Although the use of foreign languages has become a popular means for increasing advertising effectiveness, this issue has scarcely been explored in marketing research. The present study investigates how consumers’ evaluations of advertisements displaying congruence or incongruence between the image of the product and brand advertised and the advertising language are moderated by their proficiency in the advertising language. An experiment was conducted with French and German native speakers, confronting them with hedonic and utilitarian advertisements in their native language and their respective foreign language. The hedonic French advertisements represented the congruent condition, the utilitarian French advertisement represented the incongruent condition and vice versa for the German advertisements. It was assumed that the congruent native language and the incongruent foreign language advertisements would be evaluated less favorably than the congruent foreign language and the incongruent native language advertisements. The results of the experiment revealed that German native speakers evaluated the advertisements presented to them in the hypothesized direction, whereas French native speakers evaluated congruent native language (thus hedonic French) advertisements better than any other advertisement. The evaluation difference between the French and the German sample was attributed to the different levels of internationality in French and German media.
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