The image of Europe as Advertised in Russia

Edgar Hoffmann

Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, Austria

Abstract

This contribution analyses the image of Europe passed on in current TV-advertising in Russia. This image is only understandable in the context of the current social discussions about national identity and builds on the national self-images. While Russia is very markedly different to Europe in terms of size and importance, tradition and history as well as community and shared identity, the image of Europe is depicted as a homogenous, intrinsically less structured counterpart to the self-image. The image of Europe is based on difference, not on negative foreign stereotyping. As a result, Russia appears as not belonging to Europe.

Keywords: Russia, Europe, advertising, national identity, stereotypes, business communication.


1 Introduction

This paper takes stock of the discourses on Europe in Russia from the view of advertising. It should demonstrate to what extent advertising can be seen as the mirror of underlying social issues in Russia.

The problem: since the collapse of the Soviet Union, "culturology" (russ. kul'turologiia) has developed into a new discipline receiving extraordinary priority from the state. In the minds of large sections of the political elite and many representatives of "culturology", scientifically and non-scientifically driven "culturology" occupies a key position in the closing of the alleged ideological vacuum which arose with the dropping of the previously mandatory Marxist-Leninist state ideology. "Culturology" has become an inflationary driven discipline–not just as a compulsory subject at schools and universities, displaying numerous, and also contradictory directions and contexts and only selectively linking to traditions of Western cultural sciences disciplines. In one major point unanimity rules in "culturology"–in the endeavour to absolutely essentialistically create a scientific and organisational basis for a homogenous national identity, for equally homogenous and valid national values and norms as supports in a crisis stricken and only slowly prospering society.

Apart from the fact that the ideological vacuum postulated in the self-conception of "culturology" cannot exist, "culturology" supported by post-soviet identity increasingly sees its main task as the provision of culturems or ideologems for a new sense of purpose for Russian culture and or civilisation from reference to the pre-soviet past for dealing with the present (compare Scherrer 2003:17). These culturems have complex effects on public discourse. They also especially affect the structuring of the world in the interior (the own Ethnos) and the exterior (the other Ethnoi), to which in the end Europe is also added.

2 The "Culturological" Potential of Advertising

Advertising functions in Russia in the market-economic sense through the same principles as in the West. Since 1991 it has made enormous, if crises stricken, overall development measured by the turnover of the advertising markets (2003: 2.63 billion US$, Rostova 2004: 10; 2004: 3.855 billion US$, Stepanova 2005:9; 2005: 5.030 billion US$; 2006: 6.490 billion US$, Rossiiskii reklamnyi rynok 2007) and recent double-figure growth rates. Its functional principles and structures resemble those in the West, and in view of standardised advertising by multinational enterprises, the question of the particularities of advertising in Russia is often raised.

Is the identity constructing potential of advertising in Russia also comparable with that in the West? First it must be stated that the advertising approach to consumers in Russia also works through the communication of a symbolic value for the advertised goods (vs. prime and labour value, compare Karmasin 1993: 253-260). In the case of identity constructions, this can occur through for example the conscious transfer of the settings into a particular ethnic fabric or the transfer of stereotypes onto characteristics of the advertised goods through an Ethnos.

Four TV-spots from the last 4 years should show the richness of aspects of advertising identity construction and simultaneously an approach to answering the question of the specific relationship of national identity and illustrate the linked image of Europe in Russia. The first is a spot for Coca-Cola, completely transferable to other countries and markets (example 1), then a not directly transferable spot for Sprite (example 3). Finally two further spots for products produced for the Russian and GUS-market follow - the popular beer brand Tolstjak (example 2), brewed at several Russian sites by Sun Interbrew and belonging to the globally active Inbev group, as well as the apple juice Dobryi (example 4), which can be counted as a genuine Russian product (The spot appeared 3 years before the purchase of the brand by the Coca-Cola-group). All the spots are shown in simplified storyboards with a description of the settings and translation below.

Example 1: Coca-Cola

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Setting: Teen party in a private apartment; dancing, relaxed atmosphere. (frames 1-3) A boy with a bottle of Coca-Cola in his hand switches off the music. (4-5) He approaches a girl. Expectant glances. (6-9)

Boy: – Like a Coca-Cola? (10)

Bottles and secondary text are overlaid: – The power of attraction. (11-13)

Both sit on a couch and drink Coca-Cola. (14-15) She slips off her shoes. (16)

When taking stock of the identity discourse in Russia from an advertising view, then two contrasting moments are clear from all examples: in example 1 there is a reaching out to the youth target group of Coca-Cola, which can be done in Russia just as in other countries. The approach to a particular target group typical for advertising works here not on an ethnic, rather social group specific basis. With Coca-Cola, global common fashion and desires are interlinked. Far more meaningful for national identity construction is example 2 in which beer is advertised, a product which in the German speaking area more than many other products demands a general identification with tradition and custom, homeland and original nature (compare Wagner 2003: 23-33, 109-126). This identification with original nature is completely absent in beer advertising in Russia. Example 4 also lives from the Russian national characteristics, especially from the reference to a fairytale. In example 3, the attempt is made to link the two contrasting moments with each other–the internationalism of the globally widespread brand Sprite with Red Square as a central identification point for Russians and Russia, the avant-garde fashion with influences from historical Russian garb.

Example 2: Tolstiak

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Setting: A rocket before the launch. A plump cosmonaut and 3 technicians are drinking Tolstiak beer in the cellar under the launch ramp. Relaxed atmosphere. Instrumental music in the soviet style of the 70s. (1-4)

Off: – Tolstiak beer. A premium beer from selected malt and hops. Tolstiak beer is perfect for a pleasant round of drinks. You can give yourself to its exquisite taste for an eternity. (5-8)

The cosmonaut leaves the group. He misses the rocket launch. (9-12)

The commander of the honour battalion initially saluting the launch shouts at the cosmonaut: – Where were you? – Having a beer. (13-14)

Metal plate, resembling the lid of an ammunition box. Insert is read off: – Warning! In a round with a Tolstiak time passes without noticing. (15)

The cosmonaut shouts toward the rocket: – Let’s go! [from a saying of Iurii Gagarin; also possible as a toast] (16).

Example 2 contains–in the visual code carrying the major narrative impact–a multitude of moments containing a broad identification potential, so for example the friendly round of beers, the traditional dried fish served with beer in Russia (here in appropriate tube form), the dedication up to forgetting the actual mission, the launch of the rocket with militarily honours inherited from Soviet times etc.–in a word, one consensus capable own representation of the Russian Ethnos, which encompasses many positive moments of self-attribution, but also (winking) negative moments.

Example 3: Sprite

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Setting: Fashion shoot on an empty Red Square (1-5). The off-speaker comments the events. After ending the shoot he points out the thirst of the two models (6-14). Visualisation of the off-text (15). Product image (16).

Off: – In reality, she’s not a real blonde. She doesn’t have blue eyes – she wears contact lenses. She doesn’t have a real bust, its silicon, and he’s not interested in girls, he has a boyfriend. And her dress is uncomfortable. Cut! Shoot over! The only thing that’s real here is that both are really thirsty. That’s why this is a Sprite-advertisement. Image is nothing, thirst is everything. Obey your thirst! Sprite.

Advertising as mirror of society means in all the examples that advertising draws on existing norms and values. While advertising therewith justifies its conservatism, it draws its innovativeness from the need to emphasize the uniqueness of the advertised products. In advertising conventions are clearly less flexibly handled than norms. Rule breaking can even be deliberately calculated if an advertising usage can so be gained; and innovative handling of conventions–also linguistic conventions–is in the end a requirement for advertising success. In example 2, it is the neglect of administrative duties linked with the closing, deliberately ambiguous invitation to drink more; in example 3 the exposure of the illusory world of films.

Example 4: Dobryi

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Setting: Medieval sounding flute. A knight sees a girl gathering apples (1-4). Upon seeing the knight, she tips over the basket (5-8). Through computer animation the apples are turned into juice (9-12). The knight takes a bite from an apple (13-14). Finally, the juice package is shown (15). Insert: – With spirit and wellbeing. (16)

Off, reciting intonation, partially rhyming: – From appealing, ripe fruits, from selected juicy apples, delightful and refreshing, with spirit and wellbeing.

Not all advertising lives from freely creative handling of rules and conventions. It is also often classical references to traditional and everyday situations which make advertising acceptable to the target group in the first place. In example 1, it is the imitation of a teen party, which can happen everyday in Moscow, in example 4 the imitation of a fairy tale, which as a traditional subject works very believably.

3 Showing Identity Constructions: The Methodological Approach

While the previous section dealt with the potential and necessity of advertising to handle norms and values conservatively and conventions and rules innovatively, in dependency to global and local reception conditions and customs, in the following the way should be shown how constructions of national Russian identity as conservative moments in advertising in Russia can be made visible. The image of Europe in advertising is in the end only intelligible on this basis.

The starting point here is that the analysis of advertising texts predominant in linguistic advertising language research cannot alone be sufficient. This is related to the fact that advertising texts result from the interaction between text and image and–also when they are regarded as supertexts in the sense of the unity of the verbal and visual (acoustic etc.) codes–must always be seen in their narrower and broader production and reception interrelations. These contextual aspects suggest a discourse analytical approach. Under the premise that discourse after van Dijk (1997:6) consists structurally of text and context, the analysis of (super) text and context as well as respective mechanisms of interpretation and explanation are integrated (see chapter 4). This approach is based on the "model for pragma-linguistic semiotic text analysis" by Hennecke (1999: 113-116) and its further development by Janich (2001: 202-205). The modelling of the text-context relations under the aspect of the identity discourse forms the second analyse step. As only very general preliminary work exists for this analysis section, some considerations are described in more detail.

As the notion of identity (russ. identichnost') in the advertising texts does not appear, indicators of the concept of identity must be sought in the verbal and visual text as well as in the context. This search takes place in 3 generally parallel steps.

A) for examination of the verbal text as first step: to filter out possible clues to identity constructions, the so called "linguistically marked" ethnic and ethnogeographic descriptions (Plungian/ Rachilina 1996) were used for searching with text retrieval programmes. With this term the authors describe the modification of an initial quality up to a maximal level. So must the Russian nemetskaia akkuratnost' ‘German thoroughness’ be read as ‘maximum imaginable meticulousness’. Plungian/ Rachilina hold (1996: 342) Russian, German, French, East (eastern), South (southern), West (western) as such linguistically marked ethnic and ethnogeographic descriptions, as well as although less pronounced; English, American, Spanish, European, Asiatic and Slavic. Searching for associations linked with the stated descriptions was according to the possibilities of the Russian dictionary of associations (Karaulov et al. 1994-1998) on the level of stimuli to responses and back again.

B) For examination of the visual text as second step it is necessary to undertake the allocation of the visual text to particular ethnically related identity constructions according to consistent criteria. These are a) origin of the advertisers, b) degree of localisation of the advertising (standardised/ adapted/ localised advertising) and c) location of the settings. Clear allocations could not however be made in every case, especially when advertising was only generally recognisable as "Western" or not belonging to Russia ("not to us").

The results of both steps are weighted under the aspect, of in how far the verbal text modified and reversed the visual text. Numerous variants and intermediate steps are possible here, then often only both together give a coherent entire text (advertising „supertext") (see Nöth 2000: 508-511, Janich 2001: 203-204) together through their intratextual relationships or–semiotically reformulated–by their interlinking through multidimensional encoding (Karmasin 1993:181).

C) for interpretation and explanation of the interaction of text and context on the basis of cultural key concepts as third step: in advertising text co-defines which aspects of the context are set in the foreground and therefore also which contextual aspects are, masked, hidden or otherwise, put into the background. This concerns not only the situational context, the setting, rather also the extended, cultural context. This is structurally modelled as for key concepts (details see Hoffmann 2004). The following characteristics are made valid for cultural key concepts on the basis of working to constants in Russian culture (Stepanov 2001) and to key words in the present (compare Liebert 2003): Cultural key concepts are based on concepts as mental organisation units of individual and collective nature. They are phenomena with cultural dimensions and therefore also non-mental organisational units. They have a long cultural tradition and are strongly anchored in the public consciousness. They are discrete units with a fixed core, shared by the members of a cultural community and less fixed outer layers, which are subjugated to the stronger discursive issues (compare Spencer-Oatey 2000:5; Stepanov 2001: 43; Hoffmann 2004).

Identity constructions are to be seen embedded in the entirety of cultural key concepts. The spectrum of cultural key concepts in literature on Russian/Russia always encompasses 40-50 entities (compare for example Stepanov 2001, Cherednichenko 1999, Karasik/ Sternin 2005), whereby their definition from each other comes up against methodical problems and is starkly divergent. In the current case of "identity" a limitation on national identity is determined as just one possible–when also central–form of identity, to be able to more clearly work out the important role of identity constructions in the post-soviet discourse. This includes a structure, which centres the self, and sees the other (in the current case–Europe) on the basis of the self, whereby in reverse the self can also be depicted on the basis of the other. The definition between the self and the other (the foreign) stands in close relation to this structuring of identity; this is possible in two aspects, in the relation of where Russia does or does not belong, and of who or what belongs to Russia, to the self.

4 Europe as the Not-Self

4.1 The Initial Situation of Advertising Identity Construction

The question of identity constructions in current advertising is solved if the culturological potential of advertising is brought on one hand in relation to current discursive processes and the culturological discussions on the path of Russia to regaining a lost world power identity and on the other related to existing traditions. Handling of history is therewith a central moment of the social memory of a society. It works "for a society like an immune system for the body, in that it differentiates the own from the foreign" (Schmidt 2003: 14). Additionally ethno stereotypes can be included on the basis of linguistic marking as well as of peculiarities of consumer behaviour. In advertising stereotypes have through their inherent mechanisms an endless sequence of generalisations and typifications, as well as through selective qualification a high potential to help advertised products to greater attention.

In Russia a very broad spectrum of auto and hetero stereotypes exists. Auto-stereotypes group around characteristics such as goodness (gentleness), patience, hospitality, working ethics, laziness, great national spirit, patriotism, over-trustfulness, openness and dipsomania (in the sequence by Sikevich 1996: 112), hetero stereotypes of Germans concerning organisation, love of order, meticulousness, thoroughness, domesticity, thrift, but also pedantry, predictability, obtuseness, of the French about finesse, refinement, gracility, kindness, gallantry, piquancy, but also coquetry, affectation, recklessness and nimbleness (in the contrastive depiction of Plungian/ Rachilina 1996: 345). These stereotypes match in general also with those determined in connotation tests by Kobozeva (1995: 106-113) in "stereotypes of the national character."

The spectrum of ethnostereotypes is overlaid in the present through particularities of buying behaviour. These particularities are on one hand related to the restricted consumer viewpoint and on the other to Ethnoi in the spectrum of goods generally. They also go back to traditions from more than 70 years of planned economy with limited access to goods from other countries, which made the few available goods especially popular. Notwithstanding the (in Soviet times not practised) advertising ethnic stereo-typification, fixed links of Ethnoi and particular goods groups formed: Germany and cars as well as quality in general, France and cosmetics, Italy and fashion as well as household equipment, Japan and high-tech, China and cheap or qualitatively low value goods (compare Soboleva/ Superanskaia 1986: 127-144). In the tempo of transformation, the clear differences between centre (Moscow and St. Petersburg) and periphery make their contribution (compare Griffin/ Babin/ Modianos 2000: 33-35).

The strong fixation of Russian consumers to countries and their stereotypes goes so far that orientation is sought, even in the age of the domination of multinational enterprises and the transfer of production to cheap wage countries or the complete dispensation with own production facilities, that national classifications are transferred onto companies. The disappointment is in such cases very great if for example a technical consumer product from a Japanese manufacturer betrays its origin in Malaysia through a label. An initial comparison of consumer behaviour with that in Western Europe begins to be reflected in particular social groups (primarily younger managers, compare Kononov 2002), even though brand loyalty in Russia is overall lower than in all European states (Russia 1997; Schmid 2004).

4.2 The Self-image in the Mirror of Advertising

For the examination a corpus of 1,280 TV advertisements on Russian TV stations was used, equally distributed over the years 1991-2006. A combination of quota and random selection ensured this was a representative selection. The verbal texts were recorded in a database, tagged, and appended with supplementary information on the visual texts.

The corpus was searched for ethnic and ethnogeographic descriptions, their derivates and associations. Concordance and collocation analyses followed (detailed description of the analysis steps on another corpus by Hoffmann 2003: 79-82). The visual text as well as the setting were examined according to the specifications in section 3, whereby the collective symbols in the understanding of Gerhard/ Link (1991: 18) received a complementary focus.

The frequency of the individual ethnic descriptions and their derivates alone show an overweighting of the descriptions Russia, russkii ‘Russian’ (related to the "Ethnos") and rossiiskii ‘Russian’ (related to the "Demos") with together 56.2% of all nominations against 43.8% nominations of not-self ethnic and ethnogeographic descriptions. Implicit information could be extracted related to the identity concept through the exclusion of nominations not related to stereotypes (for example of names of political and administrative entities), and the subsequent creation of concordances, collocations and clusters and their interpretation and explanation before the backdrop of the cultural context–not only the for advertising persuasion generally important semantic presuppositions, rather above all the pragmatic presuppositions.

The following table illustrates the overall distribution of ethnic and ethnogeographic descriptions, their derivates and associations in the corpus (both in the verbal and visual text).

Ethnic & Ethnogeographic Units (Nouns, Adjectives) with more than 10 Occurrences

Ads with Verbal Occurrences (Explicit and Implicit)*

Ads with Additional Visual Occurrences (no Verbal Occurrences)*

Total Ads with Occurrences*

Percent of all Ads with Occurrences

Russia

434

38

472

56.2

Germany

74

12

86

10.2

America (USA)

80

2

82

9.8

Europe

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2

42

5.0

Italy

31

4

35

4.2

France

28

5

33

3.9

England (Great Britain)

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13

1.5

Switzerland

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12

1.4

Spain

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11

1.3

Japan

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10

1.2

China

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10

1.2

Other

31

3

34

4.1

Total

770

70

840

- 100.0

* Double values are possible.

A closer examination allows the recognition of three linked major components of the national self-image in the mirror of the advertising utilisation of auto-stereotypes: a) greatness and importance, b) tradition and history and c) community and shared identity. The spectrum of goods advertised with these components is focussed due to the clear return to domestic foodstuffs noticeable since the second half of the nineties, but also as a result of restrictions for foreign investors in the financial sector on foodstuffs and financial services. Apart from this, it is more widespread in political and social advertising. Thus the study confirms the results of Sperling (2001), Scherrer (2002) and Kratasiuk (2006). These previous studies also analysed the role of traditions and history in Russia both in terms of the relevant links between consumer ethnocentrism and in terms of the relationship to one’s own ethnos/ demos (compare Orth/ Firbasová 2003, Karpova/ Nelson-Hodges/ Tullar 2007).

Russian greatness and importance seem to originate from tradition and history and therefore exist without question. This principle of nostalgia follows the greatness of the past–the further back, the better and greater, until this past eventually, in accordance with Hall, as "narrative of the nation" disappears in the darkness of myths (Hall 1992:293). This principle is thoroughly acceptable, such as the prominent use of folklore motifs in the spot for Sprite shows (example 3), or also through characteristic storytelling structures in the verbal text and the transfer of the settings into the world of myth and legend, realized in the visual text as shown in the advertising for Dobryi (example 4). Many intellectual and political, literary and artistic personalities and heroes, who occupy a magnificent position in pre-soviet Russian history and in the current culturological discourse, are also present in advertising as symbolic figures, in that inter-textual relations to them are created or they are represented in the setting. There are, for example, Tsar Peter I and other famous Russian personalities anchored in the collective Russian memory, in advertising for a bank (Bank imperial), Aleksandr Pushkin for a chocolate (Rossiia), Pushkins character Evgenii Onegin for a bank (Al'fa-bank), the poets Aleksandr Blok, Daniil Charms, Sergei Esenin, Osip Mandel'shtam and Boris Pasternak in a prize-winning series of spots for another bank (Slavianskii bank). Their usage–despite legal problems–is also common as (unregistered) components of pragmatonymes or ergonymes, for example Petr I cigarettes (after Peter the Great), Oblomov beers (after the title character of a work by Ivan Goncharov), Admiral Kolchak (after the commander of the Baltic Fleet in WWI).

While "uncritical imperial implications of the past" can be determined for the pre-soviet period according to Sperling (2001: 1325), selective identification is valid for dealing with the soviet era. Achievements of the soviet epoch are, as example 2 illustrates with manned spaceflight, thoroughly thematised and the symbolic value of the advertised goods increasingly used. A tongue in cheek handling of these national symbols is completely possible. Everything which does not fit into this tight framework is de-ideologised and transferred into the area of the everyday, homely oven and family.

The ethnonym ‘Russia’ and the derived ethnic descriptions as well as the associations (Karaulov et al. 1994-1998, 3: 152-153; 5: 150) svoi ‘my’, nash ‘our’, rodina ‘homeland, rodnoi ‘heimatlich’, prostor ‘vast space’, prostornyi ‘spatially far’, otechestvo ‘fatherland, otechestvennyi ‘fatherlandly, domestic’ link to such collocations as russkii stol ‘Russian table’ (as a symbol for family, hospitality, hearth), russkii narod ‘Russian folk’, russkaia kuchnia ‘Russian cooking’, rossiiskoe pivo ‘Russian beer’, rossiiskii product ‘Russian product’, rossiiskii shokolad ‘Russian chocolate’, nastoiashchii rossiiskii ‘genuine Russian’ etc.–basically, with everything which represents closeness, community in the area of the everyday. Although rossiiskii ‘Russian’ (referring to the "Demos")’ and russkii ‘Russian’ (referring to the "Ethnos")’ are strictly not synonymous and not always, according to the norms, politically correctly used, both are lexemes in advertising usage synonyms to see, they indeed mark the own, close, trusted in clear opposition to foreign. These lexemes function according to Bragina (1999:44) in the role of auto-stereotypes as dispositions in relation to the discourse, equally as pragmatic presuppositions.

4.3 On the Foreign image of "Europe"

Beyond the already mentioned examples, the opposition of self–foreign determines the usage of the culturological potentials of advertising in Russia to a great degree, even when the seemingly innocuous areas of foodstuffs and luxuries are concerned. On the side of the self stands the reference to original, traditional Russian recipes and ingredients through the use of the lexems retsept ‘recipe’ with adjectives such as domashnii ‘home’, imperatorskii ‘imperial’, starinnyi ‘old original’, traditsionnyi ‘traditional’, drevnerusskii ‘old Russian’, drevnii ‘immemorial’ and pridvornyi ‘from the royal court’, on the side of the non-self the reference to novyi ‘new’, korolevskii ‘royal’ (in relation to a non-Russian entity) and unikal'nyi ‘unique’. The common characterisations with quality adjectives such as natural'nyi ‘natural’ and svezhii ‘fresh’ for the home produced foods and luxuries appear in perspective to the foreign in combination with super- ‘super-’ or paraphrased with nepovtorimyi vkus ‘unique taste’ or informational, for example vkus fruktovyi ‘fruit flavour’ (compare Hoffmann 2007). Constructions are completely uncommon in comparison to those of the self-attribution with the components national greatness, history and tradition as well as community, not only in this context but also generally in relation to foreign images.

Advertising so shows itself in view of the foreign image as a mirror of society. Compare the results of the examination by Doroszkiewicz, which contrasts self and foreign images in the Russian press as a basis. This shows that, besides numerous parallels to advertising, a peculiarity also appears: the strong opposition between the richly structured self and the less structured, almost monolithic foreign is, in the press, basically the opposition of Russia to the West (compare syntagma such as na zapade dumaiut … ‘in the West they think…’, Doroszkiewicz 2001: 35, 41, 43). In contrast to the press, the marking of the foreign and so also the self marking in advertising boils down however to the opposition of Russia and Europe.

As is to be expected, all are to be found high on the frequency list as valid linguistically marked ethnic and ethnogeographic descriptions of Europe and the West. Their investigation–above all the collocation analysis–reveals however that the individual Ethnoi are represented as mutually exchangeable (for example vysokoe/ otlichnoe/ vysochaishchee/ nastoiashchee/ proverennoe/ bezuprechnoe ‘high/ awarded/ highest/ genuine/ tested/ faultless’ evropeiskoe/ nemetskoe/ shveicarskoe/ frantsuzskoe/ ital'ianskoe/ finskoe kachestvo ‘European/ German/ Swiss/ French/ Italian/ Finnish quality’, listed in decreasing frequency) and moreover equated with Europe as association stereotypes. The individual attributes are very freely combinable, for example Renniе – proverennoe shveitsarskoe kachestvo Roche (‘Rennie–tested Swiss quality from Roche’). In this sense Evropa ‘Europe’ and evropeiskii ‘European’ are to be understood as synonyms for normal'nyi ‘normal’ and civilizovannyi ‘civilised’. Each individual entity stands for the whole, for the high product quality, for high standards, advanced technology etc., which are indifferently valid across Europe. Verbally this is very differently realised, it always however works on the basis of the implicit contrasting of the normal and civilised with the self not-normal, uncivilised. Sometimes references to the buying behaviour peculiarities mentioned in section 4.1 are also to be met, for example, when the care range Kamėi ‘Camay’ from Procter & Gamble is consciously presented in a French context, although neither company context and country of manufacture are even close: Parizh – gde rozhaiutsia moda i dukhi – darit vam nepovtorimuiu kollektsiiu Camay ‘Paris–where fashion and perfume were born–gives you the unique collection from Camay’.

The depiction of Europe as of the foreign, other, not-self is based on difference, not on negative foreign stereotyping. In view of the necessity for advertising to increase the symbolic value of an advertised product through positive associations, this can then not be any other way. In this conditional structure, Russia is not to be seen as a part of Europe, however the restrained desire to belong to this construct occasionally comes through: Khotite zhit' kak v evrope, golosuite za sotsial-demokratov! (‘If you want to live like the Europeans, vote for the social democrats!’).

5 Results

The initially raised question of the image of Europe in advertising in Russia and the importance of identity construction(s) can be answered differentially. Essentially the potential of identity construction(s) is comparable with that of advertising in the West, in that the advertised goods both explicitly and implicitly, verbally and nonverbally are enriched with symbolic value according to the value canon of the respective target group(s). The stressed usage of Russian national symbolism, the imperial past discourse with simultaneous trivialisation or "folklorisation" of the Soviet inheritance show however that advertising works as a seismograph, as a mirror of Russian society with all its specific culturological discourses. Through the construction of the self from the components of greatness and importance, tradition and history as well as community and shared identity the complex sociological reality is reduced to a narrow, commercially exploitable section.

Foreign images like the image of Europe are built on this basis. The treatment of Europe and the West is an advertising depiction of the culturological discourse, which in the search for a national identity creates bipolarity between the self and the foreign, in which the foreign is depicted as a homogenous, intrinsically less structured counterpart to the self. The hetero-stereotypes subsumed in the foreign have therefore less concrete Ethnoi, rather more an ethnogeographic and cultural area as a reference point, "Europe," to which Russia is conceived as not belonging.

The identity concept is from an advertising view therefore an important element in the canon of cultural key concepts. It stands in conflict with the global production and reception conditions of advertising and the differing strongly changing norms and values as well as conventions and rules of the target group(s). Ethno-stereotypes have a fixed place in identity constructions. Their dynamics are minimal; dynamics have their instrumentation much more in the advertising discourse and its effects.

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About the Author:

Edgar Hoffmann graduated from Leipzig University, Germany, PhD in Slavic Linguistics/ Onomastics, Assistant professor at the Department of Foreign Business Communication (Institute for Slavic Languages), Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, over 40 academic publications on language of advertising, discourse & cultural studies, Slavic onomastics, language teaching, history of linguistics.

Contact e-mail: edgar.hoffmann@wu-wien.ac.at
Internet: http://www.wu-wien.ac.at/slawisch/team/personal_pages/hoffmann

Postal Address:

Dr. Edgar Hoffmann
Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien / Vienna University of Business Administration
Institut für Slawische Sprachen / Institute for Slavic Languages
Nordbergstr. 15
A-1090 Wien / Vienna
Österreich/ Austria


Journal of Intercultural Communication, ISSN 1404-1634, issue 15, November 2007.
Editor: Prof. Jens Allwood
URL: http://www.immi.se/intercultural/.