Use of Ethnic/Culturally Based Incongruent Cues in Informational versus Transformational Advertising

Neleen Leslie, University of Technology, Jamaica

Dr. Neleen Leslie is a lecturer in the School of Business Administration at the University of Technology, Jamaica. She lectures in Market Research and Integrated Marketing Communications. Dr. Leslie is a graduate of Florida State University, where she earned her PhD in Communication as well as master’s degrees in Integrated Marketing & Management Communication and Measurement & Statistics.


This study compares the relative effectiveness in the use of culturally incongruent cues in informational and transformational advertising. A case study was done to explore the extent to which ethnic/ culturally incongruent cues are used in advertising in informational and transformational advertising and to compare the effectiveness of these ads between the two advertising forms. The study sought to address two questions: (1) To what extent are ethnic/culturally incongruent cues used in informational or transformational advertising? and (2): Is the use of culturally incongruent cues more effective for informational or transformational ads?

A content analysis approach was used to extract social media data from YouTube for this study. The advertisements used to compare the effectiveness of informational and transformational ads were selected from AdWeek’s top 10 most watched YouTube videos of 2013. Nvivo 10 was used to capture the commercial and comments to be analyzed as part of the second research question.

The results of this study indicate that culturally incongruent cues can be used to great effect in both informational and transformational advertising. This study also suggests classification criteria for culturally incongruent ads as well as informational and transformational advertising. When analyzing the effectiveness of culturally incongruent ads based on responses in social media, we are limited to metrics embedded in these tools and those that can be developed by analyzing the data collected. This study proposes that for YouTube commercials, the number of likes, dislikes and the valence of viewer comments are the most appropriate measures of advertising effectiveness.