Discourse analysis of some nivea advertisements

This paper presents parts of the findings of a recent study carried out with three objectives: (1) to

analyze the linguistic features of Nivea advertisements which are designed to attract customers; (2)

to discover the discourse strategies used in Nivea advertisements to construct the concept of ideal

beauty; and (3) to investigate the social implications of Nivea beauty product advertisements.

Fairclough’s three-dimension model was applied on the data sample of 18 Nivea advertisements

downloaded from the website .co.uk. Due to the length restriction, this paper only

discusses the obtained results for the first and second objectives about linguistic features and

discourse strategies in Nivea advertisements. The research results showed that in terms of lexical

devices, Nivea advertisers used both positive and negative vocabulary, scientific terms, foreign or

exotic words, second personal and possessive pronouns. Headlines are typically written in short

simple sentences and phrases while body copies tend to be longer and more complex with the use

of comparison, imperative sentences, active and passive voice, present and future tense. Other

linguistic features including the use of such rhetorical devices as repetition and simile contribute to

create impression and attraction on viewers. The discourse strategies including negative and

positive self-representation, providing scientific proof, puffery, adding appeal to healthy beauty

and setting close relationship with customers were applied to build the producers’ beauty concepts,

deliver it to customers and persuade them to use the products.

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Discourse analysis of some nivea advertisements
e: anti-oxidants, SPF15, 
UVA/UVB, Q10, Vitamin C; New improved 
formula, Moisture Serum, upper layer, 
epidermis, Almond Oil; Aloe Vera, residues 
chlorine, UV rays; Crème, Eucerit®, 
dermatologically approved; Aloe Vera 
These words can make the advertisements 
sound more modern, sophisticated, 
trustworthy and attractive. By using such 
words, the advertisement makers hope to 
impress the consumers with an image of 
professionalism and advancement in 
technology [7], [8]. In addition, using exotic, 
foreign or literary words which sounds 
superior, prestigious and imaginative is one of 
the persuasion technologies in advertising [8]. 
Another lexical feature of Nivea 
advertisements is the use of second personal 
and possessive pronouns “you” and “your”. 
Kaur et al [7] and Fairclough [11] suppose 
that this technique can efficiently handle 
people in public communication thanks to 
synthetic personalization, a tendency to give 
the impression of treating each of the people 
in a mass audience as an individual. By using 
the personal and possessive pronoun “you” 
and “your”, the advertisers give impression 
that the readers are highly appreciated and 
establish personal engagement as the readers 
are addressed directly. The use of personal 
pronouns establishes a close relationship 
between the advertisers and the readers. It 
indicates as that advertiser and company are 
making sincere and honest promises [15]. It 
helps create a friendly atmosphere to persuade 
the customers because they may easily accept 
a product if a good friend recommended 
them. Hence, advertisements that seem to talk 
with friends, bring the readers closer [7]. In 
the data of this study, the advertisers use 
“you” and “your” frequently, in 12 out of 18 
(67%) selected advertisements. The following 
quote is an example. 
- NIVEA Daily Essentials 1 Minute 
Urban Detox Mask allows you to exfoliate 
dead skin cells and deep-cleanse your skin. A 
simple skin detox that takes just 1 minute and 
can easily become part of your daily skin care 
routine. Refine your skin's natural beauty and 
reduce environmental stressors on skin. 
To increase the effect of attracting customers, 
Nivea advertisers also use numbers in 56% 
(10 out of 18) advertisements. Most of them 
are numbers of time to emphasize the 
effective duration and the fast application of 
the products. Accordingly, the users can see 
the effectiveness of the products after just “1 
application” or they can only need “1 
minute” to apply the products. However, they 
are able to experience the benefit during 24 or 
48 hours. 
Nguyen Trong Du et al TNU Journal of Science and Technology 199(06): 65 - 72 
 Email: jst@tnu.edu.vn 69
- A simple skin detox that takes just 1 
minute and can easily become part of your 
daily skin care routine. 
- Provides 24h intensive moisture. 
- The rich and creamy formula intensively 
nourishes for 48h to noticeably improve the 
roughness of your very dry skin - after just 1 
Besides, the numbers are used to determine 
the capability of sunlight resistance such as 
SPF20, SPF15 and SPF50+. SPF (Sun 
Protection Factor) is defined as the number 
indicating how much a skincare product can 
protect skin from UVB rays, the kind of 
radiation that causes sunburn, damages skin, 
and can contribute to skin cancer. According 
to experts, SPF of 15 or above is 
recommended [16]. Therefore, the use of 
these numbers can improve the trust of the 
customers to the products. 
In addition, the belief of the users in the 
products seems to raise when the advertisers 
emphasize the natural origin of the product 
ingredients by using exact numbers like the 
following instances: 
- NIVEA Pure & Natural Moisturising 
Day Cream for Normal/Combination Skin is 
formulated with ingredients that are 95% of 
natural origin. 
- Formula infused with the NIVEA Deep 
Moisture Serum and 2x Almond Oil than the 
previous formula 
3.1.2. Syntactic features of the text components 
+ Headlines 
The headline is the most important part of 
written advertisements because it can attract 
the readers’ attention and make them curious 
of what follows. Headline is usually written in 
short, simple words to appeal only to prime 
prospects but it should provide sufficient 
information about the product because some 
readers only read the headline. An effective 
headline consists of primary product benefits, 
the brand name and an attractive idea to keep 
the readers’ concentration. 
In term of syntactic structure, headline can be 
a simple sentence with enough components of 
subject, verbs and objects. For instance, the 
used is used with five products, namely Vital 
Soja Anti-Age Night Cream, Q10 Plus C Anti-
Wrinkle + Energy Day Cream, Pure & 
Natural Moisturising Day Cream 
Normal/Combination, Nivea Men Sensitive 
Shower Gel and Nivea Men Energy Shower 
Gel. In addition to giving the customers 
enough information of the brand and type of 
products, with the word “caring, trusted”, the 
advertisers create a positive image of their 
products in the minds of their customers at 
the beginning. 
Many of the headlines which are composed of 
phrases or groups of words are also found in 
the data of the study. Even though the 
headlines only consist of phrases, the message 
can still be delivered to the readers because 
they contain the most appealing features of 
the products. 
For example: 
- Skincare Specially Formulated For City 
- A Fast, Highly Effective Detox Mask For 
Your Face 
- 48h Intensive Moisturising Care 
- Refreshing And Caring Shower Gel 
Moreover, Nivea producers use catchy 
headlines in forms of imperative sentences or 
rhetorical questions to persuade readers to 
find out more about the products. 
- Want To Feel Clean? Choose Deep Anti-
Perspirant Deodorant Spray 
- Men, Give Your Face Optimal Protection 
And Care 
Such questions and imperative sentences 
create a close relationship with readers/ 
recipients and serve as the sincere 
recommendations from friends [15]. 
Imperatives are commonly used in the 
advertisements to persuade readers to take 
certain actions [7], [8]. Therefore, they make 
viewers desire to buy these products. 
Nguyen Trong Du et al TNU Journal of Science and Technology 199(06): 65 - 72 
 Email: jst@tnu.edu.vn 70
+ Body copies 
The sentences in Nivea advertisements are 
mostly simple and declarative to provide 
enough information of the products to the 
viewers. This finding is consistent to those of 
[7], [8]. 
About verb tenses, present tense is the most 
common tense used in the data. According to 
Nugrawidhanti [8], the present tense indicates 
that everything being said is a general truth, 
the action is happening right now in the 
present. Therefore, it helps to show benefits 
of the products being advertised; the 
advertisement becomes more persuasive. 
Future tense is also used in the advertisements. 
However, it is found only in a few sentences of 
Sunshine Love Shower Gel product “This 
caring shower gel, with the unique scent of 
NIVEA Sun will remind you of a day at the 
beach! The uplifting sunny fragrance will 
lighten your mood, while the refreshing 
formula with Aloe Vera richly lathers to gently 
cleanse and care for your skin, effectively 
removing residues of suncream, saltwater and 
chlorine”. Future tense is usually used to 
suggest the future benefits of using the product 
and to describe future events. It also articulates 
the promise of the product to the users [8]. 
The use of comparative sentences is another 
syntactic feature of Nivea beauty advertisements 
to mention the desired benefits of the product 
and indicate the better quality of the product 
than others. For instance: 
- Instantly transform your dry skin into 
noticeably smoother and softer skin for 48h. 
- Skin is noticeably firmer 
- Formula infused with the NIVEA Deep 
Moisture Serum and 2x Almond Oil than the 
previous formula 
In addition, most of the sentences in the 
discourse are active sentences. However, 
passive voice is also used in the 
advertisements as shown below: 
- It’s specially formulated to work over night. 
- The skin is regenerated to provide a 
smooth complexion in the morning. 
- The appearance of wrinkles and lines are 
visibly reduced 
- Skin contours are improved 
- Skin is replenished with nourishing moisture 
- This iconic product is enriched with Eucerit® 
Passive voice is known very useful when the 
writer need to emphasize the effects of an 
action, rather than its cause or its actor [17], 
[18]. Therefore, with the use of passive voice, 
Nivea advertisers aim to highlight the high 
quality of their products that have special 
formula with natural origin and can make best 
effects on their users. 
3.1.3. Rhetorical devices 
The dominant rhetorical device used in 
Nivea advertisements is repetition. 
According to Nugrawidhanti [8] and 
Vaičenoienè [19], repetition helps to deliver 
impression to the audience through emphasis 
on key words and ideas. The data analysis 
reveals that the most common kinds of 
repetition used in the data of the study 
repetition of keywords and synonymy. For 
instance, in the advertisement of Urban Skin 
Detox +48H Moisture Boost Night Gel 
Cream, the key words are repeated several 
times (“overnight”, “healthy” and “the next 
morning”: 3 times; “detox”/ “detoxifies”: 5 
times; “refresh” and its synonym 
“invigorates”: 6 times; “skin”/ “complexion”: 
10 times). They aim to make sure that the 
readers catch the idea and promise of the 
product which claim to be able to make 
people’s skin become healthy just after 
applying the product overnight. 
The last rhetorical device found in the Nivea 
advertisements is simile. Simile is an 
expression which compares one thing with 
another using the words `as' or `like'. This 
simile makes the advertisement livelier and 
more interesting [8]. This technique is used in 
the advertisement of Deep Anti-Perspirant 
Deodorant Spray: Nivea Men Deep Anti-
perspirant protects the skin from sweat and 
bacteria for a long-lasting dryness and a 
clean skin feel just like after the shower. The 
advertiser compares the feeling of the 
customers after using the product with the 
feeling after shower. This attractive 
comparison can make viewers feel interested 
and want to try the product. 
Nguyen Trong Du et al TNU Journal of Science and Technology 199(06): 65 - 72 
 Email: jst@tnu.edu.vn 71
3.2. Discourse strategies used in Nivea 
According to Fairclough [20], for the mass 
media discourse such as advertising in which 
the participants are separated in time and place, 
there is one-sidedness of this type of discourse 
where producers exercise power over 
consumers. Sutton [21, p. 68] suggests that 
advertisement, to some extent, will reflect 
some personal beliefs and values of the 
advertiser while it is designed to influence the 
viewers. The advertiser often uses several 
strategies in the advertisements to attract 
customers as well as deliver the idea of beauty. 
The first strategy is positive self- 
representation and compliment. The 
advertiser charms the readers by mentioning 
positive and negative phrases and using 
catchy headlines like those listed in the above 
part that create positive self-representation 
and images and make the advertisements 
more attractive. By drawing positive images 
in the readers’ mind, the advertiser stimulates 
the readers’ desire and persuades them to buy 
the product [8]. 
The second strategy is providing scientific 
evidence or clinical test proof. According to 
Lane et al [22], it is essential for beauty 
product advertisements to provide scientific 
proof. By mentioning scientific proof, the 
advertiser can remove the consumers’ doubt. 
This strategy is frequently used by Nivea 
advertisers via linguistic devices: the 
repetition of the statement dermatologically 
approved; the use of scientific terms in all 
selected advertisements; the use of exact 
percentage of natural origin, SPF or time of 
effect duration. Therefore, they can give 
impression to the readers that the product is 
advanced, safe and trustful. Thus, they 
convince consumers to believe in their 
promise of beautiful skin through the latest 
technological advances [7], [8], [20]. 
Another strategy is puffery which is defined 
as the process of making broad exaggerated 
or boastful statements about a product or 
service [23]. It is when the advertiser 
mentions somehow hyperbolic statements to 
grab attention of the readers or to make the 
product more attractive [8]. Puffery appears 
in all of the data. For example, Nivea 
advertise a night cream which can be able to 
make skin look “healthy, radiant and smooth” 
after one night and can keep skin moisture for 
48 hours. It is considered a puffery because 
there is no way a cream can make people 
beautiful in such a short time and can keep 
skin humidity in such a long period. Other 
statements like “after just 1 application”, 
“precious”, “Instantly transform your dry skin 
into noticeably smoother and softer skin”, 
“Immediately protects against sun 
exposure” are also devices of puffery 
strategy in the advertisements. Those 
unrealistic representations and claims attract 
the readers to buy the product. 
The advertisers also use the strategy of adding 
appeal to healthy beauty. This strategy goes 
deeper into customers’ psychological aspect 
[8]. The advertisers try to attract the readers’ 
attention through personal statements about the 
attempt to make customers believe in the 
desire to be beautiful and healthy-looking. 
Therefore, such words as “energising”, 
“natural” and “healthy” are repeated several 
times in almost all of the research data. 
Besides, natural ingredients are also included 
in the advertisements to increase the effect of 
the strategy. 
The last strategy used in Nivea advertisements 
is setting close relationship with customers by 
using second personal and possessive 
pronouns and headlines in forms of questions 
and imperatives. The advertisers make the 
customers feel like they are given sincere 
recommendations from friends. Therefore, the 
effect of persuasion is improved. 
4. Conclusion 
In short, the researcher applied Fairclough’s 
three-dimensional model of critical discourse 
analysis to analyze 18 Nivea advertisements 
which were hung on the Nivea main brand 
website [9]. After conducting analysis and 
discussion, the researcher has found the 
answers to the research questions. The first 
research issue is about linguistic features used 

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