International Online Marketing Communication Strategies of Global Players. A Linguistic Study with Special Reference to T-Mobile

Diploma Thesis, 2002

169 Pages, Grade: Sehr Gut


Table of Contents

List of figures.


1. Introduction.
1.1 Background and purpose.
1.2 Outline.

2. The fundamentals of international marketing communications applied to T-Mobile’s marketing communication situation.
2.1 International marketing communication defined.
2.2 Internal vs. external communication.
2.3 Standardisation vs. adaptation.
2.3.1 Strategy alternatives of global marketing communication.
2.3.2 Advantages vs. disadvantages of standardization.
2.3.3 Opportunities vs. limitations of standardization.
2.4 Decisions in international marketing communication.
2.4.1 Object of marketing communications.
2.4.2 Branding.
2.4.3 Target group.
2.4.4 Objectives of marketing communications.
2.4.5 International marketing communications implementation strategy.
2.5 Factors influencing international marketing communications.
2.5.1 Selected sociocultural factors. Language. Values and norms.
2.5.2 Other factors influencing global marketing communication.
2.6 Selected tools of international marketing communication.
2.6.1 Advertising. Advertising strategy and execution. Product vs. corporate advertising.
2.6.2 Public Relations.
2.6.3 Sponsoring.

3. Traditional theory of communication.
3.1 The communication process.
3.2 Barriers to communication.
3.3 Forms of communication.

4. International marketing communication – a linguistic approach..
4.1 The communication model applied to marketing communication.
4.2 Challenges for international marketing communications.
4.3 Marketing communication planning.
4.3.1 Types of marketing communication strategies. The persuasive strategy. The image-building strategy. The informative strategy.
4.3.2 Choice of medium..

5. Online marketing communication.
5.1 The World Wide Web.
5.1.1 The hypertext
5.1.2 Language use on the World Wide Web.
5.2 Key Principles of online marketing.
5.2.1 Interactivity.
5.2.2 Interconnection.
5.2.3 Interface.
5.2.4 Involvement
5.2.5 Information.
5.2.6 Individualism..
5.2.7 Integrity.
5.3 Significance of the Internet as an important marketing communication channel in international marketing.
5.3.1 Traditional marketing vs. online marketing.
5.3.2 Types of marketing communications on the Internet

6. Case study: T-Mobile.
6.1 Market background.
6.2 T-Mobile’s global marketing communications.
6.3 T-Mobile: Corpus description.

7. T-Mobile’s international online marketing communication strategies and their linguistic implementation.
7.1 Part I: Analysis of the online product advertising.
7.1.1 Discourse and layout features. The headline. The body copy. Text-based rhetorical devices – product and/or brand name repetition.
7.1.2 Stylistic features. Precision Tone
7.1.3 Lexico-syntactic features. Compounds. Pronouns. Verbs Active and passive. Modal verbs. Sentence length. Sentence structure. Word-based rhetorical devices. Comparative. Superlative. Deconcretisation. Sentence-based rhetorical devices. Hyperbole. Ellipsis. Repetition. Doubling. Parallelism.. Sequence. Commands. Direct address. Understatements. Antithesis. Two-part figure.
7.1.4 Visual aids. Typography. Image and text Other visual aids.
7.1.5 Summary of findings.
7.2 Part II: Analysis of the online corporate advertising.
7.2.1 Discourse and layout features. The headline. The body copy. Text-based rhetorical devices – brand name repetition.
7.2.2 Stylistic features. Precision Tone
7.2.3 Lexico-syntactic features. Compounds. Pronouns. Verbs Active and passive. Modal verbs. Sentence length. Sentence structure. Word-based rhetorical devices. Comparative. Superlative. Deconcretisation. Sentence-based rhetorical devices. Hyperbole. Ellipsis. Repetition. Doubling. Parallelism.. Sequence. Commands. Direct Address. Understatements. Antithesis. Two-part figure.
7.2.4 Visual aids. Typography. Image and text Other visual aids.
7.2.5 Summary of findings.

8. Summary and conclusion.


Appendix A: Online product advertising

Appendix B: Online corporate advertising

List of Figures

Figure 1: The Communication Situation (Vestergaard, 1993: 16) 23

Figure 2: The communication process (Chee/Harris, 1993: 167, slightly modified) 24

Figure 3: The marketing communication situation (following Vestergaard, 1993: 16) 27

Figure 4: Frequently used compound elements (WorldClass) 51


illustration not visible in this excerpt

1. Introduction

1.1 Background and purpose

Looking at the status quo of marketing communications practice a turbulent picture opens up. The substitutability of products and quality requirements of consumers render a differentiation by means of product benefits increasingly difficult. Thus businesses compete ever less on the basis of products, but more and more on the basis of communication. Today marketing communication is a central factor for success. However, societal, technological, economic and global changes create complicating circumstances for marketing communication. A constantly changing business environment thus requires communication problem solutions that will adapt to new market requirements. Moreover, due to the increasing information overload, a dynamic development in the area of media, and a reduced interest in traditional organizational communication it becomes ever more difficult to communicate effectively with potential customers. This task of marketing communications becomes an even more complex exercise in an international environment because it means communicating with consumers across the world. Despite the difficulties of communicating across borders international marketing communication strategies have gained importance because of market globalisation. Since the costs of advertising campaigns are high, marketers are increasingly hoping to be able to implement one strategic concept including visual presentation in different markets (Smith/Klein-Braley, 1997, cf. Smith, 1998: 238). However, this requires knowledge of different market environments, cultural empathy and the willingness to adapt the communication programmes and processes to local requirements. While business management disciplines have investigated into this topic, there has been little linguistic research so far on international marketing communications.

The purpose of this study is to analyse the international online marketing communication strategies of a mobile communications provider that has recently ‘gone global’ from a linguistic point of view. This field of business has so far operated on a local level; through the merger of various companies operating on a national level to form the global player T-Mobile this has become an international business. The present study will compare the linguistic implementation of T-Mobile’s online marketing communication strategies on the corporate as well as two local Internet sites and attempt to filter out possible cross-cultural differences.

Since an analysis of all relevant media would deserve more consideration than the purpose and length of this thesis allow, I wish to focus on just one media, the Internet, as this communication channel is exemplar of the ‘open-strategy’ approach of international marketing communications. While the Internet, on which the present study will focus, is only one medium in a range of media used by T-Mobile for their marketing communications, it is a viable channel that can be used to communicate the consistency in T-Mobile’s image, standards and values to a diverse range of stakeholders as well as making its direct appeal to existing and potential customers. Hence, I have chosen to focus on the Internet because of its wide range of outlook, international dimensions, and combination of verbal and visual strategies that lend themselves to a linguistic analysis. The study will be carried out with a view towards drawing conclusions about to what extent global marketing communications can be standardized and to what extent they have to be adapted to fit cultural requirements

1.2 Outline

In order to provide the background for a linguistic analysis of T-Mobile’s online marketing communications strategies the first section will outline the fundamentals of international marketing communications; these insights will be applied to the particular marketing communication situation of T-Mobile. The second section will briefly outline the traditional theory of communication as a framework for the discussion of advertising messages. In the next section the theoretical model of communication will be applied to the general (international) marketing communication situation. The fifth chapter briefly outlines the characteristics of the new medium ‘Internet’ and its differences opposed to traditional media. These theoretical considerations are deemed to be necessary since a linguistic analysis of marketing communication strategies as a form of discourse relies on both language and context. In chapter 6, I will briefly outline the marketing communication practices of mobile communications providers and include a short description of T-Mobile’s merger and brand migration campaign. Section seven finally contains the linguistic study of T-Mobile’s international online marketing communication strategies. The analysis is divided into two parts, that will be analysed separately: the first part deals with T-Mobile’s online product advertising on the corporate and local websites of the U.S. (United States) and U.K. (United Kingdom) national providers, the second part is concerned with the online corporate advertising on the corporate and local sites respectively.

While the product and corporate advertising analysed differ in terms of their employment of rhetorical devices, they have a similar communicative goal using one or more of the general marketing communication strategies. Both parts of the analysis deal with the question what visual and verbal strategies are employed and to what degree on the corporate and local sites in order to achieve the communicative goal. The analysis of both parts is based on discourse and layout features, stylistic and lexico-syntactic features, including rhetorical devices, as well as visual aids. In every subchapter we will compare the corporate, U.S. and U.K. sites in terms of their employment of a particular feature. Finally the results of both parts will be summarized and drawing on these findings, a conclusion will be attempted as to whether there are cross-cultural differences in the linguistic implementation of T-Mobile’s international online marketing communication strategies and thus whether an ‘open strategy’ approach was taken.

2. The fundamentals of international marketing communications applied to T-Mobile’s marketing communication situation

According to Kotler (1996: 6), marketing is “a social and managerial process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating, offering, and exchanging products of value with others”. The marketing concept holds that the main task of the company is to determine the needs, wants, and preferences of a target group of customers and to deliver the desired satisfactions through goods and services.

A marketing strategy is the general outline of a company’s behaviour in order to achieve the aims of marketing. The marketing mix constitutes the operative components of the marketing strategy, including the product, price, distribution and promotional strategy; they all have to be combined effectively in order to be successful (Meffert: 1998: 1021). Since the focus of this study is on marketing communications we will only look at the promotional or communications mix of marketing.

Communication is a crucial element of marketing. The building of successful brands and brand images in practice has always involved intensive communication; without marketing communication a successful brand cannot be created. In an international context in particular, communication is of vital importance, since brands that are distributed internationally require intensive communication in order to maintain or strengthen their position in an environment of international competition.

2.1 International marketing communication defined

Marketing communications are concerned with “presenting and exchanging information with various individuals and organisations to achieve specific results” (Doole/Lowe, 1999: 414 f.). This means not only that the information must be understood accurately but that, often, elements of persuasion are also required. Thus international marketing communication refers to designing information geared towards home and foreign markets with the aim of influencing the attitude and consumer behaviour of target groups in a positive way by means of transmission of information (Meffert/Bolz, 1994: 179).

By means of a considered marketing communication an efficient targeting is possible and communication costs may be reduced. In a domestic environment the process of marketing communication is difficult enough but the management of international marketing communications is made particularly challenging by a number of factors including the complexity of different market conditions, differences in media availability, languages, cultural sensitivities, legal regulations controlling marketing communications, and the challenge of providing adequate resourcing levels (Doole/Lowe, 1999: 415).

2.2 Internal vs. external communication

The traditional role of international marketing communications was largely concerned with providing a mechanism by which the features and benefits of a product or service could be promoted as inexpensively as possible to existing and potential customers in different countries using the promotion mix with the ultimate purpose of persuading customers to buy specific products or services (Doole/Lowe, 1999: 415). Thus international marketing communications was primarily concerned with external communication, which refers to the communication with customers, suppliers, government and the public. However, in organisations internal communication, too, takes place among staff. Today, the purposes for which marketing communications might be used externally in international markets are now more diverse and include the need to communicate with a more diverse range of stakeholders such as employees.

These diverse external and internal tasks of organisational communication are combined in the concept of ‘Corporate Identity’ that is used to communicate a company’s core values and standards to their internal and external audience/stakeholders (Doole/Lowe, 1999: 418). Corporate Identity is concerned with consistently communicating not just what business the firm is in and what image it wishes to project in the market, but also how it does business. The consistency of this information is reinforced by consistency in the way the company name and logo is presented and applied to the physical appearance of any communications assets of the company, such as signs, staff uniforms, letterheads, various promotional literature etc.

Doole and Lowe (1999: 448) suggest that the underlying identity of a firm, that will show through in everything the firm does, may pose difficulties to the firm’s attempts to achieve consistency and a favourable impact throughout the world because of the different cultural values of its staff and stakeholders in different countries. In the case of T-Mobile these considerations are not so pressing since it brings together only Western and Eastern European companies as well as a Northern American firm and these countries are generally thought to have similar value systems.1

2.3 Standardisation vs. adaptation

The question of standardisation versus adaptation is one of the chief and foremost considerations in international marketing. It has been suggested that businesses will be more efficient if they plan for a global market and therefore standardized their marketing programmes on an international basis. Standardisation considerations in marketing communication refer to unifying the communication tools on a cross-country, international level. However, issues of standardization are usually discussed in terms of advertising and branding.

Neelankavil et al. (1996), in studying the contents of advertisements for language, customs and values in local language magazines in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan observed that with greater liberalisation and increasing convergence of markets there is likely to be a convergence of ideas, cultures, values and even language in advertising (cf. Doole/Lowe, 1999: 424) that in turn results in the global convergence of consumption patterns and target groups. This means that companies may be able to segment markets internationally instead of locally, because in every market despite cultural differences there are consumers with similar characteristics. Some scholars, such as Levitt, go so far as to suggest that cross-cultural differences should be ignored altogether (cf. Wells et al., 1998: 670). While this is a standpoint too radical, the convergence of market environments and consumption patterns and in turn the existence of transcultural target groups is the chief prerequisite for an efficient functioning of global advertising. This, too implies that if typical, cross-country consumers do not exist in the market a global advertising may not be realised. Thus we have to ask which advertising idea or communication campaign is so great, that it may overcome all national, cultural and mental differences.

However, by means of standardizing classic advertising a company may reduce costs and benefit from synergies, such as overlapping of international media, building an international, global image and a uniform differentiation from competitors (Meffert/Bolz, 1994: 208). The core problems of a standardized advertising are limitations placed upon the creative latitude through cross-cultural differences, legal regulations, and the status of certain media in different countries.

2.3.1 Strategy alternatives of global marketing communication

Three options of global marketing communications are available to a company operating internationally: a standardized approach, a modified approach and an ‘open strategy’ approach. Whereas a standardized, global strategy relies on a marketing communication message that is standardized, and thus unified on a world-wide basis, the ‘open strategy’ approach allows a firm to customize or standardize marketing communication programmes when and where it is necessary to do so (Monye, 2000: 74). This approach recognizes sociocultural and economic differences between markets. A modified local strategy in contrast allows a full adaptation of communications to suit the particularities of individual countries; there is no unified international image. Since complete standardization of all aspects of a campaign over several different countries is rarely practicable (Walsh, 1993: 148 f.) – language difficulties alone often make such an approach impossible - the open strategy approach is employed most often in international marketing communication2.

T-Mobile’s marketing communications are also an instance of an open strategy approach. However, this strategy may take on a variety of forms. As far as advertising is concerned, that is about the only communications mix element that lends itself to a standardization, this usually implies a common (standardized) advertising strategy, a common creative idea and message (ad execution), and as far as possible, similar media (Walsh, 1993: 149). As far as the advertising message is concerned, the advertising theme may be maintained while an adaptation in terms of cultural norms may be made.

Although clear-cut distinctions cannot be made it may be maintained that T-Mobile’s open strategy involves a standardization in the area of advertising and sponsoring. Within these two mix categories there are whole campaigns that are standardized and other campaigns that are adapted. Thus not only the advertising theme or strategy is maintained, but the ad execution, too is standardized in all affiliate country markets.

2.3.2 Advantages vs. disadvantages of standardization

The drivers for standardization of international marketing communications come, first, from the organisation’s desire to improve efficiency (Doole/Lowe, 1999: 422). Apart from general economies of scale and synergy effects, cost reductions may be realised in terms of artwork, copywriting, block production, printing, creative staff and television film production costs (Walsh, 1993: 149). Moreover, cost reductions may be realised in the area of image cultivation.

Furthermore there is the ‘experience effect’ by means of replicating successful marketing communication programmes and processes in different countries (Doole/Lowe, 1999: 422). The underlying notion is that the selling concept that propels a brand in its first market will often be successful in other markets, too. Campaigns of IBM, Ford, Seiko e.g. originated in national markets and were then employed on a global basis.

Benefits of global advertising are also related to internal organizational considerations, where the rationale for standardization is based on factors such as skills transfer, improved decision making, and uniform quality standards etc. (Monye, 2000: 70 f.).

And finally, standardization of communications provides customers with perceived added value, particularly in the intangible elements of the product/service offer (Doole/Lowe, 1999: 422). Customers believe that they gain additional benefits and value from a consistent and widely recognised image. Consistency in the Corporate Identity and branding, too, reinforce brand awareness in stakeholders’ minds and provide the familiarity with the company, which in turn leads to a feeling of confidence, trust and loyalty. For example it may be reassuring for visitors to see the familiar logo and appearance of a brand in a foreign country that they visit.

The drawbacks of global marketing communications that are discussed in literature include cross-cultural differences, deficits in the area of media availability in order to reach the communicative target groups in different countries, legislation as well as product- and company-specific aspects (cf. e.g. Monye, 2000: 73 f.).

Moreover, the validity of the convergence thesis is to be examined critically.3 Cultural differences that must be managed when communicating with customers in different countries are a point against it that may result in general communication problems. In general a standardized approach cannot recognize the particularities of the different markets (cf. Ch. 2.5.1).

2.3.3 Opportunities vs. limitations of standardization

At an operational level a standardized marketing communication strategy may be implemented when a number of conditions apply (Doole/Lowe, 1999: 423):

- Visual messages form the main content of the advertisement
- Well-known international film stars, popular, celebrities and sports events are featured
- Music is an important part of the communication
- Well-known symbols and trademarks are featured

However, a standardized global advertising with an international ‘one-spot’ runs the danger of not hitting the target in every country and thus not being perceived by consumer resulting in a global competitive disadvantage. The result of such a campaign is often that it may be substituted by any other ad message. This refers to ads that are so generic that they to not address the target groups fully and are not perceived as being unique, a feature that advertising always strives for.

The question of whether a standardized global marketing communication strategy is useful, cannot be answered easily due to the many criteria outlined, that have to be taken into account. The decision depends on the particular situation of the company, the products, the target groups and the media reach. Thus Meffert and Bolz conclude that cross-country standardized communication programmes will remain exceptional (Meffert/Bolz, 1994: 209). This conclusion supports the suggestions in literature that the ‘open-strategy’4 approach will be the dominant mode of international marketing communication campaigns in the near future Such campaigns are based on a uniform company brand in order to build or enhance brand awareness, and are complemented by country-specific communication programmes.

T-Mobile, too has chosen to employ this strategy of differentiated internationalisation with both standardized campaigns that run globally and adapted campaigns that are modified to fit local requirements. The standardized approach is evident in T-Mobile’s communication of Corporate Identity and global advertising campaigns that are aimed at achieving brand awareness and enhancing familiarity and image. These campaigns are adapted to local market needs by means of various additional national or local communication programmes. Whereas advertising and sponsoring include both standardized and adapted campaigns, the other mix elements of sales promotion, Public Relations and direct communication are not standardized, but fully adapted to fit national requirements. Cultural differences that are relevant to advertising are assumed to be limited since the countries involved, European ones and the U.S., are supposed to have similar value systems. The brand migration TV ads in the different countries, however, were based on a standardized one-spot, that was aimed at giving a uniform brand image around the world.

The benefits of the internationalisation that are communicated, include synergies in the area of procurement of equipment and network technologies,5 as well as in the area of customer service, a benefit that is communicated by means of the ‘Get more’ value proposition. Thus T-Mobile’s success formula may be said to be: ‘Let’s go glocal’, that implies ‘as unified as possible, as local as necessary’. This means that the only viable approach for communication seems to be to standardize where possible in relation to clearly defined markets with similar buying behaviour and adapt where necessary.

2.4 Decisions in international marketing communication

When deciding on an international marketing communication strategy, the marketer has to bear in mind that target groups, communicative goals and the message design may differ country- or market-wise. Thus marketing communication planning involves evaluating a variety of considerations before setting out on the actual execution of any communication strategy.

2.4.1 Object of marketing communications

The first consideration that marketing communication involves is to decide on the object of communication. The object of marketing communication may be the company itself or individual products/product groups or services (Hermanns/Wissmayer, 1995: 176). The object is often related to the communicative goal (cf. Ch. 2.2.4). Hence a communication with the objective of image building or enhancing brand awareness often has the company itself as its object.

2.4.2 Branding

Of vital importance in international marketing communication is the choice of brand name. A brand name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them is intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers, and to differentiate them from those of competitors (Kotler, 1996: 556). Hence brand images create a feeling of memorability or even familiarity with a known product or company, and therefore serves to reassure costumers that this product is appropriate to buy again (Wells et al., 1998: 259 ff.). The brand name, for example, communicates the reputation, image and quality of the product and the manufacturer, and Corporate Identity (Monye, 2000: 89). Moreover a brand is a “promise of value” because it creates an expectation level (Wells et. al, 1998: 262). Hence, as Wells et al. (1998: 262) suggest, branding creates a platform on which a relationship is built between the brand and its user.

The brand name may either be standardized and thus used in all countries or a different brand name is utilized in individual countries. In any case, it is essential that the brand has a distinct position in the eyes of the customer (Monye, 2000: 95). Brand strategies include standardization of brand name and/or graphic brand design. The strategy employed is determined by different factors. The establishment of a global brand usually requires a standardization of brand name, graphic design and creative strategy (Wells et. al, 1998: 669). In this case the marketer has to pay particular attention to the pronunciation of the brand name, its succinctness, adequacy of connotations and associations that are triggered, as well as opportunities for legal protection of the trade mark (Hermanns/Wissmayer, 1995: 177). Many firms have to change their brand names because of different meanings they have when they move to new markets. If these preconditions are not fulfilled, another strategy has to be employed. Since the trade-mark ‘T-Mobile’ fulfils all these criteria it may be considered a global brand.

2.4.3 Target group

Another aspect that has to be considered during the planning process is the choice of target group. The target group is the receiver or addressee of the message that is transmitted. Effective communication and thus the attainment of a certain communicative goal or impact require that the target group is reached. Hence marketers believe that advertising is most effective when it is relevant to the target audience (Doole/Lowe, 1999: 425). Due to the continuous convergence of market environments and the utilization of supranational advertising and distribution media (e.g. Internet) the identification of cross-country target groups is gaining importance.

2.4.4 Objectives of marketing communications

Decisions in international marketing communications are based on the three basic objectives of marketing communication (Meffert/Bolz, 1994: 181):

- achieving brand- and company awareness,
- influencing attitude and image in a positive way
- influencing purchase intentions and behaviour of consumers

These more general promotional objectives can be broken down into two categories, differentiating between sales-related and brand/product communications related objectives. A brand migration, such as in the case of T-Mobile is primarily based on brand/product communications related objectives, such as (Doole/Lowe, 1999: 429):

- increasing the value of the corporate brand and product image
- helping to establish the position or to reposition the product or brand
- increasing awareness levels especially in new country markets
- changing customer perceptions of products, brands or the firm

Since the impact of marketing communications is on mental processes, the objectives of marketing communications are – so-called – psychographic6 ones. Meffert and Bolz suggest that psychographic communication objectives have to be differentiated or adapted to fit country-specific requirements (1994: 181).

2.4.5 International marketing communications implementation strategy

Having determined the objectives, the following dimensions of the international marketing communications implementation strategy have to be decided upon:

- The message to be communicated
- The target audience to which the message will be directed
- The media that will be used to carry the message

This part of the strategic concept represents the preconsiderations before the verbalisation and visualization of the communicative message (advertising execution). Advertising strategy consists of the following three components (Meffert, 1994: 182 f.):

- the communicative promise, which includes the development of a specific U.S.P. (‘Unique Selling Proposition’),
- the reason why the promise is valid (‘Reason Why’), that ideally gives evidence of why the target group may attain the promised benefits with the product preference
- and the advertising execution (‚How’), that lays down the communicative framework and specific requirements regarding the style and character of the message, being a kind of media-specific U.A.P. (‘Unique Advertising Proposition’).

2.5 Factors influencing international marketing communications

2.5.1 Selected sociocultural factors

As Monye (2000: 73) points out, one of the biggest obstacles to global marketing communications, and thus main factor influencing its design, is the culture of people. “The culture of a people derives from the totality of the components that constitute the basis of interaction in a society [...] which provide them with distinctive characteristics, attitudes and behaviour” (Monye, 2000: 73). Hence in the following section we will discuss two of the key constituents of culture, namely language and values and norms, that are relevant for the present study, as well as some other factors influencing international marketing communications. Language

Language is an important element of communication. Through the use of language a message may be transmitted to the receiver in a clear and succinct way. Effective copywriting uses an informal, conversational language that is subtle, personal and concise. The more colloquial the language, the betters a slogan may be understood.

However, language may also pose difficulties in marketing communications, when they take place in an international and multilingual context, since communication styles as well as world-views are deeply influenced by the structure of languages (Usunier, 2000: 413). The translation of a message into another language requires specific knowledge and a special feeling for the pragmatic function of the message. A possible solution may be to utilize a foreign language as a design element, such as in the T-Mobile slogan “Get more”. However, the prerequisites for this strategy are that the slogan is short and concise, easily understood and that the language used is related to the product or service advertised. Examples of English slogans in German speaking countries are Coca Cola’s ‘you can’t beat the feeling’, Nike’s ‘just do it’, or Toshiba’s ‘In touch with tomorrow’. Values and norms

Values and norms too are of crucial importance for marketing communications design.7 Every culture has its own value system; this means that verbal as well as visual signs may trigger different associations or feelings. These cultural differences among people and nations in turn result in fundamental differences in the ways that consumers from different cultures respond to different communication approaches (Doole/Lowe, 1999: 424). Although for instance an emotional approach appeals to all cultures, since emotions are basic to all humanity, the degree to which these emotions are expressed may vary, and thus bypassing may occur.

While it may be said that during the last decades an increasing convergence, particularly of North American and European values and norms, has taken place, there are still cultural differences that need to be taken into account when designing marketing communications targeted at a ‘global’ audience, that comprises European and North American cultures, as is the case with T-Mobile.

While North Americans’ key value is individualism, and thus they prefer ‘hard sell’ strategies that persuade them in a direct way to buy a product, the English for instance prefer a more subtle approach that is only indirectly persuasive. Hence marketing communications in the U.K. rely more on the informative strategy than on the persuasive strategy. In Germany – which is represented through the corporate site in the present study - on the other hand consumers in general can be said to be very apt; therefore they prefer marketing communications strategies that are informative rather than persuasive so that they can form their own opinion about a product or service advertised.

Moreover, while informal first-name basis relationships are common in the U.S., they are frowned upon in Germany, where co-workers often do not use first names. The implications for marketing communications will be discussed in the subsequent study.

2.5.2 Other factors influencing global marketing communication

Other environmental factors need to be taken into account when deciding on a communications strategy. Marketers face political and legal constraints that restrict promotional activity. Regulations for cross-country advertising may be based on both international and national laws and thus may vary from country to country. In most European countries deceptive, morally offensive, defamatory and comparative ad practices are prohibited as well as advertising of specific products (Hermanns/Wissmayer, 1995: 184).

Other factors influencing global marketing communications include media environment and media usage. As far media selection is concerned reach (of target audience) and consumer usage of individual advertising media may vary and generally there is a lack of truly global media (Wells et. al., 1998: 671).

Despite the continuing convergence of market environments and buying behaviours, recent studies of the effects of particularly culture on cross-cultural marketing communications, and in specific advertising, confirm that adaptation is necessary to accommodate differences between different countries (Albers-Miller, 1996; cf. Monye, 2000: 25).

2.6 Selected tools of international marketing communication

There are a number of marketing communications tools for the external market and it is to these that we now turn. The promotional or communication mix traditionally contains the four sub-mix elements advertising, sales promotion, Public Pelations and personal selling or in a wider sense direct communication. Other instruments, that during the last decade have become important communication mix elements, include sponsoring and product placement. Since the mix elements of personal selling and sales promotion do not lend themselves to a standardized global approach for various reasons I will focus on traditional advertising, Public Relations and sponsoring, that are relevant for the purpose of the present study.

2.6.1 Advertising

Wells et al. (1998: 13) define advertising as “paid nonpersonal communication from an identified sponsor using mass media to persuade or influence an audience”. Whereas in Public Relations the emphasis is on informing, educating and creating understanding through knowledge, the focus of advertising is selling. Advertising both informs and transforms the product by creating an image that goes beyond straightforward facts (Wells et. al., 1998: 14). Thus advertising always involves influencing attitudes and behaviour of target groups, and attempts to attain these defined objectives by means of specific communication media. Advertising strategy and execution

There are two dimensions to the creative side of an advertisement: the strategic concept and its execution. Advertising strategy determines what the message says and the execution details how it is said. Advertising strategy relies on a statement about the object to be advertised, and involves deciding on the message approach, that is either a hard sell8 or soft sell9 one. In the online product advertising of the subsequent analysis the hard sell approach is predominantly used, that is direct and emphasizes the tangible features and benefits of the object to be advertised.

As far as advertising execution is concerned, there are three dimensions that need to be taken into consideration: the advertising format, the tone, and the way text and imagery are handled in the execution. Common advertising formats include straightforward and factual messages, demonstrations, comparisons, humour, problem solutions, spokespersons (Wells et. al., 1998: 404), or sex, fear and emotions (Meffert/Bolz, 1994: 183). In the context of advertising formats a discussion of ‘cultural universals’ as a form of communication is relevant. These are emotions, such as love, happiness, security, nature, relaxation; values that contribute towards consumers’ quality of life and are universal ones, not specific to any culture (Meffert/Bolz, 1994: 185).

Another important phenomenon that needs to be taken into consideration is that of ‘silent language’ that refers to non-verbal communication signals, such as family, friends, free time etc. and how these things are experienced (Meffert/Bolz, 1994: 185). The identification of behavioural patterns derived from the cultural heritage of a country is particularly important for the marketer, since otherwise the message is not understood (Meffert/Bolz, 1994: 185). In case it is not possible to design an advertisement in such an imaginative manner that it is perceived in a unified way world-wide or in certain cultures, specific behavioural patterns need to be taken into account. The T-Mobile adverts featuring the tennis stars Steffi Graf and André Agassi succeed in incorporating both cultural universals (security and happiness in a marriage) and silent language (family) in a way that is understood across national and culture-borders.

The tone of ad messages is often described in terms of attitude or humour. The copy strategy behind the use of humour is the hope that people will transfer their warm feelings they have as they are being entertained to the product (Wells et al., 1998: 406). However, humour is hard to handle, especially in an international environment, since it is subject to significant cultural variations.

As far as verbal messages in advertisements are concerned, these need to be understood. When we distinguish between text- and receiver-specific (pragmatic) aspects of a verbal message it becomes clear that language is one of the most problematic formal design elements. The translation of advertising contents, for instance, for international use is difficult; often the intended message is not retained, but distorted. The verbal design is also problematic because certain lexical items or cognates do not have the same connotations in different languages (Kroeber-Riel, 1992: 266).

Against the background of the difficult interlingual transfer of ad texts and the increasing information overload that comes along with a selective and superficial reception of information, the focus in international marketing communication should be on the use of visual elements (Meffert/Bolz, 1994: 187). Visual information is often superior to verbal information and can attain a better ad impact. Nevertheless the international marketer must bear in mind that certain pictures and symbols have a different meaning internationally.

These insights, too are successfully incorporated in the T-Mobile television spots. Spots lend themselves to standardization as they rely primarily on visual strategies and not so much on verbal strategies. The T-Mobile brand migration ad and standardized ads that feature Steffi Graf and Andrè Agassi are examples of well-done ads that incorporate all the considerations that are necessary for an advertising standardization on the execution level. The standardized spots feature a married star couple, Steffi Graf and André Agassi. Apart from giving testimonials for T-Mobile’s services they, being an international ‘mixed’ couple from Germany and the U.S. respectively, serve to symbolize internationality and its benefits.10 The ad shows them communicating via mobile phones and thereby demonstrating that the mobile phone is the central communications means for them, since being busy they are often separated from each other geographically. Thus they represent all the qualities – internationality, communicating without physical boundaries, rendering a busy life easy - that the T-Mobile brand means to represent in the marketplace. Bypassing is avoided since the ad execution relies on the use of cultural universals, such as showing family situations and the gestures of the actors. The focus on visual strategies in T-Mobile’s television spots illustrates that international marketing communication strategies rely heavily on non-verbal elements to communicate their messages effectively, since verbal elements may not be standardized as easily as visual ones.

Music is another widely used design element of radio and TV ads11, particularly employed in global ad campaigns, that needs to be adapted to the content of the ad message, underscoring the message or communicative objective (Meffert/Bolz, 1994: 188 f.). In T-Mobile radio and TV ads the jingle, being part of the brand itself, is the audio counterpart of the logo, with the five ‘digits’12 after the company name. The aim of this ad design is to enhance brand recognition; thus this is another evidence of the fact that T-Mobiles’s primary ad objective seems to be enhancing brand awareness and building image. Product vs. corporate advertising

While, as mentioned above, the object of product advertising is a particular product or service, the object of corporate advertising is the company itself. Thus corporate advertising is intended to build the reputation of the corporation, whereas product advertising is intended to sell a product. As Myers points out, much of the imagery of globalisation appears in corporate advertising rather than in consumer ads (1999: 64).

As outlined above, there are standardized T-Mobile television spots, whose identical strategy and execution is transferred to the individual partner countries with modification only in language, and adapted spots, that run only nationally. However, the innovation here is that while some of these standardized spots are related to corporate advertising, some of them are instances of advertising global products, such as the WorldClass tariff. In any case, all standardized spots indirectly support a wide range of products by presenting the company T-Mobile itself as a brand.

2.6.2 Public Relations

The communications element of Public Relations involves sustained efforts to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organization and the public in general (Meffert, 1998: 665). Public Relations may be considered the basis for effective advertising, in the sense that it can contribute to a favourable marketing situation, in which advertising can work successfully. It works on the elementary psychological principle that we prefer the things we like and know best or understand and trust. Public relations is a particularly important mix element in international marketing communication, since international companies’ size and thus opportunities to influence governments may lead to negative attitudes on the part of consumers and the public in general (Meffert/Bolz, 1994: 201). This inherent conflict with companies operating internationally becomes particularly obvious in countries with nationalistic political efforts.

2.6.3 Sponsoring

Sponsoring involves a firm (the sponsor) providing mainly financial support for an event, activity, firm, person, institution, product or service in order to attain the related company objectives (Meffert/Bolz, 1994: 202). In return the sponsor would expect to gain some advantage, such as the exposure of its brand, logo or advertising message (Doole/Lowe, 1999: 448). We differentiate sport sponsoring, art sponsoring and social sponsoring (Hermanns/Wissmayer, 1995: 217) that provide opportunities for (Doole/Lowe, 1999: 448):

- Brand exposure and publicity
- Opportunities to entertain customers and employees
- Associations between brands and events
- Improving community relations
- Creating the opportunity to promote their brands at the event

Sponsoring is widely employed in international marketing communications, particularly in the area of sports disciplines that take place on an international level. For international sponsoring it is of vital importance that the sponsored event is very well known and receives strong media coverage in a variety of countries. T-Mobile’s international sponsoring activities include sport sponsoring of soccer and cycling games, since these are some of the most popular team sports in the world.

Benefits of international sponsoring include media coverage without fees, comparably high reaches especially with events that gain high international attention and finally legal restrictions concerning advertising may be evaded. However, image and popularity of sponsored persons or events may vary according to country, and are subject to change possibly resulting in negative synergy effects.

To sum up this section up, the communication mix has three general objectives: to gain brand awareness and create a positive image for the company, to influence consumer attitudes and purchase intentions in a positive way with the aim of finally persuading them to buy certain products or services. In general, a company attempts to achieve all three objectives, although the emphasis on a particular one may differ branch-wise. Evidence has been provided that T-Mobile’s communication emphasis on the standardized level is on image-building and creating brand awareness. Thus the object of the global standardized communications is the company T-Mobile itself, whereas the objects of the adapted communicative measures are T-Mobile’s products and services, that are not standardized in the individual countries. The products standardized worldwide, too are advertised through global ad campaigns.

Having outlined the fundamentals of international marketing communication and applied them to the marketing communication situation of T-Mobile, an outline of the traditional communication theory will be provided, and subsequently this will be related to the marketing communication situation in order develop a marketing communication theory from a linguistic point of view.

3. Traditional theory of communication

The basic goal of communication is the transmission of information and meaning from one individual or group to another (Fiske, 1993: 2). Only when the receiver understands an idea as intended by the sender are we dealing with successful communication. However, meaning cannot be transmitted in the abstract, it must be embodied in some code (Vestergaard, 1993: 15). A basic requirement for communication is that the sender and receiver are in some way connected with each other; in other words, the message has to be communicated through a channel. Moreover, communication takes place in a certain context; this is the situation in which the sender and receiver are placed, including the preceding events, the wider cultural context of both the sender and receiver and the overall knowledge they share about their total situation and culture (Sperber, 1986: 15). The following graphic visualizes the communication situation.

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Figure 1: The communication situation (Vestergaard, 1993: 16)

The communication process that will be discussed in the next section is based on the communication situation as outlined above.

3.1 The communication process

The communication process involves five stages: idea formation, message encoding, message transmission, message decoding and feedback, as the following graph illustrates.

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Figure 2: The communication process (Chee/Harris, 1993: 167, slightly modified)

It is important to mention in this context that the term `sender´ can be replaced by ´writer´, ´producer´ or ´addresser´; the term ´receiver´ alternatively can be referred to as ´reader´, ´consumer´ or ´addressee´. The process of communication begins when the sender, the person with whom the message originates, has an idea, in our case the marketer. This idea will be influenced by the mood, frame of reference, background, culture, physical make-up and the context of the situation. Successful communication involves the ability to predict how a message will influence its receiver and the skill of adapting that message to its receiver. This is where the core problem of international marketing communication arises. A single message targeted at a global audience in theory requires that all the criteria and conditions outlined above are the same for any audience, which in practice cannot be the case.

The second step in the communication process is the encoding of the idea in a message, which involves the sender transferring the idea to verbal, visual or gestural communicative items that will convey meaning. Thereby the sender has to take into account the receiver’s communication skills, attitude, background, experiences and culture.

Next, the receiver has to decode the message, which involves a “translation” of the symbol form into meaning. Since one can imagine that an international audience differs significantly in terms of life experience, even within each national group, this problem of decoding takes on an important dimension in international marketing communication.

The last step in the communication process is the feedback that is created by the verbal and non-verbal responses of the receiver (Fiske, 1990: 21). Thus the sender learns that the message was received and understood. Senders can encourage feedback by asking questions and receivers can improve the process paraphrasing the sender’s message.

This question of feedback takes on another important dimension in international online marketing communication. The Internet allows a direct two-way communication with the customer, thereby enabling feedback on anything that is communicated by the sender, in this case the telecom provider. This is achieved through various channels, mostly electronic ones that are particularly convenient when communicating with an international audience.

3.2 Barriers to communication

However, communication is not always successful. There are certain barriers that disrupt the communication process. Bypassing, differing frames of reference, lack of language or listening skills, emotional inference, and physical distractions constitute barriers to communication.

Bypassing is an expression taken from the field of semantics, the study of word meanings and the way they are used. A word may take on different meanings in different communicative contexts or have different connotations for different people. For example the word ‘responsibility’ can have positive and negative connotations. To some people it implies a burden, and to others it means power and prestige. Hence, it is essential that the receiver and sender attach the same symbolic meanings to their words in order to avoid miscommunication. This requires knowledge, cultural empathy and willingness to adapt the design of the message on the part of the sender (Doole/Lowe, 1999: 420).

Moreover, miscommunication occurs when the sender’s frame of reference differs from the receiver’s. The frame of reference is formed by a combination of a person’s experiences, education, culture, expectations, attitudes, personality and other elements. Thus everybody has a unique frame of reference and experiences events differently.

A lack of language and listening skills can also result in miscommunication. Good language skills must include an adequate vocabulary, knowledge of basic punctuation and grammar, and a skill in written and oral expression.

Another communication barrier is the influence of emotions that may confuse a person’s frame of mind and prevent the production of intelligent messages. Successful communication however, requires senders and receivers to focus on the content of the message and remain objective. Noisy surroundings, for instance, may disrupt oral communication, and poor writing or typographical errors may disrupt written messages.

In order to overcome these barriers, effective communicators have to recognize that the communication process is imperfect, adapt messages to receivers, question preconceptions, and plan for feedback.

3.3 Forms of communication

Broad categories of communication include oral and written communication. Oral communication is characterized by immediate feedback, shorter sentences, more conversational sentences, focus on interpersonal relations, highly contextual nature, prompter action, less detailed technical information, more personal pronouns, more slang and contradictions, more imperative, interrogative and exclamatory sentences (Murphy/Hildebrandt, 1991: 16). The characteristics of written communication include delayed feedback, less spontaneity, less colloquial quality, focus on content, greater linguistic emphasis, later action, more detailed technical information, more involved sentence structure, and the possibility for detailed documentation and review (Murphy/Hildebrandt, 1991: 16).

However, these descriptions are only general features that may vary. Especially written communication through electronic channels, e.g. Email, Internet, or with a certain pragmatic function (e.g. advertising) often has characteristics, which are typically found in oral communication, as we will see later.

4. International marketing communication – a linguistic approach

Marketing communication is form of communication that transmits different types of market information to match buyers and sellers in the marketplace (Wells et. al., 1998: 14). We can establish the relation to linguistics by maintaining that marketing communication is a form of discourse, and the relation to communication by arguing - in Usunier’s terms – that marketing is an “exchange of meanings” (Usunier, 2000: 120).

According to Cook (1992: 1), the main focus of discourse analysis is on language, but it is also concerned with the context of communication: who is communicating with whom and why, in what kind of situation, through what medium etc. Since discourse analysis views language and context holistically an analysis of marketing communication discourse from a linguistic point of view has to incorporate all elements that form the context to the particular discourse.

4.1 The communication model applied to marketing communication

The abstract and general communication model outlined above can be applied to the marketing communication situation, as the following graphic illustrates.

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Figure 3: The marketing communication situation (following Vestergaard, 1993: 16)

The sender is the marketer or company and the receiver the target audience respectively. By means of transmission of a message the target audience is to be influenced in a positive way as regards their attitude and purchase behaviour. The object of the message is a particular company or its products and service. Hence the prerequisite for marketing communication is the existence of a sender, a message, a message object and a receiver. The pragmatic function, and thus the meaning transmitted, involves persuasion, information or image-building, functions which may be attributed to the individual elements of the communication mix, such as promotion, personal selling or public relations. The meaning transmitted in advertising for instance is thus an attempt to convince the consumer that a product or service is superior and consequently make the consumer buy this product or service, thus advertising may have a persuasive and/or information function, depending on what products or services are advertised. The code refers to the verbal and visual signs that are employed in order to convey a certain message. The channel refers to the marketing medium through which the persuasive, informative or image-building message is physically transmitted to the receiver, who processes the message and reacts. Needless to say, the communicative potential of different communication channels varies significantly, depending on the communicative means (verbal and non-verbal types of messages). Nonverbal messages, for instance, depending on the channel may be conveyed through pictures, layout, videos etc. The context, finally, refers to the situation in which the sender and receiver are placed including the preceding events, the wider cultural context and the overall knowledge they share about their total situation and culture. Thus marketing communication has the task to implement communicative options so that the intended message receives its target audience in the most effective way.

4.2 Challenges for international marketing communications

We have established that all the forms of international marketing communications have a fundamental purpose, which is to ensure that the intended messages (those which are part of the firm’s international strategy) are conveyed accurately between the sender and the receiver. The communication process should be two-way and the sender should always make provision for feedback to ensure that the receiver has understood the message as it was intended and has responded positively to it. In practice this apparently simple process poses considerable challenges for firms trying to manage their international marketing communications. Doole and Lowe (1999: 420) point to a number reasons for international marketing communications failure:

- Inconsistency in the messages conveyed to customers from different countries and cultures
- Different styles of presentation of Corporate Identity, brand and product image which can leave customers confused
- A lack of coordination of messages across the various country markets
- Failure to appreciate the differences in the fields of perception (the way the message is understood) of the sender and the receiver.

Hence, as Monye points out, unless a strategic approach is adopted in developing a market-sensitive campaign, there will be a gap between the message as intended and the message as received (2000: 69). To this end, the effectiveness of global marketing communications must be based on the extent to which marketers are able to “exploit cross-cultural and economic similarities without ignoring the differences” (Monye, 2000: 69).

4.3 Marketing communication planning

On the basis of the communication model, the marketer has to develop the marketing communication strategies. The whole communication process will be influenced by the communicative context. As far as context is concerned, if the marketer and the target group are not from the same culture or speak the same language miscommunication may occur.

Keeping in mind the context, the marketer first has to identify the target audience or the receiver of the message, which may be customers, but also the public, suppliers etc. Considering the target audience the marketer has to decide on the meaning of the message or the main communication goals.

4.3.1 Types of marketing communication strategies

The decisions on the main communicative goals or the meaning of the message involve deciding on the pragmatic function, thus whether the message ought to be persuasive, informative or image-building. Whereas persuasive strategies are generally preferred in advertising, sales promotion and personal selling, image building strategies are mostly used in Public Relations. Informative strategies may be used for different purposes. A brand migration, such as in the case of T-Mobile usually utilizes an image-building strategy. The persuasive strategy

The goal that is pursued with a persuasive strategy is to create a desire for the product and stimulate purchase, so it tends to build brand preference, encourage brand switching, and persuade customers to purchase now (Chee/Harris, 1993: 172). This strategy appeals to the customer’s reason, emotions and will. In advertising for instance, the persuasive strategy is supposed to help move people from a state of unawareness to purchase. Thus the persuasive strategy is predominantly used for product advertising purposes.

A persuasive strategy usually takes an indirect approach to capture the target group’s attention and arouse interest before revealing the communicative goal. The basic structure of persuasive messages follows the AIDA model, which outlines different steps in the persuasion process. The steps are attention, interest, desire and action. (Chee/Harris, 1993: 167). In order to attract attention, the message should contain a reader interest, or a reader-benefit theme, that makes the target group read on. The next step is to arouse interest by telling about the product or service and what benefits, such as convenience or savings etc. may be obtained. The third step in the persuasion process is desire and conviction, which can be achieved through presenting proof that the readers will benefit from the proposal. Therefore persuasive messages often contain facts, pictures, figures, testimonials, tests, samples or guarantees. The last step in the process is to persuade readers to take a particular course of action. It must be clearly stated what the reader has to do in order to profit from the benefits that have been put forward in the message. The final words should stress the reader benefit again, which reminds the reader why he should take action.

According to Chee and Harris (1993: 167) the DAGMAR model is more up to date; it stands for “Defining Advertising Goals for Measured Advertising Results”. Here the sequence that the consumer runs through is unawareness, awareness of the product or service, comprehension as regards what the product or service can do, conviction that this product or service is superior to others and finally action, that is usually purchase. This model is also known as the Hierarchy-of-Effects model (Vardar, 1992: 9). However, the key characteristics of both models are the same: they both have a ‘learning’ phase, a ‘feeling’ phase and finally a ‘doing’ phase (Corstjens, 1990:66). The image-building strategy

The image-building strategy is usually associated with prestige or corporate advertising and often serves the Public Relations function of the marketing mix. Image-building strategies are employed to create or maintain a positive company image and reputation. The informative strategy

The informative strategy is concerned with conveying information and raising customer awareness of the product or the organisation (Chee/Harris, 1993: 172). It is less compelling than the persuasive one, but still attractive, interesting and convincing. The object of this strategy is to invite the reader to obtain fuller information. Sometimes informative message, e.g. on web-sites are removed from the product or service itself and merely give information which is sought to create a positive attitude towards the company, product or service. Informative strategies are usually employed to supplement either persuasive or image-building strategies.

Having decided on the purpose of the marketing message, the marketer has to implement the communication strategy in one way or another. By means of a certain code, including verbal and visual signs, the meaning of the message has to be conveyed. The analysis in the second part of this dissertation will mainly focus on these verbal and visual strategies that are employed to convey the meaning of the message.

4.3.2 Choice of medium

Depending on the meaning of the message the marketer has to choose the appropriate channel or medium. In the present study we will mainly focus on the Internet as a communication channel. Since, however, the case study deals with an organization that has gone through a brand migration, in the previous discussion we have also elaborated on television as a traditional medium, that lends itself to a brand migration due to its functionalities and overall reach. Since the aim of this study is to analyse the way international marketing communication strategies are implemented linguistically I will focus on the Internet as a new medium that employs both verbal and visual strategies and thus lends itself to international marketing communications.

5. Online marketing communication

Online marketing refers to the marketing via interactive media, such as the Internet. The Internet is a new communication channel, which has introduced a highly interactive communication process and has changed the overall marketing procedures. Before elaborating on the advantages of interactivity it is necessary to explain what the Internet actually is.

An internetwork or an internet is a network of computers. The Internet is the sum of all the interconnected TCP/IP networks (Hofacker, 1996: 190). The acronym TCP/IP stands for ‘Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol”. According to Hofacker the Internet is an open standard, in that it is not owned or controlled by any particular institution. “The Internet is open insofar as anyone can pay to connect a device to it as long as technical TCP/IP specifications are met (1996: 190). Although the Internet spans all seven continents it is neither centrally managed or controlled nor coordinated. Basic services include electronic mail and the World Wide Web. Since marketing activity (as most other Internet activities) are focused on the World Wide Web, we will only concentrate on this service.

5.1 The World Wide Web

The World Wide Web (WWW) is “a client server/application application allowing information provider to provide information using server software to information seekers using client software” (Hofacker, 1996: 192). Furthermore “popular clients can handle text, audio, graphical images, or video”. Thus the WWW provides the ability to combine all kinds of electronic media into one interactive presentation that can be delivered anywhere around the world instantaneously.

Most Internet users access the WWW through the home page of a particular institution, company or Internet service provider. The home page provides access to the services and information available from that institution; it too is an expression of the company’s identity (Yates, 1995: 122). According to Marrelli (1996: 242) the home page may be compared to the cover of a magazine. It is the most important element of a web-site because it is the first thing that users see when they enter a site. The appearance of the home page to a large extent determines whether the user wants to stay or change to another site. A successful homepage in terms of fulfilling its objectives should therefore give an idea about what the site is about and where to go within the site to receive the desired information (Marrelli, 1996: 242). From this page users ought to be able to go to every other page that exists on this site by mouseclicking on the particular links, which stand for the individual topic areas, that he or she is interested in. According to Yates (1995: 122), web pages are “a complex interplay of self and group presentations information access structures, personal and group communications and specific stopping-off points along one individual’s interaction with the Web at large”.

Furthermore, all documents on the WWW can be referred to by their Uniform Resource Locator (URL) (e.g. In addition, the web pages are based on a hypertext format and written in a standardized computer language called HTML. The abbreviation ‘html’ stands for ‘hypertext markup language’, which is used for creating web pages or documents; it sets out which sections of the text are headings, which are graphics or links to other pages etc. (Yates, 1996: 122).

5.1.1 The hypertext

WWW documents are hypermedia documents. This means that the user can simultaneously access all kinds of media (multimedia) by means of interacting with a structured array of links. The hypertext is a new textual form, in which ‘active’ connections between different parts of a text and with other texts are provided (Yates, 1996: 121). These "hyperlinks" can be words or phrases and graphic representations as well. When the user ‘clicks’ on a hyperlink, the system takes him to a new location that could be part of the document he is currently viewing or another document elsewhere. Instead of reading a text in a linear way, readers can create “a different pathway through the textual resources, which reflects their own interests and decisions” (Yates, 1996: 121). Most hypertexts take the form of interactive books, because individual texts are connected to each other through a database of links. This so-called ‘intertextuality’ makes documents multidimensional and dynamic.

5.1.2 Language use on the World Wide Web

Online discourse as a form of written text often exploits features of spoken utterances. Moreover, due to its non-linear hypertext format online discourse often does not display the fixivity of language, as it is the case in a permanent medium such as written texts. The fixivity of language becomes apparent in the clause structure, which is embedded and lexically dense in written texts. Spoken language on the other hand, has a more open-ended, less information-dense structure, which represents an active, dynamic kind of language usage (Yates, 1995: 124). Print and writing have helped to unify language use, and thus have contributed to this fixivity of language. This kind of language use has contributed to the “ability that to ensure that the content does not change over time” (Yates, 1996: 124).

Electronic communication and here – communication on the Internet - threatens the fixivity of print. Firstly, electronic texts take a transient and changing form due to their non-linearity; secondly many of their clause structures are reminiscent of speech. Thirdly, users can set their own software to interpret online discourse in certain ways (Yates, 1996: 124). Thus the users of hypertext and the Web must define the presentation elements; they must accept new language practices and design language in new ways against the background of new communication contexts and technologies.

5.2 Key Principles of online marketing

Some of the traditional marketing concepts, such as the marketing mix or the traditional distinction between mass media marketers and direct marketers are being challenged through online Marketing. The key underlying principles of online marketing are: maintaining customer focus, interactivity, interconnection, interface, involvement, information, individualism and integrity, also referred to as the “seven I’s” (Spalter, 1996) that allow the transition from the marketplace to the ‘marketspace’.

5.2.1 Interactivity

Interactive media such as the Internet have several advantages compared to traditional mass media. According to Anderson (1996: 153) interactivity has five dimensions: information flow, message availability, immediacy of feedback, type of perception and customisation of content. Information flow refers to the transfer of information from one point to another. Interactive messages are characterized by multiple information flows between the sender and receiver. As far as message availability is concerned, interactive messages are available on-demand, when consumers want to access them. Concerning immediacy of feedback, interactive messages support real-time feedback, using the same medium through which the message was sent. As regards type pf perception, interactive message are to be perceived as intelligent and responsive interaction. The last dimension, customisation of content refers to who arranges the content; the contents of interactive messages may be customized by receivers.

Thus interactive media allow a more symmetrical relationship between senders and receivers, in a marketing context between marketers and customers. Hence interactive media help companies to maintain a customer focus since they encourage a dialogue between the marketer and the customer. As a result, customers may express their attitudes and wishes in real-time, which is not possible via mass media. Moreover they can control and chose the content they view chat or communicate in real time with one or more individuals or e-mail different individuals (Spalter, 1996: 171). Furthermore the information highway offers many “souped-up multimedia13 elements” (Spalter, 1996: 171) that make the virtual WWW experience exciting and keeps users ‘in flow’. To sum up, interactive media are the “media of doing” because thy get customers to interact with a ‘marketspace’ (Spalter, 1996: 173).

5.2.2 Interconnection

The evolution of large and complex interconnected networks, the ‘information highways’ and the creation of marketspaces are changing traditional marketing practices. The interconnected information highways form a new distribution channel. Information on the net is anything that can be digitised and transmitted such as images, text, audio or graphics. Since the amount of people using commercial online services is growing, businesses are increasingly beginning to make the transition from the traditional marketplace to the electronic marketspace. Only one of the benefits that the Internet provides for businesses is that it offers maximum accessibility to a large number of potential customers, since geographic barriers are virtually non-existent in the marketspace (Myers, 1999: 134). Once a company has created its own marketspace that is easily accessible the company has to develop strategies that get users to ‘click’ onto its site.

5.2.3 Interface

An interface refers to the digital assets that can be electronically displayed. The development of a user-friendly interface is highly important to get users to click onto a site. Building brand awareness by creating a visual icon that represents a known brand is of strategic importance (Spalter, 1996: 168). An intelligent interface has to incorporate the stages of the buying process (Spalter, 1996: 168): problem recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision and post purchase behaviour (Kotler, 1996: 291). Moreover an interface has to communicate a business’s products and services to its target customers. As far as design is concerned, careful attention must be paid to language and cultural differences.

5.2.4 Involvement

Customers who interact with a ‘marketspace’ are not necessarily involved. However, involvement is a key determinant of customer loyalty and profitability. Thus in order to attain involvement on the part of users an inviting interface has to be created. Other ways to make users involved include linking the business site to a frequently visited site that serves as a gateway. Involvement may be maintained by frequently updating content, moderating interesting chats or providing communities or creating direct feedback opportunities for customers to voice their opinion i.e. through bulletin boards or Email.

5.2.5 Information

Spalter suggests that interactive marketing brings about “database consuming”, that is the equivalent to ‘database marketing’ on the part of businesses, that use database technologies to target and ‘customize’ their products to fit individual customers’ needs. Database consuming in turn allows control, choice and empowerment on the part of consumers by enabling them to retrieve information from databases that is relevant to them (Spalter, 1996: 180).14

5.2.6 Individualism

Due to this “market usership” in marketspace instead of traditional market research marketers are able to determine customers’ needs on an individual basis. Technology enables them to determine what customers are using their marketspaces for and what features they are using (Spalter, 1996: 182). Consequently marketers may ‘mass-customize’ products and services to fit individual needs and maintain customer focus.

5.2.7 Integrity

Integrity refers to customers’ privacy, security and confidentiality (Spalter, 1996: 184). If these basic needs cannot be safeguarded all attempts to create a successful marketspace are in vain.

5.3 Significance of the Internet as an important marketing communication channel in international marketing

5.3.1 Traditional marketing vs. online marketing

As the above elaborations on the key principles of online marketing have shown, marketers must understand what benefits the new medium brings about but also that it challenges traditional marketing practices; these then need to be redefined. Thus networks and the ability to communicate over them anywhere on the globe at any time remove the constraints of space and time associated with physical marketplaces (Spalter, 1996: 164). On the other hand online marketing is blurring the line between traditional push and pull marketing that are associated with advertising and personal selling respectively. A pull strategy means communicating with the final consumer in a non-personal way to attract them to the retailer or distributor to purchase the product. A push strategy means promoting the product or service to retailers in order to force the product down the distribution channel by using promotional methods, such as personal selling, discounts and special deals (Doole/Lowe, 1999: 427).

Interactive media allow marketers to utilize pull and push strategies simultaneously thereby creating “the potential for a mass interactive dialogue” (Spalter, 1996: 164). For instance, customers who view an advertisement on the Internet can immediately order the product or service online. The advertisement itself is based on a pull strategy whereas the notion of immediate order that is realised through some kind of technology (e.g. Email) represents a push strategy.

5.3.2 Types of marketing communications on the Internet

It is important to mention here that there are various forms of marketing communications on the Internet that range from mere sponsoring of frequently visited sites to online sales, also referred to as e-commerce. For the purpose of this thesis we will only look at one particular approach, that of ‘infomercials’ (Monye, 2000: 257 f.) or ‘interactive catalogues’ (Myers, 1999: 139), that are used to provide extensive company and product information.

The WWW lends itself to this type of approach since it is based on a two-way communications flow, which gives a more active role to the user in searching for the required information. This approach is particularly relevant when products are concerned, for which customers require a lot of information to support their decision making process, and this product information is highly perishable (Monye, 2000: 258). This is true in the case of T-Mobile; thus the Web is used for providing product information and stimulating visitors to local dealers, who will do the direct selling.

6. Case study: T-Mobile

6.1 Market background

The mobile communications field is about to move from a one-product national business into a complex multi-product international business. At the same time, the mobile communications industry is in a consolidation phase. Ten years ago, national operators with almost no international presence dominated their respective markets. With the further development of mobile communications, six major international operators have emerged – one of which is T-Mobile. Combined, these six operators have seen their collective international customer share triple over the past five years to more than 40 percent of the global market.15

T-Mobile has recently become the second largest mobile communications company in the world, being a merger of various local providers in Western and Eastern Europe, including one North American firm. The parent company of the T-Mobile group is the German firm ‘Deutsche Telekom’. The change makes all T-Mobile subsidiaries part of a global brand which operates mobile companies in the USA, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Poland, the Ukraine, Hungary and Russia. This merger involves a major rebranding process, during which the individual subsidiaries are renamed and the brand migration is communicated to internal and external stakeholders by means of large-scale marketing communications campaigns. In the United Kingdom, Austria, Poland and the U.S. this brand migration has already been executed. The other national providers are to follow the rebranding step by step throughout this year. T-Mobile intends that by the end of 2002 its key subsidiaries will all operate under the global ‘T-Mobile’ brand.

T-Mobile is engaged predominantly in digital wireless communications with approx. 67 million subscribers (customers). The mobile communications market has experienced significant growth during the last five years with 25 substantial wireless markets existing all over the world; T-Mobile offers services in 20 of these. T-Mobile uses and operates the Global System for Mobile communications technology platform (GSM), which is the established standard in most countries all over the world. Adopted by 158 countries, GSM accounts for approximately 70 percent of the total digital wireless market.

Since mobile telecommunications is a rather young market no business-field-specific marketing has emerged yet. This is due to the fact that country markets are not developed to a similar degree, that is degrees of penetration16 differ significantly. As a result of this differing market development the products and services offered do not have the same degree of acceptance in the individual country markets. Austria for instance has one of the highest penetration rates in Europe and all over the world, whereas in the U.S. penetration is still rather low, thus presenting still a huge potential for market development. However, the market positions of the individual providers within their respective country markets are similar. In the U.S., market share is not a meaningful measure of market position; however, T-Mobile U.S., formerly VoiceStream, is the only U.S. wireless mobile communications provider with a national GSM wireless technology network. Marketing in this field of business is in general characterised by the fact that marketing and communications practices are largely determined by the product-life-cycle. Thus a new product requires an aggressive communications approach, whereas an established product generally relies on a relationship approach.

6.2 T-Mobile’s global marketing communications

One of T-Mobile’s competitive strengths is the creation of a convincing marketing communication strategy worldwide under a single brand philosophy. An important aspect concerning the global brand ‘T-Mobile’ is the group’s (consolidated) vision and values.17 T-Mobile’s vision is to be among the three top global players.18 The company mission – also referred to as ‘business proposition’ - is to provide customers the best value in wireless service. This is communicated through the slogan “Get more“ that presents a promise to customers to provide “more value, more features and more service”19 than any other mobile communications provider in the markets they serve. Thus the name T-Mobile stands for “reliability, attractiveness and innovation leadership”20. T-Mobile pursues the themes of its vision and mission in all its marketing activities.

6.3 T-Mobile: Corpus description

The corpus that will be analysed includes the corporate web-site as well as the web-sites of the affiliate U.S. and the U.K provider. The sites of the two national providers and the corporate site will be compared in terms of their linguistic implementation of the global marketing communications goals.

Like all web-sites the corporate and local sites start with a homepage, that can be compared to the cover of a magazine (Marrelli, 1996: 242). It gives an idea of what the site is all about and where to go within the site to get the required information. From this page users can go to every topic that exists on this site by mouse clicking the highlighted links, since the discourse on the Web is based on a hypertext format. Viewing every page within the site all main topics of the site can be seen in a banner either at the top or at the left hand side of the page.

The web-site outline has a ‘tree’ structure: every main topic headline that appears in the banner can be mouseclicked. The banner headline upon pointing on it with the cursor then opens up revealing a list of subtopics, or so-called ‘subpages’. This path usually has only two, but may have a number of sub-levels.

On the corporate homepage the banner outlining the main topics is on the left-hand side and includes the topic links “About T-Mobile”, “Global Operations”, “Media Centre”, “Investor Relations”, “International Products”, and “Team T-Mobile”. On the U.S. homepage the main topic links of the banner at the top of every page are the following: “Products”, “Plans”, “Coverage”, “Company info”, “Help”, and “My T-Mobile”. On the U.K. homepage the main topic links in the banner, which is also at the top of the page, are: “Home”, “Search”, “Shop”, “Phones & Services”, “More from Your Mobile”, “Help & Advice”, and “My T-Mobile”. The main topic link “About T-Mobile” can be found at the bottom of every page within the site. The topic “My T-Mobile” that is present on both the U.S. and U.K. site makes use of individualism, that we have identified as a key principle of online marketing (cf. Ch. 5.2.6), by ‘pointcasting’ or tailoring the information to each individual user.

The subsequent analysis consists of two parts: the first part deals with product advertising of a global product, the second part is concerned with corporate advertising, that is aimed at building the image and reputation of the newly established corporation thereby enhancing awareness of the new brand “T-Mobile”. I’ve chosen these corpus pages because the products and services offered in the U.K. and the U.S. differ (as in all affiliate country markets); there is only one product that is truly standardized and thus available internationally, the ‘WorldClass’ tariff. Thus only the pages concerned with corporate advertising and product advertising of the global WorldClass tariff may be compared to each other. Hence in the first part of the analysis the WorldClass product advertising and in the second part the corporate advertising on the corporate, U.S., and U.K. web-sites will analysed and compared to each other in terms of their communicative goals and verbal and visual strategies employed.

The corpus pages of the first section concerned with product advertising of the World Class tariff can be found under the topic link “International Services”, which is a subpage of the main topic link “Products” on the U.S. site. On the U.K. site the corpus pages were taken from the subpages under the topic link “Our price plans”, which is a sublink under the main topic link “Phones&Services”. The page “Our price plans” contains three headlines, each which a picture and a short one-sentence body copy that denote three price plans; one of them is “One world, one tariff”, the subpages of which make up the U.K. corpus pages. The corpus pages on the corporate site are those subpages belonging to the topic link “WorldClass”, which is a sublink under the main topic link “International Products”.

The corpus pages of the second section concerned with corporate advertising are taken from the main topic link “Company info” on the U.S. site, from the main topic links “About T-Mobile” and ”Help&Advice” on the U.K. site, and from the main topic link “About T-Mobile” on the corporate site. The topic link “About T-Mobile” on the corporate site has the following subpages: “Global Player”, “Global Footprint”, “Brand Migration”, “Mobile Data”, “Management”, “Milestones” and “Deutsche Telekom”. Some of these subpages are further subdivided. All subpages under the main topic link “About T-Mobile” on the corporate site were included in the corpus. When clicking on the main topic link “Company info” on the U.S. site a page opens up that divides the information on this topic up in “About T-Mobile US”, “T-Mobile US Jobs”, “Conducting Business”, and “Communication”. The corpus pages were taken from the section “About T-Mobile US” with its topic links “About our company, “Quick facts”, “Meet Catherine Zeta-Jones”, “About our technology”, “Safety information”, and “TTY Policy Overview”. On the U.K. site the main topic link “About T-Mobile”, which is displayed at bottom of every page on the site and not in the banner at the top of the page, has the subpages “What is T-Mobile”, “Advertising”, “Sponsorship”, “Mobile Safety”, “Technical Information”, and “Contact us”; apart from “Advertising” and “Sponsorship”, that are only indirectly related to the corporate profile, all subpages of this section on the U.K. site were included in the corpus. Since company and corporate information is also included in the “common questions” section of the web-site, which is a subpage of the topic “Help&Advice”, the subpages concerned with the T-Mobile corporate profile were also included in the corpus. The “common questions” site contains a drop-down menu with a number of topic areas to chose from. One of these topic areas is “T-Mobile”; this finally is the page that contains company information, however, not in the form of a body copy as on the U.S. and corporate site, but in the form of ‘Frequently asked questions’ (FAQs).

This form of discourse is a commonly used method on Internet company web-sites in order to break down barriers to acceptance that consumers often show. These barriers refer to fears that consumer may have regarding e.g. reliability and security issues. Thus a common fear of T-Mobile customers during the process of rebranding was that the original company or brand vanished and left their existing customers to themselves. The FAQ-approach on the U.K. site therefore contains answers to common questions that consumers may have regarding the brand migration. The subpages outlined on all sites have an average length of one or two printed pages.

7. T-Mobile’s international online marketing communication strategies and their linguistic implementation

The subsequent analysis aims at investigating the verbal and visual strategies T-Mobile employs on its local and corporate web-sites related to corporate and product advertising, in order to achieve its international marketing communication goals. Whereas the web-sites differ in terms of their use of rhetorical devices and other verbal and visual strategies, they have a similar communicative goal using one or more of the general marketing communication strategies. Thus in the corpus analysed both the image building strategy for corporate advertising and the persuasive strategy for product advertising, as well the informative strategy for supplementary purposes are employed. The sections related to product advertising and corporate advertising will be analysed separately; however for comparative reasons the analysis of both parts will be based on the same categories including structure or layout features, stylistic features, lexico-syntactic features as well as rhetorical devices, and finally visual aids. The results of each section will be subsequently summarized and drawing on these findings a conclusion will be attempted as to whether the linguistic implementation of T-Mobile’s marketing communications strategies coincides with the insights of Chapter two regarding standardization versus adaptation.

7.1 Part I: Analysis of the online product advertising

This section discusses the advertising for T-Mobile’s global “WorldClass” tariff. The ultimate goal of all messages examined is to persuade potential customers to subscribe to this service.

7.1.1 Discourse and layout features

The traditional layout and discourse structure of persuasive messages includes the headline and body copy. It determines the appearance of the message transmitted. Ideally it is attractive and appealing to the eye in order to capture the reader’s attention and interest. The content of the structural elements is based on the AIDA model with its partial functions of attention, interest, desire, and action. The headline

The headline’s main function is to catch readers’ attention and motivate them to read the whole message. It usually gives an idea of what the message will be about, and is thus to be kept rather short. An attention-grabbing headline may be declarative, interrogative, imperative, testimonial, indirect, association of ideas, news, emotional, incongruous, identification, curiosity, bargain, humour, caption, topical or a slogan, features which are related to formal, pragmatic and semantic aspects (Bürli-Storz, 1980: 18). Therefore a headline may simultaneously associate ideas, be a caption and achieve this in a humorous way.

Whereas on the U.K page advertising the “WorldClass” tariff the headline is rather emotional, with

“One world, one tariff”

(see Appendix A: 14)

on the U.S. and corporate pages it is more rational than emotional:

“Wireless world travel made easy”

(see Appendix A: 4)

“Transatlantic mobile.”

(see Appendix A: 2)

Furthermore the U.K. page contains a subheadline that specifies the general information in the headline; its function is to enforce viewers’ curiosity and make them read the whole message:

“WorldClass gives you a single low call rate in and between 25 countries worldwide“

(see Appendix A: 14) The body copy

The function of the body copy is to create confidence in a product or service (Bürli-Storz, 1980: 18). It contains the verbal formulation of the message, that is hinted at or summarized in the headline. Body copies can take the form of shortcopies or longcopies (Janich, 1999: 45). Shortcopies are short texts, which do not feature more than five sentences and are not visually structured by means of paragraphs or sub-headlines. Thus they have a suggestive rather than informative function, creating credibility instead of informing. Longcopies consist of more than five sentences and represent more informative texts. In order to make the information easier to receive, many body copies are visually divided into paragraphs or separate sections with their own sub-headlines.

In this part of the corpus the web pages have an average length of one to two printed pages. Thus the analysed body copies represent rather long copies or something in between short- and longcopies. They are visually structured into paragraphs, which is a typical feature of longcopies. Since the main function of longcopies is to inform, the messages in this part of the corpus have the main function of inform, but also to persuade readers to subscribe to the “WorldClass” service. Whereas on the corporate site the product information is distributed over three subpages, on the U.S site the information is distributed over seven subpages with a lot of general information on roaming21. On the U.K. page it is distributed over four subpages with the headline and sub-headline on a separate page. Thus the general product information becomes more detailed proceeding down the tree path. This general structure relying on the hypertext format of online discourse facilitates understanding of the message, and is thus more reader-friendly than traditional magazine advertising. Readers can chose the amount of detail they require and are not overwhelmed with a flood of information when first clicking on a topic link. Text-based rhetorical devices – product and/or brand name repetition

Rhetorical devices are techniques that can be used to encode meaning, and are concerned with the modification of the readers’ conception and attitude toward the object of communication (Dormann, 1997). Dormann defines rhetorical devices as an “artful departure from the ordinary mode of speaking or writing”. Thus when persuasion is the overriding goal, the rhetorical perspective suggests that the manner in which a statement is expressed may be more important than its propositional content (McQuarrie/Mick, 1996). While the purpose of rhetorical devices is to motivate, influence, and even convince readers, its operational functions are to delight, to move and to inform by means of the ethical, emotional and rational strategies of appeal (Dormann, 1997).

The rhetorical device that is employed most frequently on all sites is brand or product name repetition. The rhetorical device of repetition “combines multiple instances of some element of the expression without changing the meaning of that element” (McQuarrie/Mick, 1996). The primary objective of repetition is to enhance recall by repeatedly exposing readers to a message (McQuarrie/Mick, 1996). Repetition in the corpus pages applies to both the corporate name T-Mobile and the brand name of the product advertised - WorldClass - , and serves to enhance brand awareness and recall. The brand or product names either stand on their own or – more often – are incorporated lexically or syntactically, as in this instance taken from the U.S. site:

“If you need a WorldClass device for a single trip, just rent one.”

(see Appendix A: 7)

Here, the brand name WorldClass is combined with the noun device to form the compound word WorldClass device. This lexical or syntactic incorporation of the brand name in general serves to repeat it as often as possible on the discourse level, so that readers after reading the whole message remember the brand or product name and file it away in memory. Here is another instance of brand and product name repetition from the U.K. site:

“Calls made from outside the WorldClass countries or from WorldClass countries to destinations outside the WorldClass countries are charged at standard T-Mobile roaming rates [...].”

(see Appendix A: 17)

Here both the product and corporate brand name are used to form the compound words WorldClass countries and T-Mobile roaming rates. The following is an example of brand name repetition found on the corporate site:

T-Mobile customers need no longer worry about different mobile communications tariffs on their travels.”

(see Appendix A: 2)

Hence on all sites the brand and product names are repeated on the discourse level to enhance brand awareness and recall.

7.1.2 Stylistic features Precision

Precision in advertising messages refers to giving exact details, usually pricing information and other numbers related to the product, in order to establish credibility and trustworthiness.

The local pages of this section of the corpus differ in their extent to which precision is employed from the corporate pages. Whereas the corporate page includes only general product information, the U.S. and U.K. sites contain detailed pricing and product information. Both the U.S. and U.K. pages contain approximately the same amount of information, thus relying on similar degrees of precision:

“New WorldClass rates begin at only 99 ¢ a minute in 26 European countries and cover more than 90 countries worldwide.”

(see Appendix A: 5)

“With our WorldClass tariff you can call anytime, in and between 25 countries worldwide, including the USA, for just 69p/minute (inc. VAT) with no additional monthly charge.”

(see Appendix A: 15)

The following subpages further detail the pricing information. While it might be argued that such a level of precision is not necessary, this kind of product that is characterised by the consumption of many small service units probably requires such an amount of precision. However, it can be observed that precision is a persuasive strategy that is employed frequently in online marketing. By using precise facts and figures e-commerce firms aim at giving potential customers the impression that they are dealing with a company that does not have to hide anything in trying to sell its products, giving all the necessary information at once. Thus precision may be a device for establishing credibility. However, this strategy is an informative one only on the surface; deep down it is a persuasive one, because the way the precise information is presented is aimed at making the viewer act and buy the service, thus following the AIDA model.

A comparison of the three ‘WorldClass’ sections on the three web-sites reveals that the linguistic strategies of precision employed on the local sites differs from those used on the corporate site. Whereas on the corporate site only general information is given, the local sites contain exact charges and figures, which indicates a ‘hard sell’ technique or a strong persuasive style. Furthermore all the information given on the local sites is supposed to quickly provide the reader with all the necessary information he needs in order to take action. In contrast, on the corporate site pricing information is only given in the news release (see Appendix A: 3). Whereas the local sites also give information about the different countries this service may be used in, the corporate site gives only general information about the ‘WorldClass’ tariff. The actual reason why the corporate site does not give precise information is that this site is not concerned with the immediate selling of these services. Factually no information given on the corporate site is geared towards direct selling. Although persuasive elements are included in the corporate discourse, these are not as strong in terms of immediate impact on the reader as on the local sites. Tone

The tone of a message conveys the sender’s attitude towards the message and the receiver. Thus tone refers to the way a statement ‘sounds’ (e.g positive or negative). Needless to say, the corpus, as almost any marketing communications message, has a positive tone that makes the message more pleasant, more diplomatic and helps to promote human relations. Positive words usually convey what can be done instead of what cannot be done. Thus the word ‘not’ indicates a negative tone. However, in some cases a negative tone may contribute to both clarity and human relations. In the following example the negative word not serves to sharpen a contrast, and thus increases clarity:

“ Calls made from networks that are not WorldClass partner networks but are made in WorldClass countries […] will be charged at 99 p/min […].”

(see Appendix A: 17)

In the next example the negative tone occurs together with the negative cognate worry:

“T-Mobile International customers need no longer worry about different mobile communications tariffs on their travels.”

(see Appendix A: 2)

This negation works to make the reader feel as if the product was able to do away with troublesome aspects of life, thus stressing the product benefit of convenience. The following example, too, represents an instance of negation of the negative cognates fees and charges respectively:

No hidden fees or extra charges”

(see Appendix A: 5)

A comparison of the three web-sites does not bring about any major differences as far as the tone of messages is concerned.

7.1.3 Lexico-syntactic features Compounds

Nouns and adjectives, which often form compounds, are the key words in marketing communications messages and perform most of their informative function (Bürli-Storz, 1980: 19). In contrast to simple, short, everyday words compounds do not have a polysemic variety of meanings. On the contrary, compound nouns or adjectives serve to make descriptions more precise. ”The aim of compound word-construction serves to specify the quality, to put in as much qualification at once as is possible, in order to exclude every possible ambiguity, even if lexical constraints must be violated” (Bürli-Storz, 1980: 20). The use of compounds serves to limit the number of words and complex sentences and makes the message more to the point. Thus by means of using compounds dense and precise information may be presented in the fewest possible words and sentences; a structure is then referred to as being lexically dense. Thus the use of compounds contributes to reader friendliness, since complex structures and long sentences do not motivate viewers to read the whole message. In general it may be said that readers prefer short, clear and precise messages; thus short messages are more likely to be read, and as a result are more likely to persuade readers to purchase.

On the corpus pages a general stock of compounds may be found, which frequently reappear, such as: WorldClass tariff, WorldClass countries, roaming calls, T-Mobile account, T-Mobile Business Solutions, T-Mobile online, WorldClass partner networks, nonpartner networks, data services, corporate clients, mobile phone rates, T-Mobile pay monthly customers, premium rate calls, directory enquiries, freephone calls. Sometimes one element of these compound words is missing, and sometimes the element is replaced by another. For instance, sometimes it says partner networks, other times it says WorldClass partner networks; another variant is T-Mobile partner networks. Thus we may conclude that there is a general stock of compound elements, that are combined with each other in a variety of ways. As a result there are some very long compounds, such as flat rate perminute calling. The lengths of the compounds on the corpus pages generally varies: some consists of two elements only, others consist of up to five elements. In the following table the most frequently occurring compound elements of this part of the corpus pages are listed:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 4: Frequently used compound elements (WorldClass)

The table shows that nouns are most frequently used. Thus the majority of compounds are noun compounds; either they consist of two or more nouns, or they consist of a noun and one or more adjective, adverb, verb or gerund. The compounds found here are primarily noun compounds, however, there are also instances where adjectives or verbs constitute compound elements. While nouns generally have the highest information weight, the main function of adjectives is to point to the positive characteristics of products or services (Janich, 1999: 96). The majority of nouns listed above are specific to the mobile communications business field. When reading through the list it becomes clear that we are dealing with a mobile communications company and we only need some words that connect these mostly noun compounds in order to understand the message.

We may conclude that this part of the corpus is lexically dense with significant use of nouns, that carry the most information. Thus we may also conclude that lexical density is a linguistic device related to the persuasive strategy. In terms of the AIDA model it relates to the last stage, that is action. By means of conveying information with the minimum amount of words readers are prompted to take quick action. This again supports the thesis that this part of the corpus is supposed to be primarily persuasive. Pronouns

In this section we will look at the use of first person personal pronouns.22 A first person pronoun that is employed on both local sites is ‘my’ that occurs in headlines or hyperlinks, such as “My T-Mobile” or “My cart”. This is a commonly employed online strategy23 to convey that information on web-sites can be customized according to the individual reader’s interests, relying on individualism as a key principle of interactive marketing (cf. Ch. 5.2.6).

While the first person pronouns ‘we’ and ‘our’ on the U.S. site are used to establish a personal relationship between the readers and the company and also suggest a popular ‘team-spirit’ to readers, on the corporate and U.S. sites this use of first person pronouns is comparatively low; instead they use the corporate name ‘T-Mobile’, such as in the following sample sentence taken from the corporate site:

“One of the first internationally available products of T-Mobile International AG is the WorldClass tariff.”

(see Appendix A: 1)

This sentenced might as well be phrased: ‘One of our first internationally available products ….’ The use of the third person viewpoint where the first person perspective may be possible has different effects. For instance, the reader may get the impression that the text was written by somebody outside the company, thus implying independence and objectiveness of the correspondence. This strategy may indeed be very effective in making the message appear neutral and unbiased. As a result readers are more likely to respond positively to the message received, and are more likely to believe the content of the message which may result in purchasing the service offered. In contrast on the U.S. pages first person pronouns are employed quite frequently. However, they are used in a way so as not to put the company at the centre of attention, but in order to express the ‘team-spirit’ associated with T-Mobile’s Corporate Identity.

The fact that the U.S. site apparently intentionally uses personal expressions, while the corporate and U.K. sites employ mostly, in the case of the corporate site, only impersonal expressions, and virtually no first person pronouns underscores the thesis that marketing communications in the U.S. focus on the you-attitude because North Americans prefer an informal communication style. The fact that this section of the corpus in general contains little messages associated with the ‘we-attitude’ support the observations made earlier that this section is mainly focused on persuasive or ‘hard sell’ strategies, supplemented by informative strategies, rather than focusing on image-building. Verbs

Leech (1966:154) observes that the twenty most common verbs of conventional advertising language are the following very commonplace English monosyllables: make, get, give, have, see, buy, come, go, know, keep, look, need, love, use, feel, like, chose, take, start, taste. He explains that all these verbs have a very general meaning; instead of contributing to the meaning of an advertising message they are “the ‘bare pegs’ on which descriptions of the product and its effects are loaded” (Leech, 1966: 154). Apart from lending themselves to a global use, these verbs, being short action or buzz words, help to put the message across quickly, thus contributing to reader friendliness.

Most of the words used in the corpus pages carry general meanings and can be used in various contexts. The fact that the auxiliary verb ‘to be’ is used as a full verb frequently confirms the hypotheses that verbs in advertising language do no carry important meanings24, while we have identified a general lexical density as regards nouns. Active and passive

A significant aspect regarding verbs is the active and passive voice. In sentences in which the subject is the ‘doer’ of action, the verbs are active, and in sentences in which the subject is the ‘receiver’ of action verbs are referred to as passive. The active voice contributes to the impression of a distinctive imagery and a dynamic presentation of ideas. Passive sentences, in contrast, do not reveal the ‘doer’ of the action, and even if they do they are less emphatic than active sentences. Thus the use of the active voice contributes to reader friendliness and can give a sense of urgency and therefore carry the reader through the text.

In spite of these advantages of the active voice, that thus can be generally expected to make up the bulk of advertising discourse, marketers sometimes make use of the passive voice for various reasons. First, the passive voice may conceal the ‘doer’. Second, the marketer may want to place more emphasis on the what was done than on who did it. A third reason for using the passive voice may be that the marketer wishes to de-emphasise an unpleasant thought.

This is confirmed through the corpus where in general the passive voice is used with ideas that put forward something rather negative, while the active voice is used with positive ideas, such as in the following example:

“T-Mobile makes wireless world travel easy by offering the largest international wireless community in the world.”

(see Appendix A: 4)

This is an active sentence that emphasizes a positive idea, underscoring the subject and ‘doer’ of action, T-Mobile. Instances of passive sentences may also be found that deal with rather negative issues; however, the passive voice makes them less irritating with the essential ideas being retained. Especially sentences concerned with the semantic field of charges or purchasing are often phrased using the passive voice:

“Calls made from WorldClass partner networks to destinations in WorldClass countries are charged at a rate of 69p/min […].”

(see Appendix A: 17)

“[…] their bill will be pro-rated accordingly”

(see Appendix A: 17)

Since information about charges for services or billing imply spending money, this for the reader unpleasant facts are de-emphasized using the passive form of the main verb together with an auxiliary verb to make the fact less irritating.

Most of the corpus discourse that is not concerned with pricing issues is in the active voice, that, as we outlined above, makes the message clear and thus readers are more likely to understand the message and more willing to spend time reading the message. As mentioned earlier on, readers generally prefer textual messages that are clear and easy to read. Moreover the active voice makes the message more vivid, which stimulates readers’ interest. A positive attitude towards the content of the message, conviction and persuasion to buy the products or services advertised may be the result.

As stated above, in active sentences the ‘doer’ of the action is the subject; therefore the focus is on the ‘doer’ of action. In the corpus the ‘doers’ of action are mostly either T-Mobile or their customers, or the reader. Most messages on the U.S. site are customer-oriented, with the ‘you-attitude’ dominating. But also on the corporate and U-K. sites where customers is used more often than personal pronouns, the ‘doers’ of action are clearly the potential customers. If the use of the passive voice was dominant on the U.S. site it would not be possible to personally address the reader. Instead, the message would sound very impersonal and generally the impression that customer satisfaction is T-Mobile’s key principle could not be conveyed. For instance, the sentence Otherwise, you may switch your SIM card to a world phone […], could be transformed into ‘Otherwise, the SIM card may be switched to a world phone’. The personal touch of the first version is quite apparent. Of course the passive sentence could also contain the personal pronoun ‘you’: ‘Otherwise, the SIM card may be switched by you’. Although the ‘doer’ of action is revealed here, this sentence sounds less emphatic than the active sentence because the attention is focused on the object SIM card.

Sometimes, however, the use of the passive voice is preferred as the analysis has shown. Especially the verb charge appears as in the passive voice several times, especially on the U.K. site. Here are three examples from the corporate and the U.K. site respectively:

“Telephone calls from over 20 T-Mobile partner networks […] are charged at the same minute rates with WorldClass.”

(see Appendix A: 2)

“Calls made from networks that are not WorldClass partner networks but are made in WorldClass countries […] will be charged at 99 p/min […]”

(see Appendix A: 17)

Here the reason for using the passive voice is to de-emphasise an unpleasant idea. The verb charge means that potential customers will have to pay something when using the WorldClass service; thus the attention is focused away on other elements of the sentence. Moreover the passive voice conceals the ‘doer’; here the doer of action – the company T-Mobile – is not stated at all. Of course the meaning that T-Mobile will charge for service provided is implicit in these passive sentences; however, by not stating the doer the content of the message can be de-emphasized. There are no instances of the verb ‘charge’ on the U.S. site. However, the passive voice is used here, too, in order to emphasize the ‘object’ rather than the ‘doer of action’, such as in:

“Your request will be processed within 24 hours.”

(see Appendix A: 6)

This idea was expressed in the passive voice to emphasize the object, in this case the request. T-Mobile as the company that carries this action out is not stated, since within the context the ‘doer of action’ is implicit in this sentence. The following is a sample from the corporate site:

“If use is made in the WorldClass countries of mobile communications networks other than those of the T-Mobile partner networks, T-Mobile customers likewise pay a standardized minute rate around-the-clock within the relevant WorldClass country and to the other WorldClass countries.”

(see Appendix A: 2)

Here, the function of the passive voice is to place more emphasis on ‘what’ is done rather than ‘who’ will do it. The focus is on the use of services, the doer of action is stated in the second part of the sentence. Emphasis on the ‘doer’ of the action in the first part of the sentence may be neglected because the goal is not to personally involve and address the reader but to provide necessary information.

To summarize this section, the active voice, which implies positive aspects, may be considered a typical feature of persuasive strategies. Since the U.S. site contains the least amount of passive sentences this again is evidence of the more persuasive American approach towards advertising the WorldClass service. The corporate and U.K. site apparently rely more on the informative strategy in order to appear serious and objective. This online marketing communications strategy in Europe may be considered to contribute towards a positive image, which is a prerequisite for selling a company’s products or services. Modal verbs

The use of modal verbs is a method to indirectly provoke action; usually they are used to tone down the impact of the full verb. The modal verbs used in the corpus include can, must and may. The modal verb will is mostly used as a tense marker in the corpus pages. The other kinds of modal verbs all have a different function. The modal verb ‘can’ occurs most often, followed by ‘may’ and ‘must’. The function of these modal verbs is either to call upon action in an indirect way or to make a negative idea, such as charges, sound less unpleasant. The modal verb ‘can’ is used in the corpus to indirectly call upon action, while ‘may’ is predominantly used to de-emphasise the content of the message, such as in this example from the U.S. site:

“Coverage areas may vary based on carrier.”

(see Appendix A: 5)

Here the modal verb may is used to tone down the impact of the full verb vary and therefore it makes the message appear less probable, and thus more likeable. The next is an example from the U.S. site, too, where

“If you don’t have a world phone, you can purchase or rent one.”

(see Appendix A: 6)

the modal verb can is used to call upon action and make the reader buy the product. Moreover the modal verb can has certain semantic qualities, such as in these instances from the corporate and U.K site respectively:

“[…] WorldClass customer can now ring for only 45 eurocents […].”

(see Appendix A: 3)

„With our WorldClass tariff you can call anytime [...].“

(see Appendix A: 15)

Here the modal verb can serves to convey to readers an impression of novelty and product advance. Generally the two local sites employ modal verbs on a more frequent basis than the corporate site. Sentence length

Sentence length is a criterion regarding the comprehensibility and clarity of texts (Janich, 1999: 124). Short sentences contribute to clarity and comprehensiveness of any discourse. Since the overall function of the online discourse analysed is to persuade customers, it is apparent that the message ought to be clear and comprehensive; thus short, factual sentences are preferred. In other words, concise messages are favoured, which means that ideas are expressed with a minimum amount of words. Concise messages save time for the reader; moreover readers’ attention is directed towards the important details and is not distracted by excessive detail.

According to Murphy (1991: 64) the average sentence length should be about 17 to 20 words. However, it is important that within the discourse there is a range from 3 to 30 words. If the sentences were be made up of a constant number of words, the discourse would be monotonous and boring to read; thus it would not make the reader want to read the whole message. However, there should not be too many sentences that are either under 10 words or exceed 40 words. If there are too many short sentences, the text would be choppy and unattractive; if there are too many long sentences the message would not be clear or easy to comprehend.

In the corpus pages a variety of sentence lengths may be found, which is supposed to make the message more interesting. Usually a short sentence is followed up by a rather long one; this varying sentence lengths occurs especially on the local sites, such as in the following example:

“Charges for domestic roaming depend on your rate plan. If you are on a nationwide plan, domestic roaming minutes and long distance charges are deducted from your ‘bucket’ of included monthly minutes.”

(see Appendix A: 15)

The first sentence contains 9 words, the second one 23 words. The second sentence is quite long, but the fact that the first one is rather short makes up for the detail in the second. Moreover the fact that they have different lengths contributes to reader friendliness for reasons stated above. Overall, however, whereas the corporate site and the U.K. site, contain rather long sentences, the U.S. site features rather short sentences, that are easier to comprehend. This again is evidence for the U.S.’s more persuasive and reader friendly approach. This reader friendliness, too becomes apparent when examining the sentence structure, which we will do in the next section. Sentence structure

There are simple, compound and complex sentences. A simple sentence contains a simple clause, a compound sentence consists of at least two independent clauses and a complex sentence consists of (at least) a dependent and an independent clause (Houle, 2002). Usually a simple sentence structure is preferred in advertising texts because the basic requirement for promotional messages to be successful is that they can be easily understood by recipients. If the sentence structure is too difficult, readers may not have the patience to read through the whole message. In general people take on a negative attitude towards sentences that are complex and confusing because considerable effort is required to read and understand them; often they have to be read twice in order to get the basic message.

An analysis of the corpus pages reveals that the corporate and U.K. site contain rather complex sentence structures, the U.S. site almost exclusively features simple and compound sentences. The U.S. subpage ‘Coverage and Roaming’ begins with a paragraph that does not contain any complex sentences:

“New WorldClass rates begin at only 99¢ a minute in 26 European countries and cover more than 90 countries worldwide. All you need is a dualband or triband device, have international roaming activated on your T-Mobile account and you’re ready to go.”

(see Appendix A: 5)

This paragraph contains independent clauses, thus the readers’ attention is directed towards the important details. Since there are no complex sentences in this paragraph, the ideas put forward are clear and easily comprehended. Thus readers are more likely to read on and may even subscribe to a T-Mobile service. In contrast, on the corporate and U.K. sites complex sentences, such as the following from the U.K site, are frequently employed:

“Calls made from outside the WorldClass countries or from the WorldClass countries to destinations outside the WorldClass countries are charged at standard T-Mobile roaming rates, as are premium calls, directory enquiries, freephone calls and text messages; […].”

(see Appendix A: 17)

This sentence consists of a dependent and an independent clause; moreover it is quite long, and thus a bit difficult to understand. A comparison of the corporate, U.K. and U.S. sites in terms of sentence structure again suggests that the U.S. discourse is more reader friendly and thus more persuasive than the corporate and U.K. one.

Subsequently we will consider some rhetorical devices on the word- and sentence level that have been employed in the corpus pages. Word-based rhetorical devices Comparative

According to Baumgart in advertising texts the comparative is used as a means of differentiating a company’s products from competitive products, however, for legal reasons it does not use competitive products as a point of reference (1992: 57). Baumgart refers to this rhetorical device as ‘empty comparatives’ and emphasizes the practical significance of the word ‘more’ in advertising strategy and execution (1992: 57). She suggests ironically that employing the word ‘more’ in ad copies and particularly slogans relieves the copywriter of his task to factually say what – apart from the properties mentioned - makes the product distinctive. Thus ‘more covers all positive associations that the reader might have with regard to the product without having to make concrete suggestions (1992: 147). The ‘empty comparative’ is thus a useful device as it enables implied comparison with competitive products, and carries a general message of “more value”, and thus a better value-price-ratio.

New WorldClass rates […] cover more than 90 countries worldwide.”

(see Appendix A: 5)

The expression more that is featured in the sample sentence above, is an effective means to attract readers’ attention and factually is a key word in T-Mobile’s marketing communication strategy communicating their value proposition to customers. Thus more, as outlined above , encountered in T-Mobile discourse in general means ‘added value’. The T-Mobile slogan “Get More”, that appears in the corpus pages of this section, is an example of an implied comparison; the word more specifies comparison with another firm or product. It serves as a rhetorical device influencing consumers’ perception, who nowadays can be said to generally want more and never to be satisfied. Superlative

The superlative is a rhetorical device for attracting attention, describing a product as being of the highest quality, thus implying that the product is better than competitive ones. Thus there are a variety of legal regulations controlling the use of superlatives (Bürli-Storz, 1980: 22). Hence advertisers use alternative expressions, that have a similar effect, such as the implied superlative, using adjectives, such as ‘perfect’ or ‘unique’, or the use of the definite article (Baumgart, 1992: 221). Examples of superlatives found in the corpus include largest, most extensive, latest. Deconcretisation

This rhetorical device is related to moving away from overt (‘hard sell’) to covert persuasive strategies, thus using more abstract than concrete concepts to describe a product. Deconcretisation refers to the deliberate use of hyponyms in product descriptions that are related more to the promised benefits than the properties of the product itself (Baumgart, 1992: 56). Deconcretisation is used to trigger associations and is generally aimed at evoking positive feelings, emotions and experiences.

While no instances of deconcretisation could be found on the corporate and U.K. site, this is an example from the U.S. pages:

“T-Mobile make wireless world travel easy by offering the largest international wireless community in the world.”

(see Appendix A: 4)

The adjective easy implies ease–of-use and convenience; the noun community evokes associations with family and friends. These words are examples of emotive generalizations of the properties of the service offered, since there is no indication what easy and community actually refer to. Sentence-based rhetorical devices Hyperbole

Hyperbole, the counterpart of understatement, deliberately exaggerates conditions for emphasis or heightened effect (Houle, 2002; Harris, 2002), and is used to make an object more prominent (Dormann, 1997). The use of comparatives and superlatives serves to point to the unique characteristics of a product or service (Bürli-Storz, 1980: 19). Superlatives in particular are used to convey to customers that a product or service is outstanding; thus a company may differentiate their product or services from competitive products. A hyperbole can take different forms, such as the grammatical superlative, expressions with the definite article, superlative expressions, such as ‘I never had… in my life’ or the intensified superlative (‘newest…of all’). Furthermore emotive generalizations, such as ‘attractive’; ‘beautiful’, gorgeous’, ‘delightful’, ‘delicious’, ‘nutritious’, ‘perfect’, ‘superb’, ‘unique’, ‘wonderful’ are exaggerative expressions. Most of these expressions are not specific to the product advertised and actually quite meaningless; their function is to create an atmosphere of excitement or pleasure, for example.

In the corpus a limited number of different hyperbolic expressions may be found. However, there are a few expressions that are repeatedly used. Examples of hyperbole in the corpus are: new, easy, favourable, over, low, more than or anytime. The overall function of these expressions is to excite readers and give them the impression that they are dealing with a provider that has the best product/service offers and prices. Hyperbole is more frequently employed on the U.S. pages than on the U.K. and corporate sites. The following is an example from the U.S. site:

New WorldClass rates begin at only 99¢ a minute in 26 European countries and cover more than 90 countries worldwide.”

(see Appendix A: 5)

Here, the use of the word new emphasizes the fact that this tariff is a novel one, that has only recently been introduced. Consequently the reader gets the impression that he/she is dealing with a company that is innovative and constantly expands its range of products and services. Thus this rhetorical device, too is related to the persuasive strategy. The use of easy such as in,

Easy to verify billing charges”

(see Appendix A: 5)

implies ‘convenience’ emphasizing the fact that customers do not have to incur any inconvenience when they decide to subscribe to T-Mobile services.

The fact that the U.S. pages overally contain more hyperbolic expressions suggest that the American approach relies more on the persuasive strategy than the U.K. and corporate sites. Ellipsis

Ellipsis refers to the omission of one or more words, which must be supplied by the reader (Houle, 2002). According to Bürli-Storz (1980: 19), short elliptic sentences with disjunctive grammar25, that are independent are a typical feature of persuasive messages. Thus a nominal group can be equivalent to a sentence in terms of its pragmatic function. Ellipsis serves the brevity principle of promotional messages. The advantage of employing elliptic sentences is to save space and avoid drawing attention to features of the message which do no serve the advertiser’s interest. According to Cook (1992: 172), elliptic sentences can imply cooperation, informality, shared knowledge and intimacy.

In the corpus ellipsis is almost only employed on the U.S. site and there mostly in the form of lists, that are used to put forward a variety of product benefits in a short and concise way with bullet points in front of each argument which establish a reader-friendly layout. Examples include:

“No hidden fees or extra charges”

“ One rate based on the country you visit”

“Easy to verify billing charges”

“Around the world coverage”

(see Appendix A: 5)

By means of leaving out certain syntactic categories the reader’s attention is focused on factual information. Complete sentences might distract the reader from the important information to be conveyed.

Furthermore, headlines and subheadlines on the corpus pages are elliptic sentences quite often, such as these examples from the U.S. site:

“Rates at a glance”

(see Appendix A: 5)

“Wireless world travel made easy”

(see Appendix A: 4)

The function of these headlines is to catch the reader’s attention quickly. Thus the headline should contain the minimum number of words. Therefore, function words and other words that carry little meaning are left out. In the examples above the focus is on nouns, since they carry the most important meaning.

This section, too, support the thesis that the U.S. site makes greater use of rhetorical devices, thus being more persuasive than the U.K and corporate sites. Repetition

Repetition “combines multiple instances of some element of the expression without changing the meaning of that element” (McQuarrie/Mick, 1996). Repetition is a popular rhetorical device related to persuasive strategies and may be applied to a variety of linguistic levels. In the corpus pages instances of repetition were found on the discourse, syntactic, lexical and prosodic level. Since we are dealing with lexico-syntactic features here, we will look at doubling/emphasis, parallelism and sequence as forms of repetition. Doubling

Doubling primarily refers to the repetition of the brand name, but may also concern the repetition of key words or word-fragments, and serves to promote readers’ memorizing of slogans (Baumgart, 1992: 58).

Few instances of doubling were found in the corpus pages of this section; the following is an example from the U.K. site:

“One world, one tariff”

(see Appendix A: 14)

In this headline the word one is doubled in order to enhance recall and establish and emotional appeal of the message. Parallelism

Parallelism refers to a similarity of structure in a pair or series of related words, phrases, or clauses (Houle, 2002). This rhetorical device, for instance, helps to order, clarify, emphasize, and beautify a thought (Harris, 2002). The principle of parallel construction applies not only to elements in a series that appear in a sentence, but also to major units in an outline, to subunits that appear under a major unit, and to headings that appear on printed pages. The main function of this rhetorical device is to catch readers’ attention, to emphasize the content, and to make the reader memorize the message better. Here are some examples of parallel sentence structure in the corpus:

“To do this, select “Message Setting”, and edit accordingly.”

(see Appendix A: 11)

“You must call Customer Care at 1-800-937-8997 and request “International WorlClass Roaming” [...]”

(see Appendix A: 10)

Here we have parallel sentence structures within a sentence, with two independent clauses linked by the conjunction and. These sample sentences were taken from the U.S. site, which frequently employs parallel sentence structures, particularly in the “Activate WorldClass Service” and the “FAQ” section, which indicates that parallelism is chiefly used to facilitate recall on the part of the reader. The next sample has a parallel syntax; moreover the word one is repeated:

“You will have one phone and one phone number”

(see Appendix A: 7)

This works to create the notion of convenience and ease of use. In the next example the two first sentences in a list with bullet points preceding – we call it tabulation - have the same syntax:

“You will have one phone and one phone number”

“You will receive a free complete accessory pack”

(see Appendix A: 7)

The following two sentences in the list also have a parallel sentence structure with the adjective free at the beginning of the sentence:

“Free delivery overnight to most US locations”

“Free return if you change your mind”

(see Appendix A: 7)

As we can see, the rhetorical device of ellipsis is in evidence here, too. As a result these sentences with parallel syntax, which contain ideas that belong together, are emphasised. Furthermore, this sentence structure greatly contributes to clarity, which too, makes the message easier to memorize. Apparently the content of this message is quite important to remember because the technique of tabulation is used here. It means that units of a series are placed in a column and indented. Since each unit in the series is on a line by itself and because the arrangement consumes more space on the page, a tabulated series attracts attention, and makes it easy to locate the message on the page.

On the U.S. site parallelism can also be found beyond the sentences level, such as in:

“While roaming domestically, you will not be billed roaming charges […].

“However, while roaming internationally, you will be billed roaming and long distance charges […].”

(see Appendix A: 11)

This is an instance of two parallel sentences making up a paragraph about billing with the same syntactic structure that contributes to ease of memory on the part of the viewers.

Again analysis of this section revealed that parallelism was almost only employed on the U.S. site for reasons of facilitation of recall and attention grabbing. This again suggests that the U.S. site pays particular attention to reader-friendliness, which in turn contributes to the site’s persuasiveness. Sequence

A sequence is an attractive, appealing rhetorical device, that is used for a variety reasons, and may take on a variety of forms, such as alliteration. Alliteration refers to the repetition of initial consonant sounds; this re-occurrence is usually limited to two words (Harris, 2002).

Again, instances of alliteration were only found on the U.S. site, such as in:

W ireless w orld travel made easy”

(see Appendix A: 4)

Here the initial consonant sounds of the first two words in the headline are the same; this serves to capture readers’ attention and enhance recall. Commands

Another feature of the persuasive strategy is the frequent use of commands, that are realized through the use of imperatives (Baumgart, 1992: 65). Commands have the function to directly call upon readers to take action, to buy a service, or obtain more information by e.g. calling a service number or mouse clicking on a hyperlink. Imperative constructions in general can make a message more clear and easy to understand. Thus commands may vary in strength, ranging from a simple invitation to obtain more information to a direct call to buy a product. Hence the use of imperatives can be related to the action stage of the AIDA model. The most direct expression to call upon readers to take action would be ‘Buy X’. As mentioned earlier on, the word ‘buy’ has negative connotations; therefore various synonyms or partial synonyms are used instead in advertising type of texts. Partial synonyms of buy that are used in the corpus include ‘activate’ and ‘rent’.

In the corpus pages there are various instances of commands in headlines, as in the following examples:

Activate WorldClass International service”

(see Appendix A: 6)

Rent a device for use abroad”

(see Appendix A: 7)

These headlines both feature imperatives in order to make the reader take action, that is to buy the product or service. In the first headline the word activate is used as a partial synonym of ‘subscribe to’ or ‘purchase’. While the latter words are associated with spending money, the verb activate has positive connotations. The fact that the words ‘subscribe to’ or ‘buy’ are not used here is due to the fact that the marketer attempts not to be too imposing on the reader, for if the reader feels the message to be too intrusive he is likely to react in a negative way. Therefore the U.S. site uses verbs which are less direct in their imperative form to manipulate readers into taking action.

Apart from provoking action imperatives create an atmosphere of urgency. A feature of the Internet that further contributes to this goal of taking immediate action is interactivity. By means of the hypertext structure potential customers may mouse click on given links (e.g. ‘click here for [..]’) and may subscribe to a service immediately and conveniently.

On the corporate and U.K. sites imperatives occur that have the function to invite readers to obtain more information, such as in:

“Get more information”

(see Appendix A: 2)

“Click here for full network and pricing information”

(see Appendix A: 15)

The last is an example of a commonly used online method to draw readers to purchase a product or service that relies on the hypertext structure of online discourse. The first page usually contains general information on the product or service to make the reader interested (this refers to the ‘attention’ and ‘interest’ stages of the AIDA model) and invites the reader to get more information at the bottom of the page. Reading through one or more subpages with more detailed product information (that are aimed at gaining the readers ‘desire’ to possess the product) the reader is finally asked to purchase (the ‘action’ step); usually this invitation is made by means of the same phrase ‘Click here’ in the form of a hyperlink that was used before to ask the reader to obtain more information. This way the reader is manipulated into feeling that this is only another step in a given process; he ideally does not feel as if he was making a purchase decision, but as if he was just following a natural procedure. The hypertext format contributes to the goal of making the reader act because it demonstrates how easy and convenient it is to obtain more information or actually buy a service.

The analysis of imperatives used in the corpus again supports the thesis that the U.S. site employs a more persuasive strategy. Whereas on the corporate and U.K. sites imperatives are only used to invite readers to obtain more information, on the U.S. site synonyms of the word ‘buy’ are used in the imperative form to call upon the reader to take action, that is to buy a product or service. Direct address

Due to the customer-orientation of marketing, marketers need to place themselves in the background, focusing on problem solutions for customers. In advertising this may be done by means of directly addressing the reader, thus assuming an existing relationship by means of using the personal pronouns ‘you’, ‘your’, or ‘yours’. This rhetorical device conveys a feeling that the message is specifically for the receivers. Moreover presenting messages from the reader’s point of view heightens interest and message relevance and increases the vividness of a message. This ‘you-attitude’ of messages, too, suggests that the marketing communication is centred on the customer rather than on the company that sells the products or services. Thus marketers in communicating their customer orientation make heavy use of second person pronouns and generally avoid using first person pronouns, such as ‘we’, which may convey to readers that the company is self-centred rather than customer-centred. Here are two examples of this ‘you-attitude’ taken from the U.S. site:

“All you need is a dualband or triband device, have international roaming activated on your T-Mobile account, and you’re ready to go.”

(see Appendix A: 5)

“If you already have a T-Mobile world phone, we can set you up with a WorldClass before you leave.”

(see Appendix A: 4)

In the first sentence the personal pronoun you occurs two times and the possessive pronoun your occurs one time. In the second sentence the personal pronoun you occurs three times. Thus the you-attitude is quite obvious here; the reader must feel being personally addressed. This personal involvement of the reader subconsciously stimulates his interest, and thus he is more likely to read through the whole message.

On both the corporate and U.K. sites the reader is not addressed directly, the texts mostly use the impersonal expressions ‘customers’ or ‘clients’ to refer to its customers, such as in this sample taken from the U.K. site:

Customers can opt in or out of the WorldClass tariff […]”

(see Appendix A: 17)

While this approach is not as effective in gaining reader involvement as the you-attitude, it may be observed that the frequent use of the word customer is still successful in conveying the notion that T-Mobile is a customer-centred provider. The impersonal expressions probably work to subconsciously suggest to readers the company’s objectiveness in communication. Understatements

Understatements deliberately express an idea as less important or serious than it actually is (Houle, 2002). Understatements, such as only or just re-occur frequently together with messages featuring exact numbers and pricing issues, in order to relativize the precision, as in the following sample:

“With our WorldClass tariff you can call anytime […], for just 69 p/min with no additional monthly charge”

(see Appendix A: 15)

“[...] Worldclass customers can now ring for only 45 eurocents instead of 89 – and in fact round the clock.”

(see Appendix A: 3)

The way understatements are used here suggest that they have the same function as hyperbolic expressions. Mostly these understatements are used in messages related to pricing and thus make the price appear low . Just is an understatement, that works to subliminally influence the reader that the charge of 69 p/min is very cheap. The reader is supposed to think that he or she is able to make a rational decisions based on precise information. However, by means of putting just right before the exact price the company converts the objective and precise information into a biased one, without the reader being consciously aware of this manipulation. This rhetorical device of combining a precise fact with an understatement makes the reader believe both that 69 p/min is cheap and that this message is un-biased information. Thus it may be argued that here understatements are used in the sense of litotes by means of negating the opposite (a charge is stated, but an understatement relativizes it). Another example in which the exactly stated charge is relativized by an understatement is the following:

“ New WorldClass rates begin at only 99¢ a minute […].”

(see Appendix A: 5)

Here only is an understatement that makes the price appear low. All sites make use of understatements, however, in varying degrees. Antithesis

Antithesis is the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas, often in parallel structures (Baumgart, 1992: 62). The opposition in antithesis can reside either in the words or the ideas or both (Dormann, 1997). Hence facts are formulated in a way so that clear contrasts evolve; if an opposition does not really exist it may be created be means of simplification of matters (Schlüter, 1988: 42, cf. Baumgart, 1992: 62). In this part of the corpus no instances of antithesis could be found. Two-part figure

A two-part figure refers to slogans that consist of two syntactically separated elements, that are juxtaposed to each other, i.e. similar to a mathematical equation (Baumgart, 1992: 62). Such a slogan usually consists of the brand or product name and a statement immediately following after. The full-stop after the company name is to mean ‘stands for’.

On all sites above the picture banner at the top of the every page there appears the T-Mobile logo on the left hand side and the ‘Get more’ proposition on the right hand side. While on the corporate site it just says “Get more”, on the U.S. site is says “Get more from life” and on the U.K. site it says “Get more options”26. Although, these structures are images rather than textual elements of the discourse, they may be considered two-part figures. Thus the aim is to establish an immediate association between the slogan ‘Get more’ and the brand name ‘T-Mobile’.

7.1.4 Visual aids Typography

Typography refers to the size and style of lettering. Capital letters, for instance, have the main function to emphasize certain words or ideas. Capital letters are mostly used in headings, such as:

A ctivate W orld C lass I nternational service”

(see Appendix A: 6)

Here, the initial letters of all words appear in capital letters. Moreover the brand name is a compound word consisting of two nouns, whose initial letters are capitalized. The purpose of capital letters is to gain attention and make the words stick out. This technique is often used in headlines because their main function is to capture readers’ attention and motivate them to read the rest of the message.

Another way to emphasise certain words or phrases is to write everything in capital letters, which of course only makes sense when the words in the semantic environment are not capitalized, such as in:

“NOTE: In addition to having a dual or tri-band phone, the International roaming WorldClass feature is also required.”

(see Appendix A: 10)

Since the word NOTE is fully capitalized it catches the reader’s attention. The imperative note introduces the following paragraph, which contains important information. Thus, the whole paragraph is emphasized. Another popular feature of advertising language is to capitalize key words in ‘hard sell’ type of messages , such as ‘FREE’, as in this example from the U.S. site:

“In order to activate WorldClass International service you need a T-Mobile world phone to add the FREE WorldClass feature to your account.”

(see Appendix A: 6)

The fact that words with capitalized letters appear only on the U.S. site is evidence for our thesis that the U.S. approach relies more on the persuasive strategy than either the German or the U.K. one.

Furthermore type-size and typeface are typographical devices to visually mark the layout of the message. Every page within the respective sites has more or less the same pattern. The letters in the headline have a large and bold type-size and face. Some pages, too have subheadings, such as:

“Rates at a glance”

(see Appendix A: 5)

Here, the type size is a little smaller than that of the headings, but the letters are bold. On the U.S. site texts are often introduced and summarized after the heading and before the body copy to catch the reader’s attention, such as in:

“If you need a WorldClass device for a single trip, just rent one.”

(see Appendix A: 7)

This introductory sentence has a bold typeface, too in order to stick out. Moreover on the U.S. site there are two subpages titled “FAQs” and “Travel tips”, that contain frequently asked questions and travel tips respectively, such as:

“What is Roaming?”

(see Appendix A: 10)

“International travel tips”

(see Appendix A: 13)

These frequently asked questions and tips introducing a certain semantic field have bold type face and a different colour, to facilitate locating the individual questions and tips. The body copy has a standard type-size and typeface on all sites. On the U.S. site important words have a bold typeface. At first glance the reader has to be able to grasp what is important and what he or she should read first. Since the headlines have the biggest type size and a bold typeface, too, readers will automatically pay attention to the headline first. It is supposed to attract the readers’ attention and make them want to read on. Since readers’ attention is supposed to be captured by the headline, the body copy can be written in standard type-size and typeface. On the U.S. site the use of capital letters fulfils the function to emphasize certain words.

Moreover it is important to note that all web pages on the individual sites have a similar pattern of type-size and type-face, which gives a sense of unity, and “makes the ads appear to be a unified whole rather than a series of disconnected parts” (Wilsmshurst, 1991: 138). Moreover the typeface and size and overall Web layout, too is standardized over all T-Mobile sites, for Corporate Identity reasons, so that customers immediately recognize when they surf onto a T-Mobile site. Thus readers can better compare different pages and sites, too, and easily recognize the structure of the text. At first glance they can figure out the headline, subheadline and body copy, and so on. As a result the reader develops a positive attitude towards the messages and is more likely to respond to them in a positive way.

Another important visual feature is the use of colored letters. The basic colour of the letters is black. On the U.K. site headlines are written in magenta letters; on U.S. site the individual frequently asked questions and headlines of the separate travel tips are in magenta letters. Moreover, hyperlinks are in magenta letters, too in order to make them stick out. This is another feature that contributes to reader-friendliness, attention grabbing and consistency of layout related to Corporate Identity issues, since the T-Mobile company logo is magenta. Since this is a unique colour, it helps to reflect the company’s Corporate Identity and helps to mould its image in a positive way. Colour is an important feature of Corporate Identity design since it facilitates perception, awareness and recall. People are supposed to associate the colour magenta with T-Mobile. The fact that the U.S. site uses typography and colour more consistently, again supports the thesis we have established in the above sections. Image and text

Communication may take the form of both verbal and visual communication, that is both words and images can be used to communicate. Visuals are thought to be better at capturing readers’ attention and imagination; they also communicate faster than words and are thought to be easier to remember (Wells et. al, 1998: 407). As Dormann points out, images can add a lot to the visual appeal and information content of a page (1997). Furthermore images can be essential for understanding the message, or the content, of the page by clarifying information that would otherwise be difficult to understand without them (Dormann, 1997).

From the semiotic point of view images have the function of ‘signs’, which means that they ‘stand for’ something. Williamson (1998: 20), in quoting C.S. Pierce, defines the meaning of a sign: “ A sign is something which stands to somebody for something else, in some respect or capacity” (cited in Williamson, 1998: 20). O’Sullivan (1998: 214) takes up Saussure’ s model that divides a sign into its two constituent elements: the signifier (its physical form as perceived by our senses) and the signified (the mental concept of what it refers to). Vestergaard adopts Pierce’s observation that there are three types of relations between and object and its sign - icon, index and symbol – that can be described in terms of decreasing degrees of naturalness:

“the icon is a sign, whose connection with its object rests in some kind of similarity, the indexical relationship is a relation of contiguity, and finally the symbol is a sign where the connection between the sign and its object is based (more or less) purely on convention” (Vestergaard, 1993: 39).

Thus symbols are the most unnatural images. However, since a symbol is primarily a way of conceiving of one thing in terms of another, its primary function is to facilitate understanding, but it also extends communication by playing on connotations it evokes, that make the meaning of text richer and can be essential to discourse (Dormann, 1997). Furthermore there are different relationships between visual and verbal information to be communicated. The relationship can be either balanced, or the verbal or visual information can be dominant.

In the corpus the verbal information is generally dominant. The texts and thus verbal information is placed in the foreground. Pictures, apart from those in the banner at the top of the page, that are visible on whatever page is clicked on within the site, are placed in the upper left hand corner. Since we are not dealing with a physical product here but a service, the function of the picture is still to support the content of the verbal message. The purpose of the picture is to create a certain atmosphere, that ought to make the message more interesting and appealing. Another aspect that is relevant when evaluating verbal and visual messages, is that texts and their units – sentences -, have a beginning and an end, and thus can only be read through a process with starting and ending. Pictures, on the other hand, lack this temporal dimension; it is possible to survey a whole picture at once (Vestergaard, 1993: 44).

Furthermore the layout of the page gives emphasis to the picture. There is a certain way in which pages, specifically web pages, are read with the eye moving from the upper left corner of the page to the right corner then diagonally down to the lower left and finally to the lower right corner of the page (Vestergaard, 1993: 44). The eye thus moves in a so-called Z pattern, starting at the top left quadrant, which therefore may be considered the most important section of a page regarding its layout. Whereas on the U.K. site there are no pictures apart from the first page, where the picture is located above the introductory headline, on the corporate and U.S. site the picture is located at the left had side of the page. On the U.S. site the picture is placed in the top left quadrant; according the theory it thus gets special emphasis, since it is the first thing that the eye perceives. At the first glance, the reader gets an impression about what the message is about. In general, however, images are ambiguous and therefore only verbal information can clarify the intended meaning.

While on the corporate page there are two different images, on the U.K. site there is only one image above the hyperlink that leads to the three subpages that feature no image. On the U.S. site there is only one image, which occurs on all subpages. The relationships between the signs and their objects vary; either the signs are icons or symbols with regard to their object.

The image on the first page of the U.K. site shows a passport that stands for international travel activity. Thus this image communicates that the WorldClass tariff is a useful service for international travelling. However, this interpretation is only possible after one has read the verbal text. Since the connection between international travel activity and roaming is based on conventions only, this may be considered an instance of a symbol. The picture alone only communicates vague information. Some readers may not necessarily associate a passport with roaming. In any case, the picture calls for interpretation, and thus the reader is forced to participate actively, for instance by clicking on the hyperlink to get to the main body copy text. As a result the reader gets involved and is more likely to read the text on the following subpage(s) to be able to understand the whole message. Although the verbal text underneath the picture gives an idea about what the message is about, the picture helps to attract the reader and makes him want to read the text. In combination with the text the picture becomes clear; having read the text the picture communicates that T-Mobile has a useful service for people, who travel internationally.

On the U.S. site the picture that reappears on all subpages shows the globe, which in semiotic terms may be considered another instance of a symbol, symbolizing the object abstractly rather than resembling what the message (roaming) means. Hence the relationship between the world and roaming is an arbitrary one, based purely on convention. Being a symbol, however, it evokes positive connotations and facilitates understanding. With this symbol the message, too gains emotional appeal. As Myers points out (1999: 61 ff.) the image of the globe is commonly used in international marketing communications and can suggest global reach of brands, travel or communications. These are all signified items that T-Mobile wants to represent in the marketplace. Since here the picture is located in the upper left quadrant, it is the first thing that catches viewers’ attention. The same considerations apply to this image as well, however the fact, that the picture re-appears on all subpages has an additional positive effect. After the reader has finished reading the text (and he does not have to read all subpages to understand what the message is about), the picture may again catch his eye. Thus the main message is summarized and emphasized by just taking one brief look at the picture again.

On the corporate site with only three corpus page, there is another image: an iconic sign of a globe with an orbit made up of T-Mobile ‘digits’ that are part of the company logo, and the WorldClass logo underneath. The T-Mobile logo with its distinctive ‘digits’ stands for the company T-Mobile as a whole. Even more, readers are supposed to associate magenta ‘digits’ without the ‘T-Mobile’ lettering with the company T-Mobile. Logos fulfil an important function in marketing communication, because they help to give a company a unique identity, thereby even ‘humanizing’ it by presenting a distinctive personality. Thus a logo reflects a company’s identity and helps to mould its image in a positive way. The whole picture of the globe with the T-Mobile logo elements creatively incorporated in the image by means of an orbit, communicates that T-Mobile is a company operating globally and offering international mobile communications services. The simplicity of the logo makes it memorable. Moreover, simplicity, including common connotations such as straightforwardness, is often associated with quality. Therefore the image communicates that T-Mobile is a provider which offers quality mobile communications services. In this case the picture both helps to convey a positive image and communicates ideas contained in the verbal message, which is a very clever thing for a marketer to do.

We can summarize this section by concluding that, as far as the relationship between pictures and text is concerned, the corporate site is the most effective, in terms of persuasive, image-building and informative strategies employed. The U.S. site is effective too in terms of consistency of visual imagery used, while the U.K. site is not very effective in terms of visual strategies, since it contains only one picture at the beginning of the corpus pages, which has not been selected carefully either. Other visual aids

Other visual aids in web texts can be generally grouped into four categories: tables, figures, pictures and diagrams. Apart from pictures, as described above, tables are a visual aid that is frequently employed on the corpus pages. Tables are an organized presentation of facts and figures using a structure of columns and rows for presentation. Visual aids can serve various purposes: generating and holding audience interest, increasing audience recall and attention, clarifying and emphasizing information and adding credibility and persuasiveness.

Whereas the corporate site contains no tables since there is no pricing information, the U.K. and U.S. sites contain tables concerning pricing and network information for roaming services that serve to clarify information that is very complex and detailed. If this information were communicated verbally, several pages of text would be the result. A table, however, can quickly summarize text while emphasizing the most important points and giving a structure to the information, thus clarifying the message and thus making it more comprehensible and memorable. Another important aspect of the presentation of these tables concerning mainly pricing information is that they add credibility and persuasiveness. This may be because visual aids convey a sense of professionalism; thus they are more credible and as a result more persuasive.

An analysis of the tables incorporated on the local sites reveals that the structure of tables is an important aspect contributing towards the clarity of the information presented. On the U.S. site, for example, there is table titled “Rates at a glance” with countries listed in rows that stand for certain calling rates. Thus the reader at the first glance can pick out the countries he is interested in and see what rates are charged there. In contrast on the U.K. site there is a table containing at first glance confusing codes and network company names, that certainly does not contribute to the clarity of the message. On the contrary, the reader is likely to be confused and as a result will not read on and will not establish a positive attitude towards the service advertised, (and will probably not subscribe to the service).

Hence again we have found evidence that the U.S. site as regards visual aids is more reader friendly and thus more persuasive.

7.1.5 Summary of findings

Interestingly rhetorical devices and other visual and verbal strategies are more frequently employed on the U.S. pages than on the U.K. and corporate sites. This implies that there are cultural differences in the way marketing communications are perceived by target audiences, and thus designed by marketers. It may be observed that while the American approach in general is a ‘hard sell’ one, that is more persuasive, the Western European approach (the U.K.’s. in particular) is rather characterized by ‘understatement’ and objectivity, that are associated with reliability, specifically when technical products or services are concerned. Hence whereas the discourse is rather neutral and ‘matter of fact’ on the corporate and U.K site, on the U.S. site, excitement is created by means of frequent use of various rhetorical devices. As we have seen, rhetorical devices are in evidence on the U.K. and corporate site, too, however, they are not as obvious as their use on the U.S. site. On the corporate and U.K. site rhetorical devices are not employed so explicitly as on the U.S. site, and thus the reader is not consciously aware of being manipulated. European readers, confronted with such rather obvious rhetorical devices, as employed on the U.S. site, would be rather mistrustful towards the product or service advertised. Thus similar rhetorical devices in Europe would probably work in the other direction, not persuading customers to purchase, but contributing towards a negative image. However, these cultural differences seem to be blurred a bit, since advertising in particular has been influenced to a large extent by the American approach, consequently a lot of aspects of daily life have been ‘Americanised’; this is what we earlier referred to as convergence of markets, target groups etc. Hence we may conclude that U.S. advertising discourse requires a heavy use of rhetorical devices to make messages as persuasive as possible.

7.2 Part II: Analysis of the online corporate advertising

In this section we will analyse T-Mobile’s corporate advertising that is not concerned with promoting any of its products or services but is intended to build the reputation and image of the corporation itself. The main function of corporate advertising is to promote a positive company image, which is a basic requirement for successfully marketing a company’s products or services. If people develop a positive image towards T-Mobile, they are more likely to respond in a positive way to the advertising of its products and services and buy them. As a result, sales and profits increase, which in turn allows the company to spend more on corporate advertising. Thus the corporate image greatly influences the buying decision.

Since the aim of corporate advertising is primarily to promote a positive image, the linguistic strategies employed in this section of the corpus are somewhat different from the ones in the previous section. The following analysis includes the same categories as the analysis above for reasons of comparability of the results of both sections. An overall pattern regarding corporate advertising that may be observed, is that the corporate site contains the most company information with 15 subpages, whereas the local sites contain less pages with the U.K. site including lots of hyperlinks to related topics and a separate FAQ page that addresses brand migration issues. Thus the U.K. corpus pages, overall, have a different character.

7.2.1 Discourse and layout features

Both the two local sites as well as the corporate site have a different (hypertext) structure and layout; thus we may conclude that for this part of the corpus there is a lack of consistency in communicating T-Mobile’s global marketing strategies. The headline

Here the headline has the main function to give an idea about the content of the message and again capture readers’ attention. In this part of the corpus the headlines are short and general summaries of what follows. Headlines are quite different on both local sites and the corporate site in terms of rhetorical devices employed and typography.

On the U.S. site all headlines and subheadlines have a matter-of-fact style and appeal to the ratio. For example none of them feature rhetorical devices that have an emotional appeal. As a result, they make the text appear factual and informative. Here, only using bold typeface letters and capital letters at the beginning of each word catches attention; moreover elliptic sentences make the headlines short, which saves reading time and looks more appealing. Examples of subheadings from the U.S. site include:

“T-Mobile USA”

(see Appendix B: 17)

“Company History”

(see Appendix B: 18)

In contrast, on the U.K. site, headlines are, for example, formulated as rhetorical questions; and thus have an emotional appeal, too. As far as typography is concerned, subheadlines are not only in bold typeface, but have a bigger type size, too. Examples, of subheadlines on the U.K. site include:

“What’s new with T-Mobile?”

“What changes you’ll see first”

“What you have”

(see Appendix B: 31)

On the corporate site, which gives the most extensive corporate information, rhetorical questions are not featured, but other rhetorical devices, such as alliteration and parallelism. Since the headlines here are longer than those on both the U.S. and U.K. sites they are often elliptic sentences with full stops at the end. Moreover, as far as typography27 and the use of colour is concerned, here, the headlines have a different, typeface, type size and colour than the body copy, thus making them stick out, and as a result making it easier for the reader to find the relevant paragraphs he is interested in. Examples of subheadlines on the corporate site include:

“Global communications.”

(see Appendix B: 1)

“Global player.”

(see Appendix B: 2)

“Global brand for global customers.”

(see Appendix B: 5) The body copy

The corpus pages of this section are all instances of longcopies, since they consist of more than five sentences and are visually structured by using different paragraphs or different sections with subheadlines. As outlined above these subheadlines allow the reader to quickly find the parts of a message that interest him.28 Thus he does not have to waste his time reading the rest of the message. Since their main function is to provide information about the company, they are rather informative than persuasive texts. Text-based rhetorical devices – brand name repetition

Here repetition of the company name “T-Mobile” may be considered an important feature due to the recent brand migration of local providers. Thus for corporate advertising it is extremely important at this stage that the name ‘T-Mobile’ is prominently featured (and thus repeated) whenever possible to enhance brand awareness and as a result promote a positive image, or rather avoid a negative image.29

However, as far as this section is concerned it is difficult to draw a conclusion about whether company name repetition was intentionally employed or is due to the natural redundancy of the text, since the object of the messages in this part of the corpus is the company itself. Thus, naturally the name ‘T-Mobile’ occurs quite often; no particular patterns could be found within the corpus pages analysed.

7.2.2 Stylistic features Precision

In this part of the corpus, too T-Mobile makes use of specific expressions associated with precision. Here, not only exact numbers, but also exact dates are used, which in general makes the message more vivid and contributes to clarity and credibility. Here too, a specific inter-site pattern can be observed. Whereas the U.S. site makes strong use of precision, on the corporate site precise expressions are used rather moderately; on the U.K. site there is almost no precision employed, since the information focus is a different one too, focusing more on practical issues related to the brand migration and providing little company information. Examples from the U.S. site include:

“VoiceStream and Powertel close their merger agreements with Deutsch Telekom on May 31, 2001 [...].”

(see Appendix B: 19)

“ VoiceStream Wireless adds over 600,000 customers in fourth quarter alone; ending the year with over 3.8 million customers and $ 1.9 billion in revenue.”

(see Appendix B: 19)

“VoiceStream Wireless grows rapidly - subscribers total 322,400 at year end and service revenue exceeds $ 125 millin for the year.”

(see Appendix B: 20)

The function of precision here is to create credibility and trustworthiness, that is particularly important for this section of the corpus, since it is aimed at establishing a positive company image and reassuring the audience of consumer benefits that the brand migration is to bring about. Tone

A positive tone is employed throughout this section of the corpus that helps to make a message sound more pleasing. There are different strategies used to create a positive tone, that mostly include lexical features and the use of certain semantic fields, such as in the following example taken from the U.K. site:

“This gives us the strength to develop exciting new services and accelerate our network investment.”

(see Appendix B: 31)

Here the semantics of the adjective exciting and the verb accelerate trigger connotations of a positive dynamic development; the verbal phrase to give strength has only positive connotations created in the reader. The following is a citation of Nikesh Arora, the CEO of T-Motion (an affiliate of T-Mobile):

“The dynamic nature of technology, and the speed of innovation, is constantly challenging us. These technologies must be made robust, and services must be shaped to the needs of the end consumer. We must learn to enjoy the benefits of these services, and over time rely on them as our means of entertainment, communication and information.”

(see Appendix B: 34)

This citation contains two semantic fields that the reader is supposed to associate with T-Mobile. One is that of ‘rapid technology innovation’; the words dynamic, technology, speed, innovation create this semantic field . Since this semantic field oftentimes has negative connotations triggered in certain consumers, who are afraid of change in general, this is neutralized in the second sentence with the adjective robust. The second semantic field concerns ‘customer benefits’ that is established by means of using the words services, needs, consumer, enjoy, benefits, entertainment, communication, information, that almost all have primarily positive connotations. This is a lexically and semantically highly dense statement that communicates all ideas to the readers that they ought to associate with T-Mobile.

A negative tone is employed only to de-emphasize negative ideas, such as in this example from the U.K. site:

“There is no evidence that mobile phones and base stations present a threat to human health.”

(see Appendix B: 32)

Here the negation no is used to point to the inexistence of a health problem that is commonly associated with mobile phones.

On the corporate site there are instances that may be associated with the creation of a positive tone, which are more emotionally appealing, such as:

“Supported by innovative technology standards, mobile phones are developing into multimedia terminals that will make our lives easier and more fun to manage.”

(see Appendix B: 1)

Here, too the semantic field of ‘rapid technology innovation’ is used, since, however, technology often has negative connotations for certain persons, the next part of the sentence appeals to readers’ emotions by stating that this technology will make our lives easier and more fun to manage.

Although the U.S. pages incorporate a positive tone, too, the texts have a predominantly ‘matter of fact’, formal style that appeals to the ratio rather than emotions. Interestingly, despite its objective tone there is one instance of humour in a subheader on the U.S. site:

Look Ma, no hands !” Safe Driving”

(see Appendix B:27)

This is a reference to a well-known joke where a boy shows his mum how he can drive his bike first without hands, and finally without teeth. This instance of humour appears on the “Safety Information” page and is used to tone down the serious attitude of the message, that is concerned with safe driving.

In contrast, the U.K. site has a very informal style on all linguistic levels, lexis, syntax, and discourse. The corporate site is very informative, therefore has elements of a formal style, however features many rhetorical devices that make the message more appealing.

7.2.3 Lexico-syntactic features Compounds

Compounds are employed in this section of the corpus, too, performing most of the informative function, and contributing to clarity and brevity of messages, as outlined above. Almost all compounds found here are noun compounds; there are just very few cases were adjectives, adverbs or verbs constitute a compound element. Compounds in this section consist of two up to four compound elements. Here are some examples of compounds: mobile communications services, transatlantic mobile communications services, mobile phone, voice services, text message, multimedia terminals, market position, license area, digital wireless standard, contract subscriber, customer billing platform, GSM network, General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), Virtual Private Network (VPN), international roaming agreement, phone upgrade, text pack, Pocket Phone Shop, Advantage T-Mobile, mobility lifestyle service, enabling function etc. Some of these compounds are commonly used (e.g. mobile phone), others were created to denote a particular new technology and are predominantly used as acronyms (GPRS, GSM, UMTS) for ease of reference in particularly oral communication. Overall, however, all of these compounds are specific to the telecommunications branch that is characterized by the use of technical jargon. While these compounds have been created for ease of reference, they too are aimed at creating a sense of excitement and communicating the notion to customers that this is a very innovative field. Some of the compounds are company-specific word creations, such as Advantage T-Mobile or Pocket Phone Shop. Here the rhetorical device of company/brand name repetition is in evidence, too. Pronouns

There is a relatively high amount of the first person pronouns ‘we’ and ‘our’ in this section of the corpus, thus the ‘we-attitude’ is dominant. Two different kinds of the first person pronoun can be differentiated: the exclusive ‘we’ (speaker plus other(s), excluding addressee) and the inclusive ‘we’ (addressee included) (Yule, 1996: 11). In the corpus only the exclusive ‘we’ is used, which may be considered typical of corporate advertising. Since the function of the pages in question here is not direct address and involvement of the reader, but image-building, the we-attitude is dominant here. In contrast to the pervious section, where the we-attitude would give the impression of a company that is self-centred, here it serves to put the company at the centre of attention, and to convey a certain ‘team-spirit’ or to communicate its Corporate Identity, such as in:

“Together, we will develop and market products on a global basis”

(see Appendix B: 1)

On the corporate site the personal pronoun ‘we’ is also used strategically in the sense of a unique selling proposition:

“Yet we know that this is just the beginning of an exciting global development in which powerful new mobile communications services and devices will play a decisive role.”

(see Appendix B: 1)

By using we as a nominative here it is suggested that the company has superior knowledge, a knowledge that will be decisive (although this adjective refers to the subject in the dependent clause), and is thus very useful for readers that like to think of themselves as being successful in the future (and who does not like to think that?).

In other instances an impersonal viewpoint is employed. Instead of using the first person plural pronouns the discourse features the corporate name T-Mobile and the possessive pronoun ‘its’. This approach is predominantly used on the U.S. site, such as in:

“Based in Bellevue, WA, T-Mobile USA is one of the fastest growing wireless service providers in the country, serving over 8 million customers.”

(see Appendix B: 17)

Since the U.S. site generally has a ‘matter of fact’ style and heavily employs precision, the impersonal approach is used to make the message appear objective and thus increases credibility. The third person viewpoint makes the message impersonal, neutral and unbiased; therefore the message appears trustworthier. However, occasionally the U.S. site incorporates first person personal pronouns, too, such as in the headlines:

“About our company”

(see Appendix B:17)

“About our technology”

(see Appendix B: 24)

Here the first person possessive pronoun our is used to convey to viewers the corporate team spirit, while in the body copy mostly the indirect style is used that implies bias-free information.

On the U.K site both the ‘you-attitude’ and the ‘we-attitude’ are employed. The you-attitude appears in the FAQs, that are either phrased in the second person or from the (first person) point of view of the reader, such as in:

“What you have”

“What changes you ’ll see first”

(see Appendix B: 31)

“Will my bills change?”

What differences will T-Mobile make to me as a customer?”

(see Appendix B: 29)

I ’m a One 2 One customer, I ’m not sure how I feel about this?”

(see Appendix B: 30)

This ‘you-‘ and ‘me-attitude’, and the way of structuring the message in the form of questions is a commonly used rhetorical device in online discourse. This can be very effective in involving the reader, heightening interest, and increasing the vividness of a message. The ‘we-attitude’ in contrast is dominant on the “Mobile Safety” page:”

We financially support […] We have established […] We will continue […]

(see Appendix B: 32)

Here the first person personal pronoun we is repeatedly used to support the public relations function of the corporate advertising section on the U.K. site. In the following example from the U.K. site the first and second person pronouns are combined, thus creating an emotional appeal, in order to convey to viewers the company’s customer orientation:

Our specially trained advisors will answer questions on all aspects of your mobile communications.”

(see Appendix B: 33)

To summarize, the local and corporate sites employ different viewpoints in this part of corpus. While the U.S. site uses mostly an impersonal viewpoint, the U.K. site relies heavily on the ‘you-attitude’ and first person perspective from the point of view of the reader. On the corporate sit there is a combination of the ‘we-attitude’ and the third person viewpoint in order to establish Corporate Identity and integrate some unbiased elements in the message. In general a combination of different viewpoints is preferred here to avoid an ‘overuse’ of a certain viewpoint and make the message more diverse and effective. Verbs

The most frequently employed verbs in this part of the corpus (apart from ‘be’ and ‘have’ used as full verbs) include: develop, operate, merge, launch, use/utilize, expand, account for, evolve, establish, create, offer, provide, and focus. The verbs have general meanings and can be used in a variety of contexts. Active and passive

In this part of the corpus, too we can expect a more frequent use of the active voice. It contributes to clarity and vividness, and is more emphatic than the passive voice. In general, as we have observed above, the active voice is used to communicate and emphasise positive ideas, while the passive voice is used to de-emphasise negative concepts. The following enumeration of facts, stated on the U.S. site is phrased in the active voice:

“Voice Stream officially becomes T-Mobile; debuts the global brand with launch of service in California and Nevada.”

“Voice Stream launches iStream [...] to customers nationwide.

VoiceStream Wireless and Omnipoint Corporation complete merger on February 25, 2000.”

(see Appendix B: 19)

Here we can see how the active voice helps to make the message more vivid, and thus more interesting. Moreover, it makes the message clear. The fact that all these statements are in the present tense contributes even more to these effects. Since the active voice emphasizes the ‘doer’ of action the corporate names of Voice Stream and T-Mobile are put at the centre of attention, which contributes to a positive image. Therefore the active voice lends itself to corporate advertising that is focused on image-building. Thus very few examples of the passive voice could be found in the corpus pages of this section. Modal verbs

Here modal verbs are not used to indirectly provoke action but serve to create a certain atmosphere of exuberance that the reader is supposed to associate with the merger, thus creating a positive attitude towards the company. The modal verb that is employed most frequently in the corpus pages is ‘will’, that appears in structures such as:

“T-Mobile will focus on subscriber value [...] it will develop and market products on a global basis”

(see Appendix B: 6)

“And in the future T-Mobile will expand its product portfolio quite more.”

(see Appendix B: 10)

“Employees will be able to access the latest corporate data while travelling”

(see Appendix B: 12)

Here, the modal verb will, that is predominantly used as a tense marker, belongs to the same semantic field as nouns frequently occurring in the text, such as “future” and “innovation”, thus functioning as a promise to customers what efforts the company will undertake in the future to satisfy its customers. Hence, will carries a semantic quality of a promise, which underscores this effect.

On the U.K. site the modal verb will is used to tell customers what they have to expect during the re-branding process. Examples include:

“After May 19 your bill will look very different”

“Direct Debit statements will change to ‘T-Mobile’.”

(see Appendix B: 31)

“T-Mobile will continue to offer the service and value that One 2 One customers expect.”

(see Appendix B: 29)

Here will ’s semantic qualities of certainty and thus reassurance serve to take away customers’ fear regarding the merger and brand migration. Sentence length

Although the average sentence length is not significantly higher than in the promotional section, there are many more long sentences of up to 40 words or even more in this part of the corpus. Especially the U.S. site has a high average sentence length. Since long sentences doubtlessly contain more information than short ones, this part of the corpus may be considered more informative. The U.S. site is the most informative featuring many dates, names and numbers, which gives the impression of bias-free information. However, on all sites there is a variety of sentence lengths, which is supposed to make the message more interesting. On page one for example of the corporate site, there is sentence which consists of 7 words, which is followed by one that contains 26 words:

“The world of mobile communications is changing. Today, nearly one billion people throughout the world use mobile phones, not only for voice services, but also for sending text messages and accessing the Internet.”

(see Appendix B: 1) Sentence structure

In general, there is a tendency towards compound and complex sentences in this part of the corpus. Compound sentences are generally easier to understand than complex sentences, and thus they are employed more frequently. If the sentence structure was too complex and thus difficult to understand, readers may not have the patience to read the whole message. Here is an example from the U.S. site:

“The larger number of vendors […] offers competitive, economical ways to keep costs down and gives consumers more choices.”

(see Appendix B: 24)

This sentence is a compound sentence consisting of two independent clauses linked by the conjunction and, that can be easily understood and focuses the reader’s attention on the important details.

Since this section contains more information and is semantically denser it is sometimes necessary to construct complex sentences to convey the message. Here is an example taken from the corporate site:

“In the mobile communications market, which has developed into a global market in the past ten years, T-Mobile International already belongs to the top three largest international Players.”

(see Appendix B: 6)

This is a complex sentence containing an embedded relative clause. Overall, even the complex sentences are not too difficult to understand and contribute to creating credibility and a professional image in the minds of readers. Word-based rhetorical devices Comparative

The ‚Get More’ proposition continues in this section of the corpus. Although this section is not concerned with selling a specific product, in corporate advertising companies generally thrive to position themselves in the minds of consumers with a particular value proposition – U.S.P. - that, too differentiates them from competitors.

Depending on the product or company advertised, more is often featured in slogans, such as the T-Mobile slogan “Get more”, that specifies comparison with competitors carrying the message of ‘more value than competitors’, and thus positions the company. This slogan is also interrelated with T-Mobile’s branding, that ought to communicate the total product concept that goes beyond the core benefit of mobile communications of being able to communicate without being bound to a physical location. Thus in the U.S. this slogan was modified to have an emotional appeal:

“Get more from life”.

(see Appendix B: 16)

The marketers here suggest to the audience that mobile communications services are able to make their lives easier; that since these services potentially take away a lot of burdens from daily life, customers can even lead a better life. The expression more is open to interpretation; readers can put in their own personal interpretation (e.g. get more excitement, get more peace etc.). ‘ Get more’, in fact, is T-Mobile’s foremost value proposition (or U.S.P.) and more occurs together with words, such as: features, value, service, control, flexibility, communication, information, action or ‘ than from any other provider’. People generally want more and the frequent use of the comparative more that reoccurs in various places, is supposed to convey to the audience that T-Mobile is the provider that offers the most services. For instance, on the corporate site, the word more appears as a link underneath every topic in the “news” banner on the right hand side of every web page, as a short form of the expression ‘find out more’, such as in:

“Autograph session in Seattle more “

(see Appendix B: 1)

Other examples of the use of comparatives is the expression more than, such as in:

“Together, T-Mobile and Deutsch Telekom have the potential to reach a population of more than 500 million people in their global license areas.”

(see Appendix B. 1)

This frequent re-occurrence of the comparative more is aimed at increasing brand image and awareness. Other comparatives employed, such as easier, as in

“[…] mobile phones are developing into multimedia terminals that will make our lives easier and more fun to manage.”

(see Appendix B: 1)

are classic examples of a comparison with a previous state. More is again featured in this structure to enhance brand awareness. Since branding creates image, the ‘Get more’ phrase that is supposed to position the T-Mobile brand is quite prominently featured on all sites in this part of the corpus. Superlative

Furthermore superlatives, such as largest, biggest, and most are employed frequently on the corporate and U.K. site, such as in:

“One 2 One is now T-Mobile, one of the largest mobile companies in the world.”

(see Appendix B: 31)

“The parent company of T-Mobile International, Deutsche Telekom AG, is one of the biggest telecommunication companies in Europe.“

(see Appendix B: 15)

“[…] T-Mobile concentrates on the most dynamic markets in Europe and the United States.”

(see Appendix B: 2)

“In particular the group has provided great support for football – the most popular team sport in the world.”

(see Appendix B. 9)

However, on the U.S. site too, superlatives are used to create an atmosphere of exuberance, such as in:

“Based in Bellevue, WA, T-Mobile USA is one of the fastest growing wireless service providers in the country, serving over 8 million customers.”

(see Appendix B: 17)

The most direct way to build image and communicate to readers that T-Mobile is outstanding is to use the expression the world’s + superlative:

“And all that over a common technology platform based on GSM, the world’s most successful digital wireless standard.”

(see Appendix B: 2)

This accumulation of superlatives creates an atmosphere of excitement, and makes T-Mobile appear the N-° 1 telecommunications company, that also strives to provide as many benefits as possible to customers. Deconcretisation

The results of the corpus analysis regarding the use of deconcretisation is in line with Baumgart’s observation that this is one of the most popular rhetorical devices (1992: 208). Deconcretising strategies may take on a variety of forms, and usually serve to convey the emotional side benefits of a product, that advertising focuses on (Baumgart, 1992: 209).

Deconcretising expressions found on the corporate site include ‘exciting global development’, ‘will play a decisive role’, ‘ powerful new mobile communications services’, ‘ dynamic markets’, ‘ strong position in core European markets’, ‘ unique range of products and services’, ‘recorded a positive trend’, or ‘ potential to reach a population of [..]500 million people’. As we can see, when analysing deconcretisation the semantic context (and surrounding lexis) have to be taken into account. All these adjectives and the noun potential in the last example are emotive generalizations of cognates, that do not make any concrete suggestions about the ideas put forward. For example the expression a unique range of products and services tells the readers nothing about the actual properties and quality of the products or services concerned. However, the subtle hint that the range is distinctive is sufficient to project an image of excellence in the readers’ minds and thus enhance the company’s image. Likewise the structure found on the U.K. site,

“This gives us the strength to develop exciting new services […].”

(see Appendix B: 31)

underscores the emotional qualities of T-Mobile’s (future) products without stating in any concrete way what factual qualities they will have, thus creating an atmosphere of exuberance and enhancing the company’s image. Sentence-based rhetorical devices Hyperbole

As outlined above, hyperbole may take on a variety of forms. In general the rhetorical device of hyperbole refers to exaggerative expressions that have the main function to create an atmosphere of excitement or satisfaction etc. Hyperbolic expressions in this section of the corpus include great, truly, leading, nearly, new, and unique.

The most frequently employed hyperbolic expressions are leading, new and truly. The corporate site frequently uses the expression leading, such as in:

“Our goal as a leading mobile communications company is to be among the three top global players”.

(see Appendix B: 1)

Here, the use of leading is aimed at emphasizing the fact that T-Mobile is among the companies with the highest market share (from an international point of view). However, leading is associated with being the first and thus this word makes T-Mobile stand out against its competitors. Readers are supposed to get the impression that T-mobile is ‘the’ leading company in the telecommunications industry. Similarly, in

“[...] then T-Mobile will be a truly global brand.”

(see Appendix B: 7)

the adverb truly is used to stress the adjective global, thus emphasizing the message put forward to viewers. The word creation Powerhouse (see Appendix B: 11), that is used to refer to the company on the corporate site, may be considered an example of a hyperbole, too, since it is very exaggerative. Here are another two instances of hyperbolic expressions taken from the corporate site:

“Deutsche Telekom recognized the enormous significance and potential of the area much earlier than its competitors [...].”

“This provides T-Mobile with excellent prospects for growth in both the consumer and business segments in the United States”.

(see Appendix B: 4)

Here the adjectives enormous and excellent are exaggerative expressions that serve to create an atmosphere of exuberance. Here,

“In London, Ron Sommer, [...] pointed out the extremely good positioning of T-Mobile International, saying that ‘Deutsche Telekom’s international expansion is clearly powered by T-Mobile’”.

(see Appendix B: 7)

the adverb extremely is used to strengthen the adjective good. Moreover the verb to power may be considered a hyperbolic expression.

Since the U.S. site has a rather ‘matter of fact’ style less hyperbolic expressions are used. However, hyperbolic expressions are used in the news release that can be found under the topic link “Meet Catherine Zeta-Jones”.

“As the only true, global wireless service provider, T-Mobile is uniquely positioned […]

This page is made to appear like a newspaper article, which gives the impression of bias-free information. Thus the use of hyperbolic expressions, such as only true and uniquely, is not so obvious in this news release as it would be on the other U.S. corpus pages, which have a rather objective style. Ellipsis

In this section of the corpus ellipsis was found mostly in headlines, such as in:

“Company Growth, Led by Industry Veteran, John Stanton”

(see Appendix B: 18)

“Building a global footprint”

(see Appendix B: 5)

“Focus on customer value.”

(see Appendix B: 3)

„Features unique to GSM“

(see Appendix B: 24)

Since the function of headlines is to catch readers’ attention quickly and make them want to read the message they contain mostly content words, while functions words that carry little meaning are ellipted. Therefore nouns, which are the semantically densest lexical category, are dominant in the headlines. The body copies on all sites do not contain elliptic sentences, as they imply informality, while complete sentences suggest formality and seriousness, which enhances T-Mobile’s image of professionalism. Repetition Doubling

As outlined above doubling refers to the repetition of brand names or key words for purposes of enhancing brand awareness or message recall. In the following example found on the corporate site doubling is used to convey the ‘get more’ value proposition to readers:

“Everywhere customers will know what they can expect form T-Mobile. ‘Get more’more features, more value, more service. More than from any other provider!”

(see Appendix B: 6)

By means of exposing the readers repeatedly to the key word more, they are supposed to understand what this value proposition means, and file it away in memory. The next is an example from the U.S. site:

“Deutsche Telekom’s subsidiaries and affiliated companies [...] offer service on both sides of the Atlantic with a single global brand name and a single digital technology standard GSM.”

(see Appendix B: 17)

Here, the repetition of the adjective single serves to underscore the consistency in T-Mobile’s operations that is supposed to be a competitive advantage in this market. Parallelism

Parallel structures are employed frequently in the corpus for different purposes, such as to catch the reader’s attention, to emphasize content, or to make the reader memorize the message better. Examples of headlines that feature a parallel design include:

“Global brand for global customers.”

(see Appendix B: 5)

This sentence, apart from employing ellipsis and doubling, has a parallel structure; a noun is preceded by an adjective as a pre-modifier. This serves to catch readers’ attention and in general is appealing because of its rhythmic pattern.

On the U.K. site parallelism occurs in the form of tabulation: The following examples of parallel sentences can be found beneath the heading “What changes you’ll see first”:

“Direct Debit statements will change to ‘T-Mobile’

Your next bill will be white instead of blue.”

(see Appendix B: 31)

Here the parallel structure of sentences is aimed at taking away customers’ fears in connection with the re-branding process, implying simplicity. Sequence

In the following example a sequence of three nouns is employed to make the message appear unified.

“And this name will stand for reliability, attractiveness and innovation leadership”

(see Appendix B: 5)

Here it is directly stated what readers ought to associate with the name T-Mobile; through the use of a three-part sequence in particular the argument put forward appears unified and is memorable. Likewise on the U.S. site such three-part sequences are used for the same purpose, as in:

“T-Mobile® Wireless ‘Smart Card’: privacy, security, and convenience”

(see Appendix B: 24)

Examples of alliteration, that is a form of sequence, found on the corporate site are mostly featured in sub-headlines, such as:

B road Customer B ase.”

(see Appendix B: 3)

M ore than m obile communications.”

(see Appendix B: 10)

Here two words in the structure are alliterated at the beginning of every word with a ‘b`- and ‘m’-sound respectively. Since the function of headlines is to attract readers’ attention and make them interested in reading the whole message, alliteration is frequently employed in the sub-headlines of the corporate site. Examples of alliteration found in the body copy include:

“The company delivers r elevant, r eliable, and easy to use services […].”

(see Appendix B: 11)

“The company is developing into a M obile M ultimedia Powerhouse”.

(see Appendix B: 11)

Interestingly the rhetorical device of alliteration is quite frequently employed on the U.S. site despite its factual, rather unemotional style, such as ‘ m ore mi nutes’, ‘ c hallenge and c hange’, ‘ p ersonal p ortal’, ‘ t wo-way t ext messaging’, ‘ s eamless s ervice’ or ‘ T ext T elephone Device’. This is probably due to the fact that alliteration is a rhetorical device that is more attention-grabbing than emotionally appealing, and too facilitates readers’ recall of the information input. Commands

As discussed earlier on, the rhetorical device of commands is realized through the imperative, that is a form of directive language and serves to directly call upon readers to act. Commands were employed in the promotional section since there the aim was to make readers buy a service or make them obtain more information by mouse clicking on another link. Here, however, the aim is not so much to make readers act but to make them develop a positive attitude towards the company in general. Thus the language in this section is more descriptive than directive featuring few imperatives. Apart from the slogan ‘Get more’ that is a command and featured prominently on all sites, imperatives were found mainly on the corporate site, such as the one appearing in the “news” banner at the right hand side of the corporate pages:

“To receive the latest news regularly by e-mail, please subscribe to the T-Mobile mail service. more”

(see Appendix B: 1)

Here, readers are invited to obtain more information about the company by subscribing to the company newsletter, which can be done by mouse clicking on the below more link and filling out an online subscription form. This procedure demonstrates convenience, which in turn results in readers developing a positive attitude towards the company.

Watch our video and find out more about the fascination of T-Mobile”

(see Appendix B: 8)

Follow the link and you can virtually compete our penality shootout game.“

(see Appendix B: 9)

Watch in quick-motion how a brand-new T-Mobile store is built in the centre of London.“

(see Appendix B: 8)

These are examples from the corporate site that invite viewers to visit a particular site by means of the imperative, that here conveys a notion of convenience. Likewise on the U.S. site commands are employed to invite readers to obtain more information, such as in:

“For more information about T-Mobile International, please visit”

(see Appendix B: 23)

„For more information on GSM and international roaming please check out WorldClass roaming.”

(see Appendix B: 24)

Similarily on the U.K. site under the topic link “Contanct us” there is an instance of commands that are employed to make readers obtain more information:

Get answers to all your queries and questions about T-Mobile by email or the phone – call 150 (free from your mobile) or 0845 412 5000 (charged at local toll rates).”

(see Appendix B: 33)

On the U.S. site on the page titled „Safety information“ safety tips are given to readers in the form of commands:

- “Use a hands-free device […]

- Know your phone […]

- Always position your phone […]

- Dial sensibly and assess the traffic

- Let the person you are speaking with know […]

- Do not engage in […]”

(see Appendix B: 27)

Here an informative strategy is employed that relies on the use of commands, which is aimed at indirectly building corporate image. Direct Address

While no instances of direct address could be found on the corporate site, this rhetorical device is employed on the U.S. and frequently on the U.K. site, such as in:

“What changes you ’ll see first”

“What you have”

(see Appendix B: 31)

These are examples of headlines that are aimed at motivating viewers to read the message and establish a direct link between the brand migration and how it will affect existing customers, thus taking away their potential fears. Other examples of direct address on the U.K. site include:

Your safety is our first priority, so we will keep you informed of the latest developments openly and honestly.”

(see Appendix B: 32)

Here direct address is combined with the use of the first person personal pronouns we and our to promote human relations and underscore T-Mobile’s customer orientation.

On the U.S. site an instance of direct address appears on the first page of the “Company info” topic link:

“T-Mobile US has you covered whether you stay in one region or […]”

(see Appendix B: 16)

Other instances of direct address on the U.S. site include:

“It’s a card […], which you can easily insert into the phone or transfer into other phones, retaining your phonebook, and personalized service information.”

(see Appendix B: 25)

“The hands-free device helps you keep both hands on the wheel and attention on the road while driving.“

(see Appendix B: 27)

Here direct address is used to convey to readers that the message is specifically for them.

Although the U.S. site has generally a rather matter-of-fact style relying on the informative strategy the first sentence introducing the corporate advertising tries to establish a relationship with the viewer by incorporating direct address, and thus motivating readers to read on. The fact that on the corporate site almost no direct address is employed may be attributed to cultural differences: while North Americans and also increasingly the English favour an informal style, Germans prefer a more formal style. Understatements

Since the corporate advertising section does not contain any messages related to pricing few instances of understatements could be found. However, understatements are used from time to time on the corporate site to underscore T-Mobile’s competitive advantages, such as in:

“In the long run, only a small group of service providers will establish their brand [...].”

(see Appendix B:7)

Here the adjective only is used to convey to viewers that the company belongs to a small and thus exclusive group. Here,

“T-Mobile no longer just provides the network platform for the transmission of content services. It also handles [...]”

(see Appendix B: 11)

Here the use of the adjective just implies that T-Mobile offers more than the standard services provided by competitors. Antithesis

Since antithesis is quite an overt rhetorical device few instances can be found in the corpus pages. Given that advertisers use this form because it is easily perceived and memorable, on the corpus site antithesis is used in sub-headlines that have the function to capture attention and even emotions, such as in:

“A single brand for all.”

(see Appendix B: 6)

Here, the adjectives single and all are antonyms of each other, and are thus an instance of antithesis, that serves to attract attention and promote the positive benefits of the brand migration. Two-part figure

The same structure of the two-part figures, as described in the product advertising section, appears in this part of the corpus as well. The structure of the T-Mobile logo with the slogan ‘Get more [..]’ appearing above the picture banner at the top of the corpus pages is particular relevant for this section since it is aimed at enhancing brand awareness.

7.2.4 Visual aids Typography

Typography is used for visually marking and emphasising structural elements within the discourse. A typographical device employed frequently on the corporate site is the use of capital letters in headlines. Their function is to capture attention or emphasise important messages.

On the corporate site capital letters are used mainly for the main headlines (topic links) in the banner at the left hand side of each page (“Global Player”, “Global Footprint”, “Brand Migration” etc.). On the U.S. site capital letters are used in subheaders such as in:

“Technology and Services”

(see Appendix B: 21)

Here, the initial letters of the informative words are capitalized. Thus headlines/topic links, which are supposed to attract readers’ attention get emphasis and are recognized as headlines. The conjunction and is not a content word and is thus not capitalized. Interestingly on the U.S. site, the phrase ‘GET MORE’ is almost always written in capital letters, to make it stick out of the body copy and give special emphasis to it.

Moreover, type size and typeface are used to visually mark the layout of the messages. On all sites letters making up the headlines are larger in type size than the body copy and have a bold typeface. Furthermore on the corporate site the letters of the subheadlines have a magenta colour. As far as colour is concerned, hyperlinks, too, are visually marked by magenta letters, that are underlined. On the one hand the magenta colour makes the hyperlinks stick out, on the other hand the consistent use of the typical T-Mobile colour reflects its Corporate Identity. Image and text

In contrast to the promotional section, here only on the corporate site images are used to communicate. On the U.K. and U.S. site there are no pictures on the corpus pages (apart from those in the top banner and one showing the U.S. company permises). Thus the following analysis of these pictures applies to the corporate site only. Here again, verbal messages are dominant in terms of space used; the pictures are placed in the upper left quadrant, and thus are viewed first by readers.30 Pictures function as signs and serve to support or emphasize the content of the verbal message. There are altogether approx. 20 pictures in the corpus, ranging from one to three pictures on a page. Here, in contrast to the promotional section the majority of pictures have a strong emotional appeal. Thus the relationships between the signs and their objects vary.

The picture on the page titled “Mobile Business Solutions” shows a mobile phone; thus we may consider this relation an iconic one, as it rests on some kind of similarity between the sign (the picture of the phone) and its object (the verbal message about products for business customers). The page containing information about the parent company Deutsche Telekom contains pictures of the company premises with the logo prominently displayed. Although in the previous section we identified the relationship between a logo as the signifier and the object as the signified as a symbolic one, here the relationship may be more iconic than symbolic, since the pictures show the company premises. The prominent featuring of the logo serves to enhance brand awareness.

As mentioned already the rest of the pictures have a predominantly emotional appeal showing pictures of daily life (mostly in business, but also in home, and leisure environments). Many advertising campaign rely on emotions created by visual stimuli to change attitudes. Similarly, the corporate advertising here relies on emotions to create a positive company image. Most of the pictures are fuzzy, conveying an image of the speed of life. Moreover on the corporate site there is a picture of the management team that serves to promote human relations and creates credibility and trustworthiness on the part of the viewers, who can more easily identify with people than with abstract institutions such as a company or corporation.

To summarize, while some pictures appeal to the ratio, the majority appeals to emotions, and thus compensates for the rational information in the body copy, but also ties in with the verbal message on each respective page. Overall, the pictures have an image-building function in common. Other visual aids

There is only one instance in the corpus where other visual aids are used, that we have grouped into tables, figures and diagrams. On the corporate site there is diagram that shows a timeline, which gives the most important steps (“corporate milestones”) in the rebranding process (see Appendix B: 14).

7.2.5 Summary of findings

To summarize this section we may conclude that all sites rely predominantly on an image-building strategy, that is supplemented by an informative strategy. Overall, in this part of the corpus, the corporate site employs rhetorical devices and other verbal and visual strategies aimed at achieving the image-building objective more frequently than both the U.S. and the U.K. site. The you-attitude is very prominently featured on the U.K. site, but this may be due to the fact that part of the U.K. corpus is made up of FAQs. While there are subtle differences in the way and the extent to which certain strategies and devices are employed, the corporate advertising may be considered as being mostly standardized across national borders. This is particularly evident through the slogan “Get more”, that is prominently featured on all sites.

Through this slogan bypassing an international audience is avoided, because the words “get” and “more” have the same meaning and connotations to people from a variety of different cultural backgrounds. Moreover the slogan “Get more” provides customers with perceived added value, in the tangible elements of the products/services offered, but also in the intangible elements of the product/service offer, such as the U.S. slogan “Get more from life” proposes.

8. Summary and conclusion

In the first section of the present study we have provided the marketing management background for an analysis of the linguistic implementation of T-Mobile’s marketing communications strategy. In line with Cook’s observation, that any discourse analysis has to take account of both language and context, we have also considered the nature and role of international marketing communications more broadly, by focusing upon both internal and external communications and a wider range of communications tools. We have outlined that marketing communications are becoming increasingly important in providing the means of differentiating firms and their products and services from those of their competitors. Equally, however, communications are extremely sensitive to cultural variation and without attention to detail, they can be the source of many problems for firms offering their products throughout the world. This is especially the case when a standardized approach to international marketing communications is taken. The application of the theoretical insights gained in this section to T-Mobile’s marketing communication situation suggests that a standardization is viable if the considerations outlined are taken into account and that in general an ‘open strategy’ approach should be taken in order to adapt to specific cultural requirements when necessary. In chapter three the traditional theory of communication was briefly outlined and in the next section applied to the marketing communications situation from a linguistic point of view. In chapter five we have outlined the significance of the Internet as a new marketing communications channel drawing on the key principles of online marketing that indicate its opportunities and benefit potentials.

The analysis of T-Mobile’s international online marketing communications strategies was based on two dimensions: the communicative goals of the sections analysed, and the use of visual and verbal strategies (including rhetorical and other linguistic devices) in these two sections as implemented on the corporate, U.S. and U.K. site.

With regard to the first dimension the analysis has shown that the two sections “WorldClass” and “About T-Mobile” have different communicative goals. While the product advertising section is concerned with selling the WorldClass product on the U.K. and U.S. site, and thus has the goal to persuade readers to subscribe to the service, on the corporate site it is concerned with informing about the product on a general basis, thus has the goal to build corporate image. The corporate advertising section is concerned with informing readers about the company in general, and specifically about the brand migration on all sites. However, whereas on the corporate and U.S. site this section has the goal to promote a positive image, on the U.K. site this section contains very little company information and has primarily the goal to inform existing customers about the re-branding process, trying to take away common fears and thus preventing customer migration towards competitors. So it may be said that the English online corporate advertising only indirectly aims at building corporate image relying on new linguistic forms of online discourse related to marketing, such as FAQs.

Concerning the second dimension, the overall findings indicate that rhetorical devices and other linguistic strategies in the product advertising section concerned with product advertising are used to a far greater extent on the U.S. site than on the corporate and U.K. site. Internet promotional texts generally appear to be not so dense in their use of rhetorical devices than conventional media, such as magazine or television advertisements. However, the findings seem to confirm that there is a difference in the online use of rhetorical devices in the U.S. and Europe. On the European (and this includes the corporate site) sites rhetorical devices are far less in evidence as far as the product advertising section is concerned. This may point towards a different usage of the Internet in marketing communications in Europe and the U.S. Whereas in Europe the Internet is still predominantly used for providing product information, in the U.S., that has the biggest e-commerce share31, the Internet is used as a distribution channel; therefore the U.S. discourse incorporates ‘hard sell’ strategies. Thus the findings relating to the first section seem to support the thesis that the U.S. approach in online marketing communications is generally more persuasive. The corporate and U.K. site make use of visual and verbal strategies, that are not openly persuasive, but rather informative and image-building. However, the ultimate goal of these strategies, too is to persuade potential customers to subscribe to their service. Yet, the U.S. site may be considered the most effective in pursuing its goal of selling. Typical visual and verbal strategies employed are a clear layout, the great use of precise facts and figures, a positive tone, a frequent use of compounds, the preference of the you-attitude, the use of verbs with general meanings, the preference for active verbs, the frequent use of imperatives and modal verbs, relatively short sentences, a simple sentence structure, occasional use of rhetorical devices, typographical emphasis and the use of pictures and other visual aids.

The analysis of the second section of the corpus concerned with corporate advertising supports this thesis, but we have gained other important insights here too. The fact that the use of rhetorical devices was rather weak on the U.S. site for this part of the corpus, and very strong for the first part of the corpus, supports the theory outlined in chapter four that product advertising relies more on persuasive strategies and thus the use of rhetorical devices whereas corporate advertising primarily relies on image-building and informative strategies, that make use of different linguistic devices. The findings of this section reveal that the corporate site employs rhetorical devices quite frequently, thus being openly image-building, while the U.S. site has a rather ‘matter of fact’, unemotional style, therefore relying more on informative than image-building strategies. However, the ultimate goal of informative strategies here, too, is to build a positive corporate image. Furthermore the U.S. site displays the most formal use of language, while the U.K. site linguistically is the most informal. The corporate site has a rather formal style, too, that is, however, balanced through the use of various rhetorical devices. Thus the corporate site may be considered the most effective in its goal of creating a positive corporate image. Characteristic visual and verbal strategies are a clear layout, the occasional use of precise facts and figures, a positive tone, the significant use of compounds, a balanced use of the we-attitude and impersonal expressions, the use of verbs that carry general meanings, few passive verbs, few imperatives, many long sentences, a simple sentence structure, an effective use of rhetorical devices, typographical emphasis, and the use of pictures that are emotionally appealing.

The rhetorical devices and linguistic features used in both sections and on all sites contribute to reader-friendliness, comprehensiveness, credibility, trustworthiness, recall or just attractiveness of the message. Since the basic and overall goals of the sections are different and there are cultural differences, too, linguistic strategies somewhat differ according to both section and site analysed. Obviously there are differences in the visual and verbal strategies regarding both the two sections and the three sites. The corporate, U.S. and U.K. site differ from each other both in terms of their use of strategies to attain the communicative goal of each section and in terms of their employment of rhetorical devices and other verbal and visual strategies. As regards product advertising the U.S. site is more persuasive and employs rhetorical devices more frequently than both the U.K. and corporate site. As regards corporate advertising the corporate site employs rhetorical devices most frequently and relies more on the image-building strategy than both the U.S. and U.K. site that make more use of the informative strategy, that is only indirectly aimed at building corporate image. In general both sections and all sites have quite a different character, not only regarding their functions, but also the verbal and visual strategies employed. Consequently it can be maintained that linguistic strategies are intentionally employed to put across the respective messages.

From the analysis of the Internet as an advertising medium, we may draw the conclusion that while visual strategies lend themselves to standardization, when planned accordingly, verbal strategies should be rather adapted paying tribute to the subtle language and context differences when communicating across borders. The findings of this study thus support the ‘open strategy’ approach. Since the length of this thesis does not allow an analysis of other media used in T-Mobile’s marketing communications, further aspects regarding standardization vs. adaptation and their relation to verbal and visual strategies employed in traditional marketing communication media, could not be addressed here, but would be an interesting field of further research.


1 Cultural variations among European and U.S. nations relevant to the present study are briefly outlined in

2 According to a study of Fortune 500 business firms, of the 66 per cent of the respondents who advertise internationally, only 8 percent use completely standardized advertising, with the remainder using some form of adaptation (Monye, 2000: 24 f.).

3 Usunier (2000: 160) proposes instead emergent patterns of a mixed local/global consumer behaviour.

4 This approach is often suggested in literature with different names attached to it (e.g. ‘differentiated internationalisation’, cf. Meffert/Bolz, 1994: 209).

5 See

6 Psychographic objectives are related to the three principal categories of mental activity: cognitive, affective, and conative (Chee/Harris, 1993: 167).

7 The school of thought that emphasizes cross-cultural differences is referred to as the ‘culture-oriented model’ (cf. Wells et al., 1998: 677).

8 A hard sell approach in message design refers to a rational, informal message that emphasizes a strong argument, and calls for action (Wells et al., 1998: 401).

9 Soft sell utilizes an emotional message that uses mood, ambiguity, and suspense to create a response based on feelings and attitudes (Wells et al., 1998: 401).

10 A couple is supposed to be stronger than an individual, while the individuals making up the couple may come from different national backgrounds and still live a successful partnership.

11 Meffert/Bolz suggest that 70 to 80 % of radio and TV ads use music (1994: 188).

12 These blocks that are part of the T-Mobile logo are referred to as ‘HappyDigits’ in T-Mobile Germany’s customer retention programme (cf. URL:,1788,28- _,00.html).

13 Multimedia is the integration of video, sound, music, graphics and text.

14 Myers refers to this phenomenon as ‘pointcasting’ (1999: 139).

15 cf. for this and the following information

16 In this field of business the degree of market saturization is referred to as ‘penetration’, which is the amount of SIM-cards in relation to the population number.

17 cf.

18 cf.

19 cf.

20 cf.

21 Roaming means a subscriber of one mobile network visits the other mobile network and makes or receives calls using the other mobile network to any place.

22 Second person personal pronouns will be analysed separately as a rhetorical device in the section on commands (cf. Ch.

23 Myers (1999: 139) refers to this strategy as ‘pointcasting’.

24 This is referred to as ‘delexicalization’ in studies of contemporary language use.

25 This refers to abbreviated modes and block-language as in newspaper headlines.

26 The direct object – here ‘options’ – is different for every section of the U.K. site (e.g. ‘service’, ‘information’ etc.)

27 Typographical devices are discussed in detail later on.

28 Here the general communications goal is not that the audience reads the whole message as this is usually the case for product advertisements.

29 There is a common and legitimate fear among marketers that a brand migration may confuse customers or may even result in a negative image (e.g. consumers might think that the company has been ‘taken over’ due to bad management and results).

30 See Ch. for an outline of the theories concerned with visuals.

31 North America currently garners almost 80 percent of global B2C e-commerce sales (cf. Mahoney, 2001).

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International Online Marketing Communication Strategies of Global Players. A Linguistic Study with Special Reference to T-Mobile
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Christina Kuttnig (Author), 2002, International Online Marketing Communication Strategies of Global Players. A Linguistic Study with Special Reference to T-Mobile, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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