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2013/2014  KAN-CM_A42  The power of (marketing) language: How names, frames, and phrases affect our perceptions, judgments, and decisions

English Title
The power of (marketing) language: How names, frames, and phrases affect our perceptions, judgments, and decisions

Course information

Language English
Exam ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Course period Spring
Changes in course schedule may occur
Wednesday 13.30-16.05, week 7, 9-15, 17-19
Time Table Please see course schedule at e-Campus
Max. participants 80
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Antonia Erz - Department of Marketing (Marketing)
Main academic disciplines
  • Business psychology
  • Communication
  • Marketing
  • Language and Intercultural Studies
Last updated on 23-10-2013
Learning objectives
The course helps students to understand the power of language, and therefore develops two important competences: Firstly, on a personal level, students enhance their own ability of consciously using language to express themselves. Secondly, on a professional level, they are equipped with important knowledge that they will need if they pursue a career as marketing manager or communications expert.

At the end of the course, the excellent student should be able to
  • Understand current theories and concepts on how (marketing) language affects consumer behaviour
  • Apply these theories and concepts to cases from business, public policy and daily life
  • Discuss implications of theoretical work, understand limitations of these theories, and suggest improvements for marketing practice
  • Identify potential new research topics (specifically in regard to the home assignment and to the student’s own master thesis)
  • Understand research methods applied in these fields
Course prerequisites
Fluency in English (speaking, comprehension, writing) is required. Students should have a basic knowledge of branding and marketing communications. They should be generally interested in consumer behavior and cognitive psychology, but profound knowledge is NOT expected. Students should be willing to dig deeper into theory by reading research papers and apply this knowledge to cases.
Individual Home Assignement:
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual
Size of written product Max. 10 pages
Assignment type Project
Duration 2 weeks to prepare
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Summer Term
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content and structure
There have probably been many situations in your life where you thought: Did I use the correct tone of voice? Should I have phrased it differently? These questions are not only to be answered in your daily personal life, but also in a future professional life as a marketing and/or communications expert.
The kind and tone of language marketers use to frame a message, if they frame it positively or negatively, if they use complex or simple words, and how much suggestive meaning they put in a message – with their choice of language they influence our daily life as consumers tremendously. The choice of language may affect, for example, how consumers think about a new product, if people understand the risk of smoking, and if design processes produce creative outputs. And language goes beyond our lives as consumers: Research even found that your first and last name can have a considerable impact on your success in school or how high you may climb the career ladder!
Language is a powerful tool that is sometimes used with too little thought – maybe because we are not always aware of how much a single word or even letter may change our perception. In this course, we will explore different current theories and concepts from the areas of
-       marketing (e.g., branding, naming),
-       cognitive psychology (e.g., decision-making, fluency theory),
-       learning (e.g., analogical learning) and
-       linguistics (e.g., sound symbolism)
These theories/concepts are core in understanding the underlying mechanisms of how (marketing) language affects our perceptions, decisions, judgments, and memory.
A main focus will be put on the creation and effects of brand names and the topic of message framing in marketing communications. Further topics include but will not be limited to the role of language in creative and design processes, gender-related language issues, and cross-cultural issues (e.g., global brands). Students will also be introduced into the various research methods that are applied to understand language effects from the qualitative (e.g., ethnographic research) as well as quantitative (e.g., experimental research) area.
Teaching methods
The course will consist of lectures, discussions, group work, and short presentations by the students. In the lectures, the students will learn about recent theories and concepts, which will be applied to cases from business, public policy and daily life. Research articles on the specific topics will be assigned for reading during the semester. They will also build the foundation on which we will discuss cases in class, and they provide the necessary knowledge to identify topics for the home assignments. A sufficient amount of time will be dedicated to on-going discussions in class, case and group work.
Last updated on 23-10-2013