Cross Cultural Advertising Assignment

Cross Cultural Advertising Assignment Words: 2461

Culture is an important part of each society and it clearly has an impact on people’s behavior. This impact is a key factor for a science like advertising which targets to influence behaviors. McCarty (1994) as cited in Englis, and Dahl (2004) claimed that culture and values have their importance when talking about people’s reaction to advertising. Callow and Shiffman (2002) found a difference between people from high context and low context communication system in the ability to understand implicit meaning of advertisement.

Ewing, Salzberger and Sinkovics (2005) conducted a study on “how a pluralistic audience perceives a standardized television advertisement” and found dissimilarities between indigenous and nonindigenous people. O’Barr (1993) cited a social historian who considers advertisement as an edited and selected view of a society which clearly illustrates the relationship between advertisements and the culture within a specific society. Despite the abundant literature on this topic, there is no research studying the Moroccan context.

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The Moroccan society is special in the way that Moroccans watch both Moroccan and foreign TVs and are then exposed to different types of advertisements. The culture is an important component of each society and it is clearly influencing people’s perceptions, especially concerning advertisement, which mainly relies on people’s behavior. Is it possible for a multinational company to use the same advertisement campaign in every country where it can be implanted? Companies always want to attract people in order to gain more consumers and they use advertisement as a tool.

While watching some foreign advertisements on TV, are Moroccans going to react as foreigners? The Moroccan culture still has many taboos and people would certainly not accept advertisements with sexual connotations for instance. The reactions might also differ if the targeted public is from an individualistic or a collectivist society. The principal purpose of this research is to study how does the culture influence people’s perceptions of foreign advertisements? More specifically, how and to which extent does the Moroccan culture influence people’s perception of local and foreign advertisement?

Culture has certainly a great importance, plays an effective role on people’s behavior and influences particularly their perceptions towards advertisements and since there is a large diversity of cultures around the world, the idea of making a universal advertisement is unrealistic. Past studies have shown that culture changes people’s perceptions and influences their willingness to consume. What is used in advertisements, whatever their type was, is only what is believed to have an impact on people’s behavior.

Research have demonstrated that appeals and values used in advertisements across cultures change (Dahl, 2004). As cited in Dahl (2004), research by Caillat and Mueller or Albers-Millers and Gelb have underlined the fact that appeals used in advertising are related to cultural dimensions. In fact, what might have an effect in a specific cultural context might have the opposite effect in another context. Since advertisements are meant to promote a particular product through some values, it is logical that they change depending on the values they need to use.

Dahl (2004) has gathered most studies done between 1985 and 2004 in the field of cross cultural advertising and the first logical conclusion he came up with was that all of them agree on one specific point. Whatever countries studied, all the research have found significant differences in terms of strategies used and values promoted in advertisements. Whether the countries were close in a cultural point of view and shared some values or were very different, the results were that differences exist and are clearly noticeable in terms of advertisements.

Societies are not the same, their values change and thus, the advertisements change as well. Individualistic and collectivist societies are a good example of cultures where values differ. The first one worries more about the well being of the society as a whole while the second is more concerned about the well being of each individual. A famous social historian claimed that advertisements are a selected and edited view of each society (O’Barr, 1993). They are a reflection of the values the society in which they are broadcasted believes in.

McCarty as cited in Engis (1994) claims that “the individualism in the United States is clearly apparent in much of the advertising” (p. 34). The difference between collectivist and individualistic societies is very clear when you look at their advertisements. Dahl (2004) cited a study made by Cho et Al. that compares the US individualistic society to Korea which is clearly a collectivist society. And in fact the results were that in Korean advertisement there are more youth and collectivist contents while the US had more short-term enjoyment and individualistic content.

It clearly illustrates how individualistic and collectivist society perceive advertisements in different ways. Companies adapt their advertisements to suit each culture. Collectivist societies, according to the results of most research cited by Dahl (2004), are more willing to react positively for advertisements that reflect collectivist values such as family. In the opposite, individualistic societies identify themselves better to advertisements that underline any self-success.

Depending on the targeted population and its cultural values, people’s perceptions change. Values are acquired socially and thus they differ socially. Since advertisements target people from different societies, they must adapt themselves to the values of everyone. In the Arabic society in general, an advertisements with an implicit or explicit allusion to sexuality for instance will not be accepted. A study made by Al-Olayan and Karande cited in Dahl (2004) shows an interesting comparison between the US and the Arab world.

According to the results of this study, the main differences between the Arab World and the US in terms of advertisements are the information cues and information about price given in the ads, which are more important in the US advertisement. Sometimes, perceptions towards advertisements differ even within the same society. Shiffman and Callow (2002) and Dahl (2004) found that consumers from high-context communication systems use fewer information cues per advertisement than people from low-contexts and this even within a single society.

It simply means that people from high-context communication systems have more ability to derive the implicit meaning of an advertisement which is clearly going to affect how advertisements are made. Values differ widely worldwide and also within the same society. Advertisers are to take into consideration these differences in order to make efficient advertisements that can influence people’s behavior. Levitt’s hypothesis, cited in Dahl (2004), which supports the idea of standardized advertising across cultures, is refuted by most modern research.

Culture is clearly influencing people’s perceptions towards advertisements but also the way in which advertisers do their job. Whitelock and Rey, as cited in Dahl (2004), compared the degree of standardization of television advertisements shown in the UK and France. Their study suggested that different degrees of standardization may be possible. According to their study, it might be possible to somehow standardize advertisements between some cultures, but at the end each culture has its own identity and will react in a different way (Dahl, 2004). Even though some cultures may share some identical values, on global scale, cultural diversity is too important to create Levitt’s standardized advertisement. What is perceived as an effective advertisement in a specific society might not be seen as such in another one. This difference is justified by several social parameters such as social identity, social standards, the society’s traditions and cultural factors. Observably, religious principles, in addition to other factors, influence a lot the success or the failure of an advertisement. A Muslim country would not accept advertisements with sexual connotations or advertisements that refer to some taboos.

Obviously, advertising has a lot to do with culture and social features as far as the output is concerned. The Moroccan society still has reserves towards some specific advertisement contents that are used in other societies and this is mainly due to its traditions and culture. It is characterized by a specific stratification which implies that conceiving a successful advertisement is not as easy as it seems to be. Advertisers are to take into consideration several factors among which we find culture, ethnicity, traditions, social standards and religious principles.

A video footage promoting a shower gel starring a naked woman might be taken for granted in a Western culture while it would not be perceived so in Morocco. Such advertisement would be analyzed instinctively by the viewers as they will be helped in their judgments by several parameters that range from the simplest ones like social standards to the most serious ones like religious values. Consequently, the viewers’ perceptions include numerous components and features that vary from cultural characteristics to religious ones.

The Moroccan society is still attached to its tradition. Hence, advertisers have to take into consideration the viewer’s point of view considering that the success of the advertisement depends on it. As opposed to most of the Western societies, Morocco is an example of a Collectivist society. As it has been illustrated in their research, Zhang and Gelb, cited in Dahl (2004), examined how the Chinese collectivist society reacts to diverse types of advertisements. They made an experiment that resulted in interesting findings.

They exposed a sample composed of subjects of the Chinese population to an advertisement which conveys individualistic values and another which conveys collectivist values. The advertisements were both about the same product and the conclusion was that “Chinese consumers respond more favorably to a collectivistic than to an individualistic appeal” (Dahl, 2004, p20). Since the Moroccan society is a collectivist society as well, the previously cited findings can evidently be applied to it. Furthermore, the Moroccan values emphasize more on the familial side as well as the ethical one.

Moroccan people react in a positive way to advertisements in which they recognize themselves. These advertisements are those who convey collectivist values as for the Chinese society. Moroccan people tend to be more receptive to advertisements that underline their social values; however, there is an interesting contrast in the Moroccan society. A large part of the population is exposed to both local and foreign advertisements which are completely different. When a foreign advertisement is seen on a foreign TV channel, it might be appreciated even if the values carried differ radically from those of the viewer.

This is justified by the fact that the video was conceived in a “foreign” way taking into consideration “foreign” parameters. The advertisements might even push some of the Moroccan consumers to seek the promoted product in the local market. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to notice that if the same video footage was of a Moroccan production, starring Moroccan actors and using Moroccan dialect, it would have been perceived as shocking. Reaching this conclusion requires only to ask some Moroccans about foreign advertisements. They are generally appreciated and even when they are not, they are rarely perceived as shocking.

However, once asked about how effective would be this advertisement if it was made locally, most Moroccans would say that such advertisements with sexual connotations or talking about local taboos starring Moroccan actors will be a shame and must not be broadcasted on Moroccan TVs. This illustrates a Moroccan contradiction which is to react positively to videos with more individualistic values or even implicit reference to Moroccan taboos when they are made abroad, but when they are made inside the country they are perceived as inappropriate for the society.

Moroccan culture is complicated and advertisers have to understand it in order to make efficient advertising campaign. Additionally, values within the Moroccan context vary depending on the social class and thus make reaction towards advertisement different from a class to another. In fact, people coming from upper classes are more willing to understand and accept advertisements promoting foreign values even if they are made by local advertisers. On the other hand, lower classes are still attached to traditional values, and thus their reaction towards advertisements is mainly due to the traditional culture.

Thus, the Moroccan population presents an interesting diversity, especially considering the fact that upper and lower classes are radically different in their reaction to advertisements. Successful advertisers generally adapt their campaign depending on the social class targeted and not only on the Moroccan culture as a whole. The differences inside the same society are too different to allow them to make an advertisement that would be appreciated in the whole population. Advertisement is one of the most important business aspects nowadays.

It relies mainly on influencing people’s behavior in order to push them to buy a specific product. Advertising companies around the world make huge effort to promote their product in as many countries as possible. Modern research underlines the fact that to reach these objectives, advertisers need to take into consideration the characteristic of each single culture. As shown in Dahl’s (2004) research, the societies are too different in their values and behavior to accept Levitt’s idea of standardized advertisement.

To be effective, cross-cultural advertising must respect the different cultures that exist and adopt its values. The example of Morocco where in the same countries people react differently to a single advertisement illustrates perfectly how diversity matters. Most studies have underlined the differences between people’s reactions when they are from different culture. Cross-cultural communication in advertisement is represented mainly by cross-cultural advertising since the purpose is to communicate about a specific product and promote it in a different culture than the original one.

To succeed in the previous, respecting the differences and adapting advertisements to the culture where they will be broadcasted is a must. Universal advertisement is an utopist idea, but a single product which would success in every country is possible by adjusting the advertising campaign across cultures. In a cross-cultural communication perspective, advertisements should take into consideration the cultural diversity of each society and adapt themselves in order to be effective. Reference list Callow. M, Schiffman.

L (2002). Implicit meaning in visual print advertisements: a cross- cultural examination of the contextual communication effect. International Journal of Advertising, 21, 259???277. Retrieved on November 20, 2007 from EBSCO Database. Englis. B (1994). Global and Multinational Advertising. New Jersey: Hillsdale, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Ewing. M, Salzberger. T, Sinkovics. R (2005). An alternate approach to assessing cross- cultural measurement equivalence in advertising research. Journal of Advertising 34, 17-56.

Retrieved on November 20, 2007 from EBSCO Database. Dahl. S, (2004, January). Cross-Cultural Advertising Research: What Do We Know About the Influence of Culture on Advertising? Middlesex University Discussion Paper 28. Retrieved on November 20, 2007 from: http://ssrn. com/abstract=658221 O’Barr. W (1994). Culture and Ad, exploring otherness in the world of advertising. United State: Westview Press. Clark. E, Brock. C, Stewart. D (1993). Attention, Attitude, and Affect in Response to Advertising. New Jersey: Hillsdale, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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