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1. Introduction to cross-cultural advertising research

            Cross-cultural research on advertising is a relatively new field which reflects the developments and trends of the last decades in economic and commercial activities. In recent years there has been an evident tendency to economic integration, especially for the countries who have reached a certain level of wealth. One of the main issues in international marketing and advertising is whether consumers from different countries will become more and more alike or whether the differences will remain stable or even will grow more. The question is reflected at a decisional level by the dilemma of the standardization (globalization) of marketing and advertising strategies or, at contrary, of their cultural adaptation to the paradigms and patterns revealed by every single country / region. The last two decades saw a proliferation of cross-cultural studies,

Introduction to cross-cultural advertising research

research and analysis of advertising, consumer behaviour, organizational behaviour etc. attempting to support one approach or the other.

            Such studies have been extremely useful in order to test the convergence of models and tastes in media and advertising consume, underlining common aspects and issues, differences and maybe potential universalia. According to the theory of convergence / divergence of consuming habits it is possible to identify a pattern of evolution, parallel to economic growth: "initially countries converge with increased wealth but in the developed world, at a certain level of wealth, convergence reaches a ceiling after which there is no further convergence and differences remain stable or increase" [1] - such differences are determined primarily by the cultural factors. Global campaigns would be successful only in a context of cultural and behavioural convergence between the countries were they are delivered; opposite conditions would lead to failure.

            Advertising "because… is strongly culture-bound, dependent on cultural factors such as language, values, lifestyle, communication style and media habits" [2] is the component of the marketing-mix most difficult to standardize. International companies believe in the convergence of consuming habits and prefer global strategies as the success of some brands as Coca-Cola, Levi's or L'Oréal may prove; on the other hand standardized campaigns may prove the opposite: C&A failed and has been forced to close all shops in UK while Marks & Spencer had the same fate in Europe. An interesting and unique trend may be traced in last Fanta campaigns where very culturally specific advertisements and messages, created in one country are delivered in completely different and distant cultural contexts across the world (an example could be "Brazil" commercial in Japan). In 2000 Coca-Cola revealed the option for campaigns, and even introduction of new brands and packaging solutions more adapted to local sensibility (Financial Times, 27 March 2000). "An explanation is that consumer behaviour is not converging across countries." [3] .

            The relationship between advertising and cultural factors has been analysed from various and multiple perspectives and disciplines such as communication and media science, marketing, psychology and sociology, cultural anthropology and semiotics, cultural studies etc. (appendix 1). But most of cross-cultural researches and studies in this field have examined forms and motives of American advertising and the cultural values carried by it or in comparison with a second country: China, Hong Kong, Sweden etc. There are extremely few studies to focus on aspects of Danish advertising from this perspective, as the already mentioned study of Marrianne Figge – TV Commercials in Denmark and the United States: a cross-cultural comparison which analyses a corpus of TV commercials from 1998. Denmark is also sporadically present in broader cross-cultural researches interested in advertising comparisons between more than 2 or 3 countries; but in such cases the data concerning Denmark are only secondary and not the main focus [4] .

            In the present paper cultural values analysis is applied to a corpus of television commercials collected during 4 weeks in November and December 2002, from the national television station TV2. The results of this study will be confronted with seven hypothesis formulated at the end of the next section, which is dedicated to a short characterization of Denmark and a brief description of Danish values, notions of lifestyle, mentality.

[1] De Mooij Marieke (2001), Convergence and divergence in consumer behaviour, Admap, World Advertising Research Center, p.30.
[2] Figge Marianne (1999), TV Commercials in Denmark and the United States: a cross-cultural comparison, http://marketing.byu.edu/htmlpages/ccrs/proceedings99/figge.htm.
[3] De Mooij Marieke, 2001: 30.
[4] Synodinos, N.E., Keown, C.F., & Jacobs, L.W., (1989), Transnational Advertising Practices: A Survey of Leading Brand Advertisers in Fifteen Countries, Journal of Advertising Research, (April/May), 43-50; Zandpour, F., Chang, C., & Catalano, J., (1992), Stories, Symbols, and Straight Talk: A Comparative Analysis of French, Taiwanese, and U.S. TV Commercials, Journal of Advertising Research, (January/February), 25-38; De Mooij, Marieke, Global Marketing and Advertising. Understanding Cultural Paradoxes, London: Sage, 1998.

Copyright©2002 Gabriela SAUCIUC, all rights reserved. The author's written consent is required in order to reproduce any part of this article. Free to use in Search Engines.

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