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Radostina Iglikova

University of Shumen



The present paper will explore some of the most common advertising strategies used in the creation
of product advertisements aimed at the target group of young people in Bulgaria. For this purpose it
will discuss the interrelation between youth culture and the values, ideologies and goals which
characterize it on the one hand, and the particular strategic devices which are employed in practice
on the other. The advertising strategies in this paper will be considered in direct relation to the basic
values of youth culture, involving the principles of originality, creativity, popularity, the active way of
life, freedom and, above all, the pleasure principle. Advertisements will be regarded as polysemiotic
texts consisting of two components - a linguistic and a non-linguistic one. Therefore, the kinds of
media used for the realization of the two components, their characteristic features and their intended
effects on the target audience will receive comment.

Key words: polysemiotic text, linguistic component, non-linguistic component, advertising strategy,
target group


The following paper will explore the strategies employed in the creation of five
advertisements of products aimed at a particular group of Bulgarian consumers. The
strategies employed in the creation of these advertisements are:

1. The strategy of the unusual and provocative;

2. The strategy of hyperbolization (foregrounding);

3. The strategy of extralinguistic factors;

4. The strategy of the use of celebrities for advertising purposes;

5. The strategy of challenge and flattery;

6. The strategy of shortening the distance between the addresser and the addressee;

7. The strategy of interactive communication.

The role of the linguistic, as well as that of the non-linguistic component of the
advertisements as polysemiotic texts are taken into account. The term strategy here will be
understood as the activity of planning certain actions, leading to the realization of particular
goals by using different means. Therefore, as strategies are employed in order to reach a
certain goal, they must take into consideration the specificities of the values and,
consequently, ideologies of the target group or groups.

The common goal of all five advertisements is to enhance the selling rate of the
advertised product by making it popular and liked among the target consumer group. As the
target group of these five advertisements comprises mainly young people between the ages
15-25, it is their values and ideologies that the strategies are based on.

The characteristic values of this group of people in Bulgaria include the principles of
youth, originality, creativity, popularity, active/energetic way of life, freedom and, last but
not least, pleasure. Therefore, the advertised products employ strategies which are aimed at
creating the impression in young people`s minds that by buying and using the particular
product they would acquire the qualities, necessary for them to reach a certain valued state –
they would feel popular, original, creative, free and active - which in turn would give them
pleasure and make them feel happy. The routine and boredom of everyday life comprise
some of the most typical complaints and reasons for dissatisfaction among young people,
which is why the products are also represented as a way of escape.

The five products this paper will discuss are: Nescafe 3 in 1, Dynamix, Spoko wafers,
Family wafers and Fanta. All of the products have TV commercials, the first two also have
billboard advertisements and Nescafe 3 in 1 advertises on the radio as well.

Advertising strategies in the non-linguistic component

Firstly, I will discuss the non-linguistic component of these advertisements and the
strategies it employs. As the strategies it uses depend on the type of media, I will give a brief
account of the specificities of the three most widely used kinds of media and the strategies
used in them.

Television advertisements

The fact that the type of media chosen for all five advertisements is television speaks
for the power of this media. Television is the most popular means of giving and receiving
information, it has proved to be a strong instrument for manipulation and\or modification of
the public opinion and behaviour. As such it provides the best ground for advertising
strategies to flourish and reach their target audiences. Television owes its popularity as an
advertising media also to the fact that it combines sound and images, thus enabling
advertisements to make use of both the auditory and visual channels of the audience as well
as of strategies typical of both the non-linguistic and the linguistic components.

The strategy of the unusual/eccentric and the strategy of the extralinguistic factors

The strategy of the unusual is used in the advertisements of Fanta, which rely on
miniature, stylized cartoon images of young people coloured in orange and yellow
(suggestive of youth, freshness and fun) and surrounded by grey and black (suggestive of
boredom). The fresh and unusual design of the characters gives the impression of something
new and original, something worth seeing. The same strategy has been employed in the TV
advertisements of Nescafe 3 in 1, using cartoon images of young people, drawn in an unusual,
eccentric animation style. This strategy is closely related to the pleasure principle, as
watching the advertisement itself is similar to watching a cartoon – an activity young people
find most amusing and pleasant.

The attention of the audience is kept by means of a very effective use of the
possibility for developing a plot, telling a story in TV advertisements. This makes it possible
for the creators of advertisements to make use of the strategy of the extralinguistic factors,
thus turning the product into a symbol of the particular social/target group. This strategy
exploits the context of the lifestyle of particular social groups and situates the product in its
frame in order to give it a new meaning and value. One of the Fanta commercials, for
example, represents the following situation: the cartoon characters are lying bored on a bench
in the park, having nothing to do when suddenly one of them opens a bottle of Fanta (orange)

which bursts into a splash of joy and the characters start having fun. Another advertisement
represents two groups of cartoon characters – one of them consists of hip-hop fans, the other
one of rock fans – who are divided by a grey wall/their different music tastes. They try to
outplay each other, when suddenly someone opens a bottle of Fanta and the wall falls down,
allowing the characters to have fun together. The motto of both advertisements is “Play on!”

Another advertisement employing this strategy is that of the wafers Family which
represents a group of teenage students, getting off a bus. It turns out that one of them has lost
some wafers on the bus, gets back on it and asks some elderly (probably retired) people if
they have found the wafers. They all reply in slang that they have not, while trying to hide the
wrappings of the wafers they have just eaten. The situation is suggestive of the idea that
people of all ages are united by the fact that they like the wafers. The motto, “Не зяпай,
лапай!”(or, roughly, “Don`t waste any time, eat it up!”, although such a translation does not
retain the rhyme in the original), is marked by the use of wordplay.

Still another one of the five advertisements which are discussed in this paper employs
the strategy of the extralinguistic factors – the Dynamix commercial representing a group
of exhausted teenagers at the house of another teenager who, however, is not tired and offers
them a cup of instant coffee Dynamix to give them more energy. They drink the coffee and
the party goes on. The motto of this commercial is “Live now, sleep later”, which explicitly
states the idea that young people can escape from tiredness and boredom, have more fun and
be more energetic and “dynamic” by drinking Dynamix.

Billboard advertisements

The second most popular advertising media are outdoor billboards. Their advantage
lies in the fact that they surround the target group, they are easily accessible, sometimes even
obtrusive. In order to be successful billboards need to be situated in appropriate places where
a lot of people will see them. Such places are bus stops, sidewalks, the sides of roads, etc.

The strategy of hyperbolization

As they rely solely on the visual channel, they must make good use of the images they
represent. These images may be linguistic as well as non-linguistic (words or pictures), but
they must be attractive, surprising, unusual, even sometimes shocking (therefore employing
the strategy of the unusual/eccentric). One example are the billboard posters of Nescafe 3
in 1, representing cartoon images of a smiling,casually dressed in colourful clothes young

person (a boy or a girl), sitting on top of a large bear with a cup of steaming-hot coffee in
hand. The motto of this advertisement is written in large colourful letters and says:”An
unexpectedly good combination”. The advertisement also makes use of the strategy of
hyperbolization by means of foregrounding the product – the cup of coffee has a central
position, the rest of the elements in the picture are arranged around it in order for it to stand

Here, as well as in TV commercials, the pleasure principle is widely used, for

example in the choice of colours. It is very important as research shows that particular
colours affect people`s behaviour in certain ways. Red, for example, is one of the most
widely used colours as it is believed to attract attention and make people more active and
decisive, even hasty, which is very important in order to sell a product the customer does not
actually need. Red, as well as orange, yellow and pink, are colours suggestive of pleasure,
freshness and youth, which makes them particularly appropriate for advertisements targeted
at young people.

The colour of the wrapping of the product is very suggestive of the image the
advertisers intended to create, that is, the way the product is supposed to make you feel, what
it is supposed to represent. For example, the sachet of the Dynamix instant coffee mix is in
black with a red lightning cutting through it, representing the outburst of energy the product
is supposed to make you feel. The wrapping of the Spoko wafers is a fresh mixture of orange,
yelow and green - symbolising the freshness of the taste, while the wrappings of the Family
wafers are in different colours – red, yellow or pink – depending on the flavour (chocolate,
vanilla or strawberry, respectively).

The fact itself that there are a number of different flavours is also meaningful – it
demonstrates the right of choice of the consumer, the idea that “no matter who you are and
what you like, you will find something for your taste among the wide variety we offer”.

Radio advertisements

The strategy of the use of celebrities for advertising purposes

As a media, radio relies solely on the auditory channel of reception, which poses
certain limitations on the strategies an advertisement can use. Therefore, the most popular
means of advertising on the radio is by using popular voices and music, thus employing the
strategy of the use of celebrities for advertising purposes. In this particular case, since the

target group consists of young people, the people who talk/sing about the product should be
popular among them, and they also serve as role-models, examples of who young people
wish to be like, who they admire. Therefore, this advertisement uses the strategy of
extralinguistic factors as well, as it aims to situate the product in the realm of the lifestyle
desired by the members of the target audience. The only product from the five I have chosen
to discuss here, which has a radio advertisement, is Nescafe 3 in 1. It uses the voices of a
popular Bulgarian hip-hop group called “Ъпсурт” (wordplay with the word absurd -
”Upsurt”), thus suggesting that if you drink this coffee brand you are the kind of person the
boys from the band would like, you are like them – independent, popular and cool, which is a
strong incentive for the band`s fans to buy the product.

As the strongest instrument the radio has is language, I will now move on to
discussing the linguistic component of the polysemiotic texts of advertisements.

Advertising strategies in the linguistic component

The linguistic component comprises the linguistic expression of the particular strategy
or strategies employed in the creation of an advertisement. Therefore, the linguistic devices
employed in each advertisement depend on the target group and its values, so that the
presence of a linguistic component can be as meaningful as its absence.

Since the target consumer group of the five products discussed here consists of young
people, the language and expressions in the advertisements are such as those popular among
people between 15 and 25 and reflect their way of life, what they like and consider
appropriate in their discourse(s).

The strategy of interactive communication - use of colloquialisms and slang

This strategy employs words and expressions characteristic of everyday

communication between the members of a particular social group. Its aim is to choose
linguistic signs which would be recognized as natural and familiar by the members of the
target audience, thus shortening the distance between the addresser and the addressee(s) and
creating a sense of trust and involvement in a simulated communicative act. In order for the
strategy to be successful, a thorough research of the target audience and its communicative
and linguistic specificities should be made.

In the cases discussed in this paper, the strategy of interactive communication works
mainly on the level of the word and phrase, i.e. via the use of colloquialisms and slang.

The advertisements of the Dynamix instant coffee mix, the Spoko and Family wafers
all include colloquial expressions such as “пич” („dude”), ”човече” („man”), „брато”
(“bro”), etc. The Dynamix commercial includes a quite detailed dialogue between teenagers
at a party, including phrases such as: “ня`ам пауър” (“ain`t got no power”), “презареди си
батериите, човече” (“recharge your battery, man”), “ти си машина”(“you`re a machine”),
and especially the wordplay on the expression “дай на макс”(„full power”, roughly, but
pronounced [ dai namaks ]), which sounds similar to the name of the product – Dynamix.

Another elaborate dialogue can be found in the advertisement of the Family wafers,
where the elderly people on the bus use teenage colloquialisms such as „сбъркал си
автобуса, бе, пич” (“you got the wrong bus, dude”) and “не се вкарвай в нек`ви филми,
брато” (roughly, „get real, dude”). Here the strategy of interactive communication combines
with the strategy of the unusual, shocking and provoking (the fact itself that elderly people
use this kind of language) and as a result it produces a comic, as well as quite surprising
effect on the audience, drawing its attentio to the advertisement.

The strategy of challenge and flattery – use of English borrowings

The strategy of challenge and flattery has two aspects – on the one hand it aims to
make a certain part of the audience feel “flattered” because of its knowledge of foreign
languages and its ability to decode/understand/appreciate the hidden meaning of the linguistic
component of an advertisement; on the other hand, it presents a challenge for those who do
not know the language, thus drawing and keeping their attention on the advertisement, as
when recipients encounter an object difficult to understand, they stay focused, become more
attentive and think actively in order to solve the problem.

The two advertisemens which employ borrowings from English directly merged in the
dialogue are those of Dynamix instant coffee mix and Family wafers. Typical English
borrowings are “man”, “power”, “max”, etc. As the English language in Bulgaria has become
almost a must for modern people, being the most popular language and a symbol of being
trendy, original and fresh, its use is a sign for the employment of the strategy of prestige, as
it is suggestive of the idea that if you use the product, advertised in English, you are
intelligent, up-to-date and “cool”. An example of this strategy is the fact that the motto of
Dynamix – “Live now, sleep later” – is not translated into Bulgarian, it is pronounced in

English, thus creating the sense that there is a secret code, understandable only for those who
use the product and comprise some sort of an elite group.

The advertisements of Fanta, however, represent the opposite of this “elitist” strategy,
by not employing any linguistic substance at all, except for the motto “Play on”. The whole
advertisement contains music, but no speech – thus employing the strategy of the
unusual/provoking in order to suggest the idea that people do not need words to understand
each other and have fun together, as well as the idea that the advertisement gives the audience
the freedom to interpret and understand the message as they choose to.


This paper gives a brief account of five advertisements aimed at Bulgarian young
people and of some of the most popular strategies they employ. Although they are only five,
these advertisements are representative of some of the most successful advertising strategies
and campaigns for products aimed at this target group and also speak clearly of the values
and way of life of young people in Bulgaria in particular. The information they give may be
valuable not only for those who study the area of advertising, but also for those who are
interested in the mechanisms of manipulation of the social opinion and behaviour and, last
but not least, perhaps even for those comprising the so called “target consumer group”, as it
may be useful for the undertsanding of their own behaviour as consumers.


Todorova 2001: Р. Тодорова. “Стратегии в света на рекламата”. Университетско

издателство”Епископ Константин Преславски”, Шумен.