The Language of Beer Advertisements

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 1999

9 Pages, Grade: 2,0 (B)



1 Introduction

2 Language in Advertisements

3 The language of beer ads
3.1 Brand Names
3.2 The accompanying text

4 The images

5 Conclusion

6 Selected Bibliography

1 Introduction

While the last centuries of human history can be characterised as a time when most countries were only concerned with increasing their power and either occupying other countries or separating themselves from them, our century (and especially the last decade[1]) is the age of unification and political collaboration: Europe is uniting and the so-called „global- market“ persistently developing. To the industries this new market is important in two respects: On the one hand there is an increasing number of potential customers. On the other hand the competition between industries and their products is getting tougher. Accordingly the development implies both: chance and risk. In order to seize the chance (= sell more products) and to avoid the risk of being swallowed by other industries it is most important to the companies to promote their products or services and to make them become commonly known. The best possibility to do so is to advertise them and it is quite interesting to examine the way how this is done. In this term paper I am going to concentrate on one single example of this process: beer ads. I have chosen this topic firstly because the beer- market is a perfect example of what is going on in general, as there are hundreds and thousands of different beer companies trying to sell their products, and secondly because even though there are that many different brands most ads show certain similarities. I am going to focus on these similarities much more than on the differences - as examining the respects in which beer ads differ is a much more complex topic which would go beyond the scope of this term paper. Hence, it is the aim of the following analysis to point out general ideas and concepts of beer ads concerning both components: images and language. In order to do so I am first of all going to explain the importance language possesses in ads as this question has been discussed quite controversially during the last years. The topic of the second part is the particular language used in beer ads (considering three examples) and the ideas which are connected to it. The third part presents the images used in these ads by not only describing the pictures but rather by pointing out the overall effect which they create. This effect is not only achieved by the combination of language and images but moreover by a complex interplay between both of them.

2 Language in Advertisements

In the process of examining the language used in advertising a most significant characteristic can be discovered: Obviously the producers of each particular ad do not choose the words they use only to transmit an “isolated meaning” (i.e.: denotations of words) but rather make use of the additional connotations words possess. Ads are supposed to evoke feelings towards the product, to raise the listeners´ interest for it and finally cause them to buy it. Without any doubts this aim is in most cases not only achieved on the basis of language alone but rather also a consequence of additionally used means, especially of paralinguistic ones. Ruth Römer states in this context: “Die moderne Werbung bedient sich nicht nur des Wortes, sondern auch der Farbe, des Bildes, besonderer graphischer Ausdrucksmittel und des Tones” (Römer, 1976, p. 23).

But even though there are examples of communication which function without words (cf.: Watzlawick, 1969, p. 50) and accordingly “Werbebilder, die ganz ohne Sprache auskommen” ( Römer, 1976, p. 25) this is still more an exception than the rule. Words are still important for several reasons:

First of all words are useful in order to describe certain qualities of a product[2] and therefore to individualise it[3] which is mainly achieved by a few words or (short) sentences added to a picture. Even if it is only the brand name of a product which is used in an ad this nevertheless has to be considered as a piece of writing and - as Römer says- a fairly important one: “Es ist für die Werbung außerordentlich wichtig, wie eine Ware benannt wird, denn der Name ist das erste, womit der Käufer in Berührung kommt” (Römer, 1976, p. 58). In this context it is also important to mention that words can be used to address customers directly[4] and to stress the special importance a product possesses for them.

More importance derives from the fact that language can be used to function in a descriptive, prescriptive or appraisive way. Consequently, the meaning of a certain word cannot be described on an abstract level as it normally depends upon its surrounding (pragmatics). It should be mentioned here that the term “surrounding” does not only refer to words but that it is the interaction between the paralinguistic and the linguistic means which illustrate the message of an ad quite clearly.

As I am going to argue in this term paper the aim of an ad is not to be precise and unambiguous in the first place but rather to give room to personal interpretations and feelings or – as Guy Cook puts it: “It is the less determinate, less rule- boundtypes of meaning which are most frequently exploited in advertising, and on which analysis of advertisements must therefore concentrate” (Cook, 1992, p. 100). Trying to do so one has to be aware of the fact that there are certain differences concerning the language used in ads which are highly dependent on the particular product. Perfume and cars, soaps and beer – all products need to use different words in order to reach different groups of customers and to transmit their particular message. One can therefore state that “Die Werbesprache besteht aus einer Auswahl aus den zur Verfügung stehenden und brauchbaren Möglichkeiten der gesamten Sprache” (Römer,1976, p. 233).


[1] This date refers to the end of the COLD WAR.

[2] This is especially true for technical products such as cars where the producer wants people to know about the specific advantages of a certain car (e.g.: four air- bags; ABS...) . Nevertheless it seems to be merely important in some cases to create the impression that a car has many advantages without necessarily explaining them. In one of the latest car ads it is said that the car is equipped with an „ADST – SYSTEM“. Most customers certainly do not know what this is but consider it to be positive – simply because it sounds technical.

[3] The importance of individualising a product is extremly high concerning products which are by their outer appearance very much alike (e.g.: tooth brushes or tissues).

[4] E.g.: “DAEWOO und Du“.

Excerpt out of 9 pages


The Language of Beer Advertisements
University of Hamburg  (FB English - Didactics)
Seminar II: The Language of Poetry and Advertising
2,0 (B)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
402 KB
The Language of Poetry and Advertising
Quote paper
Hanno Frey (Author), 1999, The Language of Beer Advertisements, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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