Comparison of attitudes toward sex appeal ads between Korean and American students




Kim, In-Jin, 1967-

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Advertising as a form of a social communication, is closely tied to culture. Compared to other aspects of marketing functions, advertising reveals the cultural values of the society in which it circulates (Unwin, 1974). At the same time, cultural values can dictate the type of advertisements audience exposed to. Cultural value is defined as "the configuration of learned behavior and result of behavior whose component elements are shared and transmitted by the members of a particular society." A person exposed to a particular culture becomes accustomed to that way of thinking and behavior. Value systems, attitudes, and even perception processes are culturally influenced, thus persons from different culture act, interpret, and behave differently. Due to this predicated, culture is particularly important in advertising because social norms, customs, and sanctions tend to be reflected in advertisements and decide the audiences' attitudes toward advertisements. And as the interest for international advertising increases, the importance of cross-cultural study becomes increasingly significant. Specifically, there is a need to compare the affects of Western and Eastern cultures on advertising. It is true that Western culture was assimilated into the Eastern culture and has become a part of eastern culture since the late nineteenth century. However, the indigenous Eastern culture still dominate Easterners' behavior and their way of thinking (Chun, 1989). For example, Korean society has been westernized through the sudden flow of Western culture, yet the traditional value system such as Confucianism, Buddhism, Shamanism and Taoism still dominate Korean behavior and thinking. Even though Korean society has been exposed to Western societies' sexual liberation, Korean has reserved conservative opinions about sex. They believe that nudity is shameful, and that virginity must maintain until marriage. This conservation is evident in the lack of sexual expressions in advertisements. The expressions of nudism and eroticism are prohibited from being used in advertisements by external and internal regulation. The Korean government and consumer organizations believe that excessive expressions of nudism and hedonism in advertisements will commercialize sex and will demoralize society. The purpose of this study is to compare the opinions and attitudes toward sex appeal advertisement (SAA) between two dissimilar cultural groups -- Korean and American societies. Since the world market is compared of many cultural groups this study will be helpful in establishing international or intercultural advertising strategies by examining the two groups' different opinions and attitudes toward SAA