Materialism and consumer socialization: A semiotic analysis of personal loan advertisements

Kara K W Chan, Hong Cheng

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Abstract

This article is a critical analysis of three Hong Kong television commercials of
personal loans for credit card debts that target at young adults. Through semiotic
analyses, the study examines the consumption values and ideology embedded in the advertisements. In the commercials, credit card debts were portrayed as bombs, stains, and physical loads, respectively. All the three commercials emphasized that credit card debts could be solved instantly and painlessly by using the advertised products. Analyses found that the symbols adopted tend to trivialize the credit card debt problem and attribute it merely to carelessness in money management. Seeking help from financial institutions were shown as being more effective than help from personal sources due to the latter’s lack of expertise, accountability, and empathy. Possible consumer socialization on adolescents generated by the commercials, implications for personal finance companies, and directions for future studies are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-79
Number of pages20
JournalCommunicative Business
Volume2
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2009

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