They way people communicate in different culture can roughly be divided into two categories; high context communication and low context communication. In high context communication, in country such as Japan, “most of the information is either part of the context or internalized in the person; very little is made explicit as part of the message” (Mooij 2004, p. 33). For example, the word ‘no’ virtually does not exist in Japan and people use many different ways just so that they don’t have to say no. In contrast, low context communication values verbal communication where messages are direct and unambiguous. These two categories must be understood properly because they have a direct consequence to cross-cultural advertising. Advertisement created by an individual from high context culture, might be difficult to understand in low context culture. Japanese advertising often includes very little information compare to advertising in the United States. This is a problem because it’s difficult for the consumers from the United States to identify what the product is, from looking the advertisement. In low context culture, advertising tends to be more data oriented, scientific and logical.

High context communication – ambiguous message with very little information about the product

Advertisement for Kewpie half (50% less cholesterol) Mayonnaise

Copy (from top to bottom): Whether or not I’m by myself is fine (the direct translation is actually ‘by myself is fine, not by myself is fine too’), Convenience, Kewpie half


Low context communication – informative, data oriented with direct message

Advertisement for California Milk Processor Board

Copy: You should see what’s underneath. The calcium in milk keeps bones strong and helps prevent osteoporosis.