanded (80-100 words) [4].

Basic structure of the advertising text reflects communicative strategy chosen by its writers and may be based on the following communication models:

  1. Inverted pyramid;
  2. Comparison;
  3. The dramatized advertisement with a plot;
  4. Instruction;
  5. Dialogue;
  6. Question or puzzle, a paradox;
  7. Advertisement with famous personalities;
  8. Advertisement involving ordinary consumers.

An inverted pyramid model means that the information is placed from the most important one to the secondary one. The first paragraph of text concentrates the most important and compelling arguments.

Advertisement in the form of comparison is based on a confrontation with a similar product presented by other companies and organizations. The laws of the advertising market prohibit using the name of a competitor company in order not to harm its reputation.

The dramatized advertisement is primarily used in TV commercials since it allows developing a plot or even a series of plots.

Advertising in the form of instruction represents a consistent description of user’s actions executed in the form of instructions, which combines the necessary reasoning with stable, easily recognizable shape of the text.

Communicative model of advertising, dialogue, is successfully used both on radio and television, providing compilers of advertising text unlimited possibilities in the manifestation of originality and wit. Arguments are often presented as a series of interrogative constructions.

Communicative strategy of commercials featuring famous people is based on the consumers' confidence in the celebrities’ praise of the high quality products, as well as the desire to imitate this or that prestigious image.

Advertising based on the testimony of the average consumer is also highly effective and is often used as a communication strategy for the construction of the main advertising text [5].

The verbal part of the advertising text is completed with the so-called tag-line, which also carries a large functional load. First, the tag-line reiterates the main advertising argument, and secondly, it gives the advertising text a sense of completeness. The tag-line tends to name the name of the advertised brand or product and a memorable expression or an advertising slogan.

Expressive features of advertising texts The English language is known for its extensive vocabulary. While other languages have only one or two words with one particular meaning, English may have five or six and the meanings of these words may differ very slightly and in a very subtle way. It is important to understand the connotation of а word. Connotation is the associations or ideas that are suggested by a word, rather than the actual meaning of the word.

The target audience, of course, also puts its own meaning into certain words. Different people sometimes interpret language in different ways.

Both the mass media, when reporting news items, and marketing and advertising personnel have to consider the emotive power of the words they use.

One way, in which advertisers adapt language to their own use, is to take compound words and use them as adjectives. These compounds often later become widely used in ordinary every-day situations. Examples of these compounds which have become part of the English language are: top-quality, economy-size, chocolate-flavored, featherlight and longer-lasting.

Each word in the text should be used reasonably. Only a really suitable, energetic, capacious word should be selected. Abstract words tend to represent concepts that cannot be treated by five senses. They are often made to impact on people’s emotions. It can be different sorts of generalizations, which indicate the class, type, group of objects or phenomena ("reliability""quality""beauty", etc.)

It’s very easy to describe any product with the help of such abstract words as "beautiful", "good", "wonderful", etc. First, however, many advertisers use this method and, consequently, most abstract words become clichés. Secondly, these words do not provide much clarity since the concept of "beautiful""wonderful", etc. for each person is highly subjective. When working on the text advertisers should be aware that generalizations are inconclusive. In order to form their own opinion and decide to effect a purchase, a consumer needs some specific information.

Stylistic features of advertising texts Advertising being a so-called one-way communication (mentioned in a book by Torben Westergaard and Kim Schroeder one-way communication) narrows in a certain way the range of possible mechanisms to influence the audience. Besides, the use of various means to influence the audience in advertising is to some extent limited by ethical standards and legal acts. Therefore advertising texts contain an extremely high concentration of various stylistic devices on a fairly confined space (as one of the characteristic features of the advertising text is brevity).

Although it may seem that the characteristics of advertising are the same regardless of whether it appears in the newspaper, scientific journal or newsmagazine, since all advertising texts are small, they are completely different. That’s why it is sometimes suggested to consider the language of advertising as an independent style built from elements of various functional styles with many layers. The whole idea seems logically inconsistent [2].

Of course, different types of advertising texts have their own peculiarities, but in general, advertising can be referred to a variety of persuasive informative texts. Since the language means of advertising text do not belong to any particular functional style, based on the linguistic descriptions known to date, the advertising text should be considered as a kind of mass communication text.

Some sub styles of advertising have been distinguished:

  1. narrative: advertising is in the form of a story, where a situation is described or played or there is an example from history, and the advertised product occurs at the end as an element solving a difficult situation;
  2. dialogic: advertising is in the form of combination of dialogue and narration or the dialogic speech only;
  3. metaphorical: this style is characterized by the extensive use of poetry, comparisons, hyperbole and humor contrasts [3].

When we study the expressiveness of advertising texts it is important to take into consideration basic stylistic devices used by advertisers at the syntax level which create special stylistic effects.

To obtain good results, especially when creating a slogan, different devices are used at each level. Phonological level is represented with the following devices:

Alliteration, which is used as a special technique of advertising in order to make a text memorable and impressive. E.g. The advert of Allied Irish Bank Service ''Britain's best business bank''

Repetition, used to give the melodic aspect, e.g. the advert of Mc Donald's: ''Billions and billions served''

Rhyme, which is easy to memorize, e.g. The advert of Jolly Alon Hotel Service: ''Only the Best for our guests''

Contrast e.g. The advert of Air Lingus Company: ''Low Fares. Way Better'' [4].

At the lexical level, the main peculiarities are the use of imperative verb forms, personal pronounces and comparative and superlative adjectives and adverbs.

Since the main goal of advertising is to persuade the customer to purchase a product, imperative forms are used very often (Drink Cola, Buy popcorn). The use of the verb is predominant in comparison with other parts of speech. Verbs are about 50% of the words in the advertising text. The most significant feature of the advertising text at morphologic and syntactic level is the frequent use of the imperative form of the verb, which greatly enhances the dynamic advertising message.

Using personal pronoun “you” is a direct appeal to the customer which helps to shorten the distance between the customer and the seller. Besides, using the expressions ''to you…'', ''you are…'' or ''you have to…'' encourage customers and give them the feeling of priority.

The language of advertising is, of course, normally very positive and emphasizes why one product stands out in comparison with another. Advertising language may not always be the "correct" language in the normal sense. For example, comparatives are often used when no real comparison is made.

Advertising texts are usually brief, since the time on TV or radio is very expensive. It usually presents the alternation of long and short sentences to attract customers’ attention. The main ideas are put in short sentences and in the ones following them. An extremely high concentration of various stylistic devices is found in advertising text on syntactical level.

  • Inversion. Inversion is an infallible method of attraction widely used in advertising "Delicious this drink is!")
  • Rhetorical question ("Fit for hiring?", "It's mind over matter?")
  • Use of negative sentences to make the text more expressive (You also won't see no bullhorn, no pink bollworm, no tobacco budworm, no leaf perforation)
  • Use of explicit and implicit simile
  • Linguistic manipulation (BROWN'S IRON BITTERS. A certain cure for diseases requiring a complete tonic, indigestion, dyspepsia, intermittent fevers, want of appetite, loss of strength, lack of energy, malaria and malarial fevers, &c. removes all symptoms of decay in liver, kidneys and bowels, assisting to healthy action all functions of these great organs of life, enriches the blood, strengthens the muscles and gives new life to the nerves).

Allegories, metaphors, similes, parallelisms, allusions, hyperboles, the concentration of imperative verb forms and connotative adjectives are all presented in advertising texts.

Metaphor is a technique in which the characteristics of one object are transferred to another one on the basis of certain resemblance. Metaphor does not only form representation of the object, but also provides a way of thinking about it. Promotional metaphor is laconic and clear [4].

Casuistry and different images, change of spelling and idioms, "wrong" syntax and unusual use of punctuation marks are definitely typical for advertising and often help to create the most expressive and successful advertising messages. Phraseological units are mostly used in modified or contracted forms; some words may be replaced or can have additional meanings. Refocusing rated from negative to positive. Negative evaluation is rare in advertising texts.

Slang and colloquialisms are frequently used in advertising as they create an impression that customer is listening to a friend. As noted in the "Language of advertising texts," "conversational design used to create emotional and expressive color, imagery, clarity and effectiveness of the advertising text, which is intended for the general reader, and therefore it should be close to the structure" [2].

Indeed, advertising texts often are written in such a way that they sound like what you hear in oral speech. The number of possible deviations from the linguistic norms is not limited, as any linguistic rule can be broken in some way. J. Leach in his book «English in Advertising» mentions spelling, grammatical, lexical, semantic and contextual deviations from the linguistic norms.

It should be noted that, despite the attractiveness of stylistic devices described above, linguistic innovations in advertising are not welcomed by everyone. However, breaking the linguistic norms in advertising texts should be held in a certain way, or otherwise an advertising text will turn into a set of wrong misspelled words.

Appeal to the literary, cultural and historical traditions is a very good way for the creators of advertisement to attract customers’ attention. At the same time, these phenomena pose certain difficulties in the interpretation and perception of the text. Use of quotations, allusions, distorted idioms, as well as amended foreign words in advertising requires advertisers’ and recipients’ general background knowledge. This is of particular significance when such phenomena are acquired by advertising products on the international market, as in this case there is a strong need of adaptation of advertising messages based on peculiarities of the worldview of the audience, which is the recipient of the text addressed.

For example, for an adequate perception of the text advertising the company AT & T, it is necessary to understand the meaning of the phrase «No woman is an island, unless she wants to be», which is an allusion to a line from a poem by John Donne «Meditation XVII» «No man is an island, entire of itself ». This phrase means that no one can be in complete isolation from the others, and its allusive use in the advertising text helps to convince potential customers that the company AT & T helps people to get closer to each other.

The image of this or that famous person used in advertising must be known by the audience perceived as an example to follow. The latter remark is especially important because it requires not only the study of cultural values and the world view of the target audience, but also, taking into account that the image and behavior of the personality, can change and sometimes very quickly. Therefore, many advertisers advise to use collective images as Lenya Golubkov or cartoons like The Pink Panther [2].

There are a large number of abbreviations in advertising texts. As for abbreviations occurring in advertising texts, it is necessary to make some remarks. The pragmatic role of abbreviation in particular advertising message should be taken into consideration. If we speak about classified advertising, the abbreviation is used in order to save space and to raise the information content of the text.


In this article we have studied and analyzed the advertising text from linguistic and stylistic points of view and, thus, arrived at the following observation that the language used in advertising may vary depending on many factors such as the media used, the target group, the type of the product or service advertised etc. This topic is constantly studied and is very popular since the advertisers are in search for new ways of attracting customers and is interesting for translators as well.



  1. Dyer G. Advertising as Communication. – London. 1995.
  2. Добросклонская Т.Г. Медиалингвистика: системный подход к изучению языка СМИ DOC. М., 2008. 203 с.
  4. Angela Goddard. The language of advertising Б.м., 2005 (GB)
  5. Goddard A. The Language of Advertising [Текст] /A. Goddar – London, 1998 – 6c.
Year: 2014
City: Almaty
Category: Philology