‘Advertising depends on culture specific influences, such as differences in communication styles, communication | |objectives, information processing, cultural attitudes or linguistic characteristics. These specific conditions | |determine the nature of advertising practices in different markets’ (Stottinger and Holzmuller, 2001). Discuss, using | |relevant examples. | | | Is it possible to persuade consumers in different markets with the same advertising message? Will they respond positively? Or rather should the advertising message be adapted to mirror local culture? Target audiences differ from culture to culture in terms of how they perceive or interpret messages and symbols encoded in advertising, respond to humour or emotional appeals, as well as in levels of literacy and languages spoken. Cultures endow individuals with different rules or principles that provide guidance for the set of norms and cultural knowledge. ’ Issues like local traditions, attitudes, common lifestyles or even economical conditions should be taken into account while planning to launch a successful advertising campaign. The process of decoding the advertising message by consumers in different markets should be considered as well. It is necessary to mention that an advertising message encoded in one cultural context does not necessarily have to be embedded in a different one.
To start with, I would like to emphasize the emergence of international advertising which entails dissemination of a commercial message to target audiences in more than one country. Therefore, international advertising is considered as an intercultural communication process. It mediates in multiple environments, cultures and societies that differ in terms of communication styles, ethics or consumption patterns. All these activities comprise for a nationwide industry. In international advertising campaigns certain cultural or social values are revealed as well as particular worldwide values are propagated.
In global markets the process of communicating to a target audience is more complex because communication takes place across multiple contexts, heterogeneous cultures which differ in terms of language, literacy, and other cultural factors. Because of the addressers’ incapability to read the message due to literacy problems, a certain message could easily be misinterpreted. People may add some unintended meanings to the symbols applied to the advertised product. There are also major differences in the way of encoding certain advertised message by the public. Cultural influence is investigated in studies of consumer behaviour. It involves a trade? off between different aspects of advertised products and types of media used to promote certain products. ’ In order for the message to attract the attention of the target audience appropriate media channels have to be chosen. TV commercials may only reach a fairly selected audience in certain cultures. Print advertising surely will not be successful in countries where there are low literacy levels. South American people respond mostly to radio advertising as popular music constitutes an essential part of their local culture.
The cultural contexts have impacts on the efficiency of communication. Hall (1976) in his book Beyond culture argues that in high context cultures, such Japan and China, people are usually more effectively reached by image or appeals to emotions. However, De Mooij (1988) says that in low context cultures (most of Western societies) information processing is contained in the linguistic messages. Therefore, adequate description of the product or service should be included in order to satisfy customers need for content. A number of steps needs to be considered while processing with international communication. Once the market need has been identified, it must then be given tangible expression through the development of a new or modified product to fit. ’ At each step in this complicated process, cultural barriers may impede successful transmission of the intended message and result in miscommunication.
While conveying a verbal message, translation is a key device. Translators often face problems while translating colloquial slogans used in advertising. The American Dairy Association planned to enter Mexican market with its Got Milk? Campaign. What happened was linguistic misunderstanding, as the slogan was translated to Are You Lactating? ut in Spanish. Therefore, it is believed that visual symbols should be used in order to avoid confusion caused by low levels of literacy. However, different colours are perceived differently across the world. Green for example, which has negative connotations in most tropical countries, usually signifies danger, while in most European countries red connotes danger. On the other hand, in China red is associated with love, weddings and happiness. Brands such as Nike or McDonalds are known almost in the whole world thanks to their complex advertising strategies.
Most commonly advertised burgers in India – were lately Chicken Maharaja Mac and McVeggie. These are made of chicken, due to cultural habits of not eating beef. In Poland Wiesmak was promoted, this sandwich consists of polish sausage (considered as one of the content of traditional food), variety of vegetables and mustard. Hawaii McDonald’s introduced an option of local breakfast which consists of Portuguese sausage and fresh cut pineapple available only in the USA. These advertising strategies prove how cultural differences shape the nature of advertising.
As global advertising is often associated with the promotion of Western culture and values, societies with strong religious or moral values (e. g. Islamic societies in the Middle East) view it in a negative way. When Western cultured advertising exposes women in situations considered as inappropriate or morally wrong, it is very probable to be depicted as a subversive force undermining established cultural habits, traditions and moral values. However, in some cultures such as French, there exists a significant negative response to the imposition of American culture, their values and communication tools – e. g. use of English in advertising.
Through the selective reinforcement of particular social roles, language and values, advertising is considered as a significant force fashioning the cognitions and approaches that motivate consumer behaviour not only in the target market, but also in all aspects of consumers’ life. On the international scene, advertising inserts social influence in a number of ways. First, much international advertising is aimed at promoting and introducing new products from one society into another. This process often effects people’s behaviour patterns, changes their lifestyles and stimulates for example the adoption of different products.
For instance types of beverages, food, casual clothing or beauty products. A good example of this is how wine consumption is perceived differently across the world. In the majority of northern European countries it is rather considered as a special occasion drink. In Poland, where I am from, wine is consumed during special dinners, family events or when people go out for a meal. In the classification of wine consumption, Poland is ranked at the bottom of the European barrel, with less than two liters of wine consumed by the average Polish citizen each year.
The geographical location of Poland naturally affects the climate not to be wine-friendly. Another aspect is that Polish cuisine and eating habits of Polish people are not encouraging to serve wine with it. According to Ventzislav Mirtchanov, the Vinex-Slavyantsi president ‘drinking wine doesn‘t really go with typical Polish food’. More than 92 percent market share belongs to vodka and beer, while wine stands for only 3 percent. Information processing on the Polish market is restricted, as the law forbids the advertising of alcoholic beverages on TV, in the press or even on billboards.
The only acceptable exception is beer. Advertisements of beer after 11pm can be displayed on television but only under certain conditions which describe the tolerable contents. As a result wine importers argue that the nature of advertising restrictions is to be blamed for stymying the Polish market. Wine sellers have their work limited in terms of the practice of advertising. Indeed, because of the lack of communication objective to advertise wine, chances for wine advertisers to promote wine drinking habits are weak within the Polish market. The fact that beer commercials can be shown on TV gives beer producers a competitive advantage’ and even though vodka consumption has been decreasing in the recent years, it is mostly beer which gains new fans. One of the other Northern countries – Germany, possesses a long tradition in brewing and the consumption of beer as well. Equally as in Poland beer is similar in market positioning, i. e. it is viewed as an every-day beverage, which is mainly consumed by the male part of the market. Summing up, Poland cannot be compared to the great wine states of France, Italy or Spain when it comes to wine consumption traditions.
For instance in Spain, wine is produced in the region of Jumilla, Murica. It possesses 33,000 hectares of wine-producing grapes. Its vineyards produce up to 220,000 hl of wine each year. Therefore, Murcia is world wide known for its wine drinking tradition, history and beautiful weather. Wine connoisseurs know that wine is as much a part of Spanish culture as language and heritage. Archaeological facts imply that the wine-making in Spain dates back to 4000 B. C. Wine consumption was also a key component in the rituals of the various orders of monks and friars of the time.
Wine production has grown for several centuries. Because of effective advertising practices wines from Jumilla became distinguished on the Southern market. In most of advertising campaigns the relationship between wine and the monks was used. People who share the same traditions, culture and history identify their values and beliefs with these promoted by advertisers. On the Spanish market as well as most of Southern European countries’ markets wine is represented as an everyday drink, consumed as an addition to a casual family meal.
Consumers of the two markets are currently exposed to distinct styles of commercial messages based on different cultural values. The attitude towards wine consumption in the South can easily be compared to the beer consumption in the North. One of German advertisements of wine begins with a slogan ‘add a touch of luxury to every day’. Regarding to the different linguistic characteristics that are apparent because of further cultural disparities that message would certainly emerge as confusing and maybe even strange to Southern European consumers.
Furthermore, as I mentioned before, appeals to humour or sex also need to be treated with considerable care as their expression and effectiveness varies from one culture to another. Humour is a frequently used communication tool in the advertising industry. The dry British sense of humour does not always translate effectively even to other English-speaking countries. The message they intend to share with the public, is most probably not decoded by the American audience. British sense of humour is totally different from the American wit.
Limited understanding of other cultures’ habits, traditions, and values or believes hinders international advertisers’ capability to verify which aspects of humour. Comical communications are most likely to be amenable to international standards which should rather be exposed to local markets expectations. The specific content of humorous advertising is believed to be variable across different cultures alongside major normative aspects such as collectivism-individualism, sometimes causing potential problems with appreciating the hidden message. However, Dana L.
Alden, Wayne D. Hoyer, ; Chol Lee (1993) have conducted research which has shown that humorous characteristics of communications from various cultures have certain universal cognitive structures underlying the message in common. To conclude, I would like to underline that the aspect of globalisation should be considered. The world is now seen as a global village which can be treated as one large market. Thus, the nature of advertising practices is being standardised. Communication styles, objectives or cultural attitudes are considered as having only superficial differences.
But can the advertising industry persuade global customers to buy or consume a certain product? It is commonly assumed, that the fundamental needs are pretty much the same around the world, however, the way to meet and satisfy all these needs is significantly different in various cultural environments. The importance of international advertising as an integrating force within different cultures is massive. Messages with widespread symbols and slogans establish a universal form of communication among target audiences living in different environment, sharing different views and beliefs.
Moreover, advertisers promote multiculturalism. For instance The United Colours of Benneton campaign adopted images incorporating peoples of various nations and diverse cultural backgrounds. The British Airways Peoples of the World campaign has had a profound impact on cultures it addressed it’s message to. The increase in the creation of global media such as BBC, CNN, MTV or print media like The Economist or Forbes that target international audiences worldwide establish universal bonds and models of communication among peoples across the world.
Nevertheless, launching an international advertising campaign is risky. The message could still turn unconvincing or incomprehensible. Differences in communication models should trigger advertising people to deeply analyse their target markets. An increasing number of researchers have pointed out (Caillat ; Mueller, 1996), that it is important not only to analyse advertising in general, but to concentrate on discrepancies in cultural disparities within the different markets in order to discover prevailing variations in advertising styles and values.