Last Updated 14 Jan 2023

Marketing use of humor In the Babbel’s advertisement ‘An Alien Abroad’

Category Humor
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Babbel’s advertisement ‘An Alien Abroad’ is a TV commercial that spreads the awareness of language. The ad is meant to capture the attention of people who seek to learn a new language. It presents an ideal image of how one can learn English, through their app. The advertisement uses humor as the strategy to grab the listeners’ attention. The advertisement also conveys a strong message concerning the benefits of learning a new language. The ad revolves around an alien abroad, Alexis, who humorously demonstrates how difficult it can be when one does not speak the locals’ language. No one understands his alien uttering as he strives to do something as simple as ordering a doughnut. Later, he sees an ad for Babbel. He uses the app to practice English and before long, he engages with everyone he meets.

Babbel is a subscription-based language learning app and e-learning platform that helps millions of people learn and speak in foreign languages with confidence. The company’s comprehensive learning system combines effective education techniques with state-of-the-art technology. Babbel uses various forms of advertisements to educate its target market about the languages. One form of advertisements is television commercials that incorporate visual and verbal rhetoric to raise awareness on language. Rhetorical devices are often used in advertising because they play an influential role in customers’ attitudes and evaluations. Moreover, they act on consumer responses to advertisements. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to analyze how Babbel uses visual and verbal rhetoric in their advertisements and to evaluate how effectively the ad connects with Babbel’s target audience.

Use of Visual and Verbal Rhetoric

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The TV commercial uses visual rhetoric to appeal to its target audience. Visual rhetoric relates to the persuasive use of images in advertising, whether on their own or while accompanied by words. Notably, a visual object becomes a communicative symbol when it depicts three attributes namely, the image is symbolic, and it involves human intervention and can be presented to an audience for communicating with that audience. In the case of ‘An Alien Abroad’, Babbel uses the alien as a visual rhetoric. The alien acts as a symbol that represents all the people who do not speak or understand the local language. His physical features, which are different from human, give the image of being an outsider. Non-local language speakers can relate to the alien mostly when he uses his uttering to communicate but people around him do not understand. In particular, it appeals to any person who has been to a foreign country that uses a foreign language. The advertisement uses the alien, to give the image that one can be an alien or an outsider in a foreign country when they do not speak or understand the foreign language used.

Additionally, the bus, the bakery, and bar are all crucial places that act as symbols that identify the everyday places of interaction that an outsider may face challenges if he or she does not speak or understand a foreign language. Moreover, one must commute, eat and have fun in a foreign place. The combination of these places clearly depicts the need to learn a foreign language for ease of communication. In these places, the alien is seen to be lonely and out of place, which is a clear representation of how an outsider feels in a new place. Similarly, in the hotel lobby, when he asks for his room key, the attendant lifts different items such as a hair drier, which depicts the lack of understanding of the different languages. In these areas, the advertiser incorporates pathos expressed in people’s reactions or the alien’s body language.

Similarly, the use of alien uttering in the advertisement is a form of verbal rhetoric that emphasizes one looks before learning a foreign language. Before moving on to the part where the alien can communicate fluently in the local language, the advertisement builds a plot around the lack of understanding between the alien and the people with whom he tries to communicate. This is evident when he is asking for directions, trying to board the bus, order a doughnut or interact with people at a bar. Here, the advertisement creates an emotional reaction that appeals to people who have been to a foreign country and do not know the local language. In addition, his laugh is hilarious, which emphasizes his nature of being an outsider.

Additionally, the fluently spoken English language is another form of verbal rhetoric. For instance, the locals can converse efficiently with the local language. Similarly, after learning the language through the Babbel app, the alien humorously converses with the locals. The theme of humor incorporated in his conversation generates a positive attitude towards the language-learning app. He can also order for a cheeseburger and converse with the bus driver with ease. Hence, the advertisement makes it seem as though they too can to speak as fluently as the alien does, simply by using the e-learning platform. In essence; while speaking in the local language, the alien now has a more comfortable disposition, which makes people around him feel that he belongs. This is evident when a person even asks him for directions to the park. Finally, repeated words such as ‘I am sorry’ or ‘I do not understand’ by the people the alien tries to communicate with are forms of verbal rhetoric that the advertiser uses to relay his message.

The connection of the Ad with Target Audience

Babbel targets people who seek to learn new languages. Notably, the combination of the visual and verbal rhetoric makes the advertisement relatable to this audience. For example, the alien creates an image of being an outsider. His physical features, language, and laughter emphasize his differences from human beings. The image of an alien is recognizable by the audience as being unique in a human world. In a foreign country, one can relate to the alien because it feels like one is on a completely new world. Additionally, the ad connects effectively with the target audience when the alien seems lonely, disappointed, and frustrated when people do not help him since they cannot understand his language. In particular; in a foreign place, it is difficult to ask for directions, order food and even join in conversations, which leaves one lonely and frustrated. Thus, the advertisers framing puts the target audience in the shoes of the alien, which makes them see the situation from his perspective. Such framing increases the effectiveness of the ads to connect with the target audience.

Similarly, the ad connects with the target audience effectively when the alien can speak fluently and communicate efficiently with the local people. His comfortable disposition, which makes people around him feel that he belongs, creates an image that outsiders would want to achieve by learning a new language. Moreover, he can board the bus or order cheeseburgers with ease and even help other outsiders by giving them directions. Such an experience influences the target market to subscribe to the language-learning app. Additionally, the use of humor in the advertisement captures the audience’s emotions and attention, which creates a long-lasting effect of being persuasive, recalled, and self-identified. Humor is a theme that captures people attention and motivates them to view the advertisement to the end. Notably, this theme makes ‘An Alien Abroad’ to connect with the target audience effectively. Finally, naming created through the use of proper names such as a hair drier or demonstratives like ‘I am sorry’ maintain a friendly identification with the audience.


To conclude, Babbel uses the combination of visual and verbal rhetoric in the advertisement ‘An Alien Abroad’, which makes it relatable to the company’s target audience. The ways these elements are framed and presented make the advertisement to connect effectively with people who seek to learn a new language. In particular, the way the advertisers match and present the visual and verbal rhetoric lead to a form of identification that can influence long-term consumerism of language learning services. Moreover, the advertiser begins by using pathos that captures the audience’s emotions and attention, then creates a form of visual arousal coupled with humor, and finally ends with a long-lasting effect of being persuasive, recalled, and self-identified. Evidently, the advertisement has a persuasive force that can ensure the target audience has a favorable attitude towards the e-learning platform. Moreover, the processing of the ad is experienced as humorous and joyful.

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