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Aligning Accents with Diversity in TV Commercials

In today’s globalized world, brands are increasingly focusing on inclusivity and diversity in their advertising campaigns. One aspect I’ve recently observed is the portrayal of diverse skin colours in TV commercials. However, there is a subtle yet crucial element that sometimes gets overlooked – the alignment of accents and dialects with the individuals on screen. I often argue that this misalignment sometimes creates a sense of disconnection for viewers. I intend to explore how using original accents in advertising helps to foster trust and relatability, especially among new immigrants, and influence their purchasing decisions.

As we move further, let’s touch on the case of Authenticity. We can all agree that authenticity is a cornerstone of effective communication in advertising. It is the emotional connection that consumers develop with a brand when they perceive it as genuine and relatable. One powerful way to achieve authenticity in advertising is by using accents that mirror the cultural backgrounds of the target audience. When individuals see and hear someone who sounds like them, it creates an immediate sense of familiarity and comfort. This feeling of ‘being seen’ and ‘being heard’ can be a potent tool in the advertiser’s arsenal.
Also, accents have a profound effect on how a message is received. Research shows that accents can influence trustworthiness, overall credibility, and even social considerations. For example, a study by Harvard psychologists found that American children under the age of 5 chose to befriend children of other races with similar accent over children of the same race with a foreign accent. This demonstrates the power of accents in shaping our perceptions and connections with others.
Let’s then talk about how using original accents can help create a sense of relatability between the brand and its target audience. For example, do you know that Spanish accents used in American advertising would help to establish a connection between the 62 million Hispanic people in the U.S. and the brands that cater to their needs. Similarly, brands that target new immigrants can use original accents to appeal to this audience and make them feel understood and valued.

This reminds me of when I was planning to move to the UK. At the visa application centre, they offered me a free Lebara mobile sim card. When I arrived at Edinburgh airport, I noticed Lebara mobile advertisements on several screens. I thought it was a clever strategy to remind people to use their services. However, I believe an even better approach would have been to have advertisements that speak to me in my Nigerian accent, or an Indian accent or a Chinese accent. I mean, the initial outreach strategy seemed to cross borders, reaching all the way to Nigeria by placing their brand at visa application centres. I would like to think that their intention is to connect with us immigrants on a deeper level, right? Imagine an advert of a newcomer calling their mum back home informing them of their safe arrival, particularly with their local accent. I find it a missed opportunity that their advertisements primarily use British accents. It doesn’t mean that all their ads should feature foreign accents, but I believe there are specific strategic placements where incorporating these accents would be beneficial. You see, when someone hears an accent that aligns with their background, they are more likely to trust the brand and feel a sense of familiarity. This can greatly influence their purchasing decisions, as they are more inclined to choose a product or service that they perceive as tailored to their needs. By incorporating original accents in their advertising campaigns, brands can tap into this emotional connection and increase their appeal to newcomers.

A few brands already doing localised advertising right would be Nike in this ad campaign titled ‘Nothing Beats a Londoner, also, Hyndai, how they employed the Boston accent with a little humour while pronouncing “smart park” as “Smaht Pahk” in their Super Bowl commercial to appeal to that particular audience demography.

See, I guess all I’m trying to say is that, advertisers must learn that inclusive advertising goes beyond representing diverse skin colours; it should encompass accents and dialects that reflect the multicultural society we live in. That, my dear audience is my conclusion.
Thank you for reading.

References can be provided upon request.

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