Global Advertising in a Cultural Context

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Februar 2009



The globalization and saturation of local markets lead to increased international activities of companies. In this context marketers are forced to advertise globally and to decide between standardization and differentiation of their advertisements, i.e. to either use one single idea all over the world or to make adaptations for local preferences. Besides knowing the pros and cons of these approaches, it is essential that advertisers are familiar with different cultures. Otherwise the advertisement runs the risk of being misunderstood or in the worst case to offend cultural fundamentals. In her book Mirjana Milenkovic examines the specifics of different national cultures and their implications for global advertising. Describing the various local restrictions and obstacles international advertisers have to deal with, the challenge of global advertising becomes clear. The perception of advertising is greatly influenced by the respective culture and its members' understanding of reality. On the basis of Hofstede's Five Dimensions, cultures and their characteristics are described. The reader learns about the behavior in different cultures and how cultural backgrounds impact buying decisions. With numerous practical illustrations Global Advertising in a Cultural Context gives an insight into the specifics of worldwide advertising and the challenge of both approaches in strategy and execution in front of the cultural background. This book gives recommendations for successful global advertising on the basis of six different advertising approaches and their suitability to overcome cultural differences.


1;Global Advertising in a Cultural Context;1 1.1;TABLE OF CONTENTS;3 1.2;LIST OF FIGURES AND TABLES;4 1.3;1 Objectives and Structure of this Book;5 1.4;2 The Concept of Culture;7 1.4.1;2.1 Definitions of Culture;7 1.4.2;2.2 Elements of Culture;8 1.4.3;2.3 Culture and Consumer Behavior;12;2.3.1 Hofstedes Five Dimensions;13;2.3.2 High-Context Cultures versus Low-Context Cultures;16 1.5;3 Global Advertising;19 1.5.1;3.1 Characteristics of Advertising;19 1.5.2;3.2 Advertising as a Communication Tool;21;3.2.1 Advertising Strategy;21;3.2.2 Advertising Execution;25 1.5.3;3.3 Specifics of Global Advertising;27 1.5.4;3.4 Standardization of Global Advertising;29;3.4.1 Kinds of Standardization;29;3.4.2 Arguments for Standardization;30;3.4.3 Arguments against Standardization;32;3.4.4 Culture and Global Advertising Strategy;34;3.4.5 Culture and Global Advertising Execution;38 1.6;4 Overcoming Cultural Differences;49 1.6.1;4.1 Culture-free Products;49 1.6.2;4.2 Cross-Cultural Market Segments;52 1.6.3;4.3 Universal Appeals;53 1.6.4;4.4 Culture Cluster;54 1.6.5;4.5 The Country-of-Origin Effect;56 1.6.6;4.6 The Middle-of-the-Road Approach;58 1.7;5 Conclusion;61 1.8;Bibliography;63


Mirjana Milenkovic, Diplomarbeit, BWL-Studium an der TU Bergakademie Freiberg in Freiberg. Abschluss 2008 als Diplom-Kauffrau.


Chapter 3.4.2, Arguments for Standardization:

The success of brands like Coca-Cola, Marlboro, and Nike has been greatly influenced by the standardized campaigns of these brands and are often demonstrated as an argument for standardization. Those global brands have been using advertising to create a culture around the brand. ‘It is possible to give a brand a certain identity in several countries simultaneously’.

In addition to that, brands like ‘Marlboro, Coca-Cola, Sony and Levi’s have become more than brands, they have become universal symbols of life-styles, images and satisfactions in which consumers all over the world want to share’. These entire worldwide advertising have set a standard for global advertising.

The cost savings and growing homogenization of needs across borders are additional arguments for standardization. Costs can be saved by authorizing just one single agency to develop one international advertising campaign instead of authorizing different agencies for each target market. Furthermore cost can be saved in using one good idea several times, as for instance one television advertisement in many European countries. Moreover the cost saving argument is substantiated by simplified coordination and control, and in the better use of management abilities and resources. Furthermore the stagnating and partially diminishing demand caused a globalization of competition in almost all consumer markets. This point of view is represented in 1983 by Theodore Levitt who wrote the book ‘The Globalization of Markets’.

Global Advertising:

Levitt advocates in his book the convergence thesis and writes about the worldwide increasing convergence in needs. The increasing tourism is one reason for that. Whereas in the year 1987 367 millions of people left their home country for journeys abroad, it was twice as many in 1972. As several developin
g countries increasingly are perambulated, the tourists demonstrate the locals a life of luxury and, as a result become a peer group for them.

Furthermore the food section is supposed to cause a convergence in needs. In many countries products from foreign cultures are offered. Food like Wiener Schnitzel and Danish butter and beverages as Apollinaris and Schweppes can be consumed worldwide.

The increasing extension of international media leads to a raised market transparency and the so called media-overspill. That is a further argument for standardization. The communication technology supports the international use of national radio, TV and print media. It is argued that this development makes standardized advertising meaningful. A cross-cultural communication leads to a reduction of information deficits if the viewers get exactly the same information through standardized advertisements. Newspapers, for example, are supposed to be especially suitable. A number of both males and females magazines like Playboy, Penthouse and Cosmopolitan as well as special interest magazines are appropriate for international advertising.

‘These […] magazines share the same editorial formula and reach fairly homogeneous international target groups, (…)’. Additional impulses for a convergence between cultures rise from diverse movies and TV-series, which are broadcasted in many countries. Due to that, movies like James Bond or series such as Friends or Grey’s Anatomy and the involved products through product placement are popular in many countries and, thus in many cultures.

Convergent segments especially in the target group of teenagers regarding similar life-styles in music, leisure and further interests represent an additional argument for standardization. Further target groups, which are supposed to be proper for standardized advertising, are the social elite who buy products from brands as Cartier o
r Mercedes, frequent flyer, music lover and do-it-yourselfer (Went, 2000). Furthermore it is said that similarities exist as well in the business-to-business market, because products are bought for the same reasons over the world.

Global Advertising:

Levitt advises companyies standardization because ‘companies (…) can, as a result, achieve economies of scale in procurement, logistics, production and marketing, and also in the transfer or management expertise which will all eventually add up to lower prices’.To standardize successfully, Levitt holds that ‘(…) one should not focus only on differences, one should look for commonality and similarity (…)'. Such similarities are supposed to be found in basic needs, physical or biological needs, basic emotions and basic frames of minds.

It is argued that standardized advertising allows companies to build a worldwide uniform corporate image. The worldwide identical recognition of the brand prevents confusion on the side of the consumer. Moreover standardization assures an international quality standard. That good ideas can work in many countries proves the brand Lux. It uses the same concept with same movie stars such as Penelope Cruz, Jennifer Connely or Catherine Zeta-Jones in about hundred countries successfully. The argument advertising could not be standardized successfully, because cultures are to much influenced by patterns, values, tastes and fashions, becomes confuted by the fact that ‘(g)lobal advertising has influenced some cultural phenomena to a certain extent’.

An example is the advertisement for Maxwell instant coffee in China. The Chinese have been a typical tea-culture until they saw the advertisement and became aware that there is more than tea.

Arguments against Standardization:

Marketing people who differentiate advertisements according to cultures, do not believe that one gre
at idea can cross borders and help to sell the respective products to imaginary universal global consumers. Their first argument against standardization is, that the assumption ‘(t)o sell the same things in the same way everywhere’ is wishful thinking and leads to false perception and cultural blindness.They are convinced that differences between cultures and the involved mentalities and values are too great and too deep as that the same stimuli could cause the same responses everywhere.

Global Advertising:

One example is the advertising for toothpaste. Whereas Americans carry about cavities greatly, French are less worried about that.

In this case one campaign does not fit the needs and attitudes of both cultures, so that the selling proposition has to be adapted to cultural specifics. The toothpaste needs to be advertised as a cosmetic appeal in France and a dental health appeal in the United States.

Another example is eating that is often assumed as being universal. It is basically right that eating is a universal need, but the preferences for certain food and the way of cooking it, differs from culture to culture considerably.

That this will change in the nearer future is hard to imagine. One reason for that grounds in the past of cultures. They base on divided memories and continuities since many generations and thus are historically specific. To fit cultures by using the lowest common denominator by the execution raises the risk of a bland, meaningless and hence ineffective advertisement. ‘Global communications have not made the world into one homogeneous culture, on the contrary, they have caused countries increasingly to assert their own cultural identity’. Opponents take the view that global products and brands may exist but no global people. The motivations for purchase are different. As for instance the using of the Sony Walkman that is often seen as a global product,
developed for global consumers with global needs. But while in the Western world the Walkman is used to enjoy music without being disturbed by others the cofounder Masaru Ibuka has the exact opposite in mind by inventing the Walkman. His intention was to listen to music without disturbing others. An additional argument against standardization of advertising is the so called ‘not invented here” syndrome, which refers to the unwillingness of people to accept an idea or a product from another culture, as a form of nationalism. The advertising laws, as mentioned in chapter 3.3, additionally cause that sometimes a standardization of advertising is not worth it."


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EAN: 9783836619950
Untertitel: Sprache: Englisch. Dateigröße in MByte: 3.
Verlag: Diplomica Verlag
Erscheinungsdatum: Februar 2009
Seitenanzahl: 68 Seiten
Format: pdf eBook
Kopierschutz: Wasserzeichen
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