The Use and Abuse of the English Language in German Advertising

Pre-University Paper, 2005

26 Pages, Grade: 14

Free online reading


A. “Come in and find out.” about the English language in German advertising!

B. The use and abuse of the English language in German advertising
I. Advertising – a general overview
II. The usage of English in our advertising
1. English in German advertising – Then and now
2. Fields of advertising where English predominates
3. Reasons for the usage of the English language in German advertising
III. The abuse of English in German advertising
1. Comprehensibility problems caused by English advertising messages
2. The incorrect usage of English in our advertising
3. The corruption of the German language by English advertising
III. The new trend in our advertising – The German language gains ground

C. “Let’s get personal.” – My personal opinion on the topic

A. “Come in and find out.” about the English language in German advertising!

The motto “Mix it, Baby!” does not only go for consumers who receive their electricity from E.on, but also for companies which introduce the English language into German advertising. In my work “The use and abuse of the English language in German advertising” I provide an insight into the usage of English in our advertising, also referring to the problems it entails. At first I explain some main features of the advertising industry, in order to familiarize the reader with its different participants, aims and procedures. Afterwards, I get granular on the role of the English language in German advertising by explaining the historical development, the fields where it predominates and the reasons for the usage. Subsequently, I describe the main problems, the usage of the English can cause, such as problems of comprehensibility and the corruption of both the English and the German language. In order to provide a prospect to the future, my work finally contains a chapter about the language trend in German advertising. Even though English appears in various elements of advertisements, like names, headlines and continuous texts, I refer to slogans in most instances. Since they appear in every kind of media and because they are the main representatives of the trends in the advertising language, slogans are very well suited for a precise analysis. Moreover, most of my sources deal with slogans when examining the role of English in our advertising. On the basis of these sources, I establish arguments which I amend with my personal knowledge, ideas and results. I collected English words, expressions and phrases from TV, internet and magazine advertisements and examined and organized them. But enough of introductory thoughts, pursuant to the Douglas motto it is time to “Come in and find out.” now.

B. The use and abuse of the English language in German advertising

I. Advertising – a general overview

Advertising plays a crucial role in today’s economy. It has various aims, a particular structure and it involves several participants.

By initiating an advertising campaign, enterprises always tries to achieve four main aims. The first aim is to attract peoples’ attention for a product (alternatively a service) which has just been introduced. Advertising boosts its level of awareness and animates people to test the respective product. The second crucial object is to remind people of a product that has been available on the market for a long time. In this case, advertising is used to maintain both popularity and sales. Another important aim of advertising is to stabilize the sales. This function primarily becomes important when pressure of competition arises. Here, advertising has to see that the respective product stays as known as competitive ones. Last but not least, it is crucial to expand the market share of a product, for example by promoting it in a new country. (see: Kick 2004, p. 18).

If enterprises intend to perform a publicity campaign, they usually consult advertising agencies. To find out more about their tasks and field of activity, I interviewed Johanna Novak, the head of the advertising agency “Aha!” in Weiden. According to her, advertising agencies consent on a certain concept for an advertising campaign with the respective firms at first. The enterprises provide a rough outline concerning their purposes and the way their product (or themselves) should be represented. Subsequently, the employees of the agency work on the advertisements. Graphic designers, advertising copywriters and even psychologists develop their different elements: Names for products and firms, titles, continuous texts and above all slogans which are also called “claims” in technical terminology (Novak, 7/1/2005).

The composition of an advertisement is mostly based on the advertising principle AIDA. These capital letters stand for attention, interest, desire and action. At first an advertisement must attract the recipients’ attention with a slogan, name, title or audiovisual effect. These elements must be short, easy to comprehend and, of course, striking. Still, they should provide sufficient contents to stimulate the recipients and to arouse their interest. The advertisement should be continued with an informative text or pictures, which makes the recipients develop a desire for the product. Now they must learn where they can buy the respective article and therefore the advertisement should provide further information about its availability. If the AIDA principle is adhered to in the right chronological order, it guarantees a successful advertisement (see: Cornelsen 2002, pp 42-44).

In general, an advertising message can lean towards two different forms. On the one hand it can be informative and argumentative by yielding information about a product. It describes its advantages and even compares it to competitive products. Here, the recipients’ attentiveness is of crucial importance. Only when they really engage with the advertisement, they can be involved in the description of the product and understand why they should buy it. The recipients pass through a cognitive process with this form of advertising message. Initially, they are meant to absorb information, deal with it, and finally keep it in mind.

On the other hand, an advertising message can influence the recipients emotionally. It motivates them to buy a certain product by creating a positive impression of it subconsciously. With this form, it is not necessary that the recipients are attentive, because they are not meant to think about the products quality. In general, the emotional and motivating influences cause an “activating process” with the recipients. The advertising message causes an excitement with potential clients, which animates them to sample the advertised product (see: Kick 2004, pp 22-23).

The participants that are responsible for the distribution of advertisements are the media. In Germany their variety is almost unlimited. There are a lot of print media, primarily newspapers, magazines and books. Mass-media such as radio, TV and the internet are also represented in the German media industry. Moreover, public forms such as advertising columns, billboards and even vehicles, establish a good basis for the publication of various advertisements. The choice of the medium is of great importance for an enterprise. The medium determines the spreading radius of an advertising message and it should also address to the respective target groups (see: Wikipedia 2005, Werbeträger).

II. The usage of English in our advertising

1. English in German advertising – Then and now

In modern Germany the English language is omnipresent in every form of advertisement. Since we encounter it in magazines, newspapers, TV and other mass-media, the English language appears to the Germans as if it was the most natural thing in the world. But has this always been the case?

The website documents slogans which have been published in Germany since 1950. The most frequently used words in the slogans of every decade are presented in the form of a ranking. The one of the fifties gives an insight into the word choice in Germany’s former advertising.

Picture 1 (, Slogometer 50er Jahre, 2005)

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

The ranking leaves no doubt. Except the word “cigarette” (which might also be of French origin) on position 75, the main part of the slogans in the fifties did not contain English elements. But obviously things have changed over a period of 50 years. The university of Hannover turned its attention on and listed English slogans (also partly English ones) that have been published since 1950. Their quantity

concerning the decades is depicted in a graphics.

Picture 2 (Androutsopoulos et al. 2004)

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

26 of 26 pages


The Use and Abuse of the English Language in German Advertising
Leistungskurs Englisch
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
1456 KB
Meine Facharbeit wurde mit 14 (von 15) Punkten bewertet. Die hier veröffentlichte Version ist eine Überarbeitung der ursprünglichen Facharbeit.
Abuse, English, Language, German, Advertising
Quote paper
dominik birner (Author), 2005, The Use and Abuse of the English Language in German Advertising , Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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