How to Design Websites that Communicate Across Culture

How to Design Websites that Communicate Across Culture[1]

 There’s nothing as exciting as the theoretical possibility of reaching tens of millions of people all over the world with one single website.

In reality, chances are that, apart from some global phenomenon, most websites appeal to some countries but don’t appeal to others. Is there a way to create a website which appeals to all these different countries?

The answer is yes. At the very least, there are some basic rules to follow, which will help enhance your website’s chances of attracting readers who speak different languages.

 

1. Define your Website

The worst mistake any content provider can make is to enter different markets with a product which doesn’t have a straightforward personality and hence, doesn’t deliver a clear message. If it doesn’t come across very quickly, that is, what your website is about, it’s quite unlikely that Internet readers from foreign countries will take the time to try to understand it. They will probably just quickly hit the “back” button. As soon as a visitor lands on your website, he/she must be put in the condition of realizing the essence of the website within a mere 30 seconds.

 

2. Define Your Target Markets

Once you know well what your product is, decide which markets to target. If your website is dedicated to French wine or Persian carpets, market research will provide you with precious information like which country your potential readers would be from. Or you can even go in as a pioneer, choosing to enter a market which is traditionally not very receptive to your type of content/product, but make sure that it is an educated risk that you are taking.

 

3. Keep the Language as Simple as Possible

The simpler the language you use on your website, the easier it is to be understood by an international audience. This point applies both to websites in just one language (English, most of the time) or to multi-lingual websites. Straightforward, non-idiomatic English that are not full of lingo or word play will be more accessible to an audience that does not have English as its first or second language. Even in the case of a website which provides multi-lingual versions of the content, a text written in plain English will be translated more easily, and at a lower cost.

 

4. Choose the Right Design

Design implies culture. To get a very quick idea of this simple statement, surf through the different versions of websites of multi-national brands such as the electronics company, Philips. The Dutch website shows a big picture of a northern landscape with soft colours and the presence of a middle-aged man pushing a bike in a park with a relaxed smile on his face: the message is one of tranquillity and a sense of wellbeing.

On the contrary, the Japanese version features two small Facebook icons on either side of the screen and a small central picture with a young Asian man wearing a white shirt and tie, holding an electric razor in a pose which communicates urban dynamism, determination and tight schedules.

 

5. Choose the Right Color

The choice of the right colour for a website is an important matter. We all know very well how colors can influence our instinctive reaction to places, products, even people. We know very well that, for example, many banks choose a blue background for their brand because it communicates a sense of trust. At the same time, we wouldn’t paint our bedroom black or bright red because we are aware that these are not colours which help us to relax, to say the least.

But when it comes to designing a website which has to tackle international markets, there are more considerations to be take in. Different colours have different meanings to different cultures. For example, while black in western countries is a sign of death, evil and mourning, in China it is the colour of young boys’ clothes. On the other hand, while white in Western culture represents marriage, peace, and medical help or hospitals, in China it stands for death and mourning. So, picking the right colour is not just a matter of appearance, it’s a matter of implicit messages and content.

 

6. Translation and Lengths

Targeting other countries with your website very often means providing your content in at least one other language.

In this case there are a number of important choices to make. The first and possibly the most important one, regards the type of translation: electronic versus human translator. The first choice comes with two great advantages: it’s quick and it’s free. Just download Google Chrome, a browser which features a built-in translation bar at the top of the page, and click “Translate”. The drawback, however, is that mistakes and involuntary humour are a concrete risk. A (good) translator rules out these problems but might affect your costing.

However, there are less expensive options, such as the freelance portals www.peopleperhour.com or the translation website www.proz.com which offer translating peoples at competitive prices. Another possible solution is to start translating only some parts of your website into the second language, keeping the rest in your main language.

In any case, don’t forget that when content is translated into another language, the length of the text changes. So, keeping text separate from graphics is always a very wise move. For this purpose, I strongly recommend using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), which allow the content to be kept separate from page design, and Unicode, the program with which you can switch between over 90 languages and thousands of characters.

A last consideration not to be overlooked is that not every country or every region has a fast broadband connection, so reducing the usage of Flash and heavy graphics to a minimum is recommended.

 

7. Promote your Website Locally

Social media is still the cheapest way to promote a website, but when your target is another country you might be surprised to find out that there are other options besides Facebook and Twitter.

In fact, there are many national top social platforms in various countries which you can use to promote your website on. Take your pick from the world map of Social Networks.

 

8. Mind your Tone

Just one more final small suggestion about communication. Apart from the actual languages, different cultures often use a different tone. An American website is very likely to use a much more approachable and direct style than an Arab or Japanese one.

Since you never know how different people from other countries could react to being addressed too informally, a good way to keep on the safe side is definitely to always be polite and respectful.

 

Conclusion

Keep in mind all of the above-mentioned points and your international adventure will start off on the right foot. When dealing with cross-cultural products, always try to walk in your client’s shoes and be sensitive of their views.

 

Editor’s note: This post is written by Christian Arno for Hongkiat.com. Christian is the founder of Lingo24, a multi-million dollar international translation and localization company with more than a hundred employees in over 60 countries.

 

 



[1] http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/design-websites-that-communicate-across-cultures/

 

About Professor C.J.M. Beniers


Prof. C.J.M. Beniers is a well known authority in the field of modern and international communication techniques. He developed the Six-Component-Model. This model enables companies, institutions and politicians to communicate and negotiate with counterparts from all over the world successfully. His career began as international manager at Philips and later he earned his doctorate as professor in communication. He has more than 35 years experience as manager and management trainer. Thus he knows both sides – theory and praxis – very well. As scientist, Prof. Beniers conducts frequently research in the field of intercultural communication. The results of his interesting research can be found in news articles, free pod casts, audio books and his E-books such as “Bridging The Cultural Gap.” Here, modern managers learn how to prepare for business meetings with people from different cultures; they acquire the techniques and tools to handle situations in times of crises successfully, master intercultural barriers, country-specific communication patterns, looking into personal cultural values & systems. Knowing all this, men can prevent cultural misunderstandings and misinterpretations – not only in business but also in private life.

29-11-2016

Email: beniers@mac.com

 

 

Cultural Differences in Television Advertising-7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sociological research 1)

Sociological research is mainly interested in examining a certain aspect of social life, as it is portrayed in advertising in two or more countries. Often, this type of research tries to characterise a culture’s (or country’s) social attitudes towards a certain aspect of society by examining advertising content for the values that are reflected in the content. As suggested above, this type of research usually does not claim to explain the differences in advertising, but does try to explain the differences in the societies by content analysing the advertising.

Here are two examples of this type of research:

a. One focuses on the decline of work ethics in the U.K. and the US

An Advertising Test of Work Ethic in the U.K. and the U.S. (Tansey, Hyman, Zinkhan and Chowdhury, 1997) In this study, the authors examine if a perceived declining trend in work ethics can be supported by examining business journals’ advertising. According to the authors, “many social commentators in the U.K. and the U.S. claim that their respective country is in economic decline, and that a major cause of this decline is the indigenous workforce’s increased pursuit of leisure and affiliation rather than work achievement”. To test this hypothesis, the authors examined print advertisements for either liquor or cars published in The Economist and Forbes from 1971 to 1981. Using three coders (one UK male, one US male and one US female, all with a college degree (one with a Masters degree)), they analysed a total of 1757 ads for achievement, affiliation, work and leisure themes. The authors conclude that for the UK a shift from work to leisure/affiliation pursuits cannot be concluded from the themes of the advertisements studied, thus offering no support for the hypothesis that a shift from work ethics to leisure and affiliation has taken place in the UK (as claimed by some social commentators). In the U.S., where social commentators are more divided on the possible decline of work ethics, the results of the study are less conclusive. Two declining trends could be established in the US with some statistical significance: a decline in work themes in liquor ads, and a decline of achievement themes in car ads. Tansey et al. also point out, that overall the work ethic may be stronger in the UK than the US.

b. The other research examines gender roles in US, Mexican and Australian television commercials. Sex Roles in Advertising: A Comparison of Television Advertisements in Australia, Mexico and the United States (Gilly, 1988)

Gilly examined the differences of gender roles as portrayed by television commercials in Australia, Mexico and the United States of America, by studying to extent to which stereotypes were present in the commercials (i.e. to what extent the portrayed characters differed from the actual demographic variables of that country). In the study, a sample of 12 hours of programming was videotaped in Los Angeles, Monterrey and Brisbane from the major network with the highest viewer ratings at the times (8:00 AM — 4.00 PM on Tuesdays and 7.00 PM — 11 PM on Wednesdays). This yielded a total of 617 commercials: 275 US, 204 Mexican and 138 Australian commercials. One bilingual coder was used to code all the commercials for product type, product user, voice over and setting. Equally, each character was analysed for gender, age, marital status, employment (work situation, non-work situation, no indication), occupation (or work position), spokes person role, credibility (product user/authority), help (receiving or giving help), advice (receiving or giving), role ( partner, parent, homemaker, worker, celebrity, interviewer, other), physical activity and frustration. Gilly found some significant differences in the settings in which male and female characters were portrayed in the US commercials: “Women were more likely portrayed in the home, a store, or outdoors whereas men were more likely to appear in work settings.” No differences were found between Mexican and Australian commercials. Female voiceovers were used in 12% of the commercials in all countries. In all three countries, females portrayed in the commercial were generally younger than the demographic of that country. Gilly concludes, that overall the Australian commercials exhibit the least differences between men and women (” though still exhibit some sex role difference, [the commercials] are superior to the US ads in terms of overall equality of the sexes”). The US commercials varied to a greater extent, where females were more often portrayed as receivers of help, males more often portrayed as authority figures etc. Mexican commercials tended to have even more gender role differences, though Gilly comments: ” from a country perceived so much more traditional than our own [the US], sex role stereotyping is not much greater than that in the US ads.”

As can be seen from the above examples sociological research focuses exclusively on one defined societal phenomenon and tries to review this with the help of advertising images/messages. This type of research is also often used to illustrate the relationship between culture and advertising/media messages, given the often a priori assumption that advertising content is itself reflective of culture (Samiee and Jeong, 1994). As this type of research mainly examines one isolated area of interest, it can not and usually does not claim to illustrate a certain leaning towards themes and advertising appeals dominant in any one country overall.

1) http://www.stephweb.com/capstone/t8.shtmlProf. C.J.M. Beniers

NL Zoetermeer

01-02-2013

About Professor C.J.M. Beniers

Prof. C.J.M. Beniers is a well known authority in the field of modern and international communication techniques. He developed the Six-Component-Model. This model enables companies, institutions and politicians to communicate and negotiate with counterparts from all over the world successfully. His career began as international manager at Philips and later he earned his doctorate as professor in communication. He has more than 35 years experience as manager and management trainer. Thus he knows both sides – theory and praxis – very well. As scientist, Prof. Beniers conducts frequently research in the field of intercultural communication. The results of his interesting research can be found in news articles, free pod casts, audio books and his E-books such as “Bridging The Cultural Gap.” Here, modern managers learn how to prepare for business meetings with people from different cultures; they acquire the techniques and tools to handle situations in times of crises successfully, master intercultural barriers, country-specific communication patterns, looking into personal cultural values & systems. Knowing all this, men can prevent cultural misunderstandings and misinterpretations – not only in business but also in private life.

Contact:

Prof. C.J.M. Beniers
Amaliaplaats 2
2713 BJ Zoetermeer
The Netherlands

Telefone: +31 (0) 79 – 3 19  03 81

Mobile:  +31 (0) 6 2 061 8494

Email: info@beniers-consultancy.com

Website: www.beniers-consultancy.com

 

Cultural Differences in Television Advertising-5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CREATIVE STRATEGY 1)

Another aspect that has frequently been looked at is the overall communication or creative strategy that is used in advertising. One frequently used measurement system analyses

· if the advert presented in the form of a lecture, with a narrator speaking about the product (typical of direct sales commercials),

· or if a “story” or drama is created in the commercial. This distinction was originally developed by Wells (1988) and later adopted and expanded by Deighton, Romer and McQueen (1989).

 

Message elements
Wells Deighton Narration Character Plot
Lecture Yes No No
Drama and Lecture Demonstration Yes No Yes
Story Yes Yes Yes
Drama Drama Yes Yes Yes

· Typically, a lecture-type commercial will use hard sales strategy to convince the consumer,

· whereas a drama will be more soft sell approach. Equally, a lecture-type commercial will usually contain more information cues than a drama-type commercial, due to the nature of the presentation.

Looking at the communication style used,

· direct speech can be expected to be predominant in lecture type commercials, as the narrator usually addresses the audience directly (”Call now”).

· Indirect speech is logically more dominant in drama-type commercials, where the characters can be expected to speak to each other as the plot develops.

A slightly different flavour of creative strategy research, and more differentiated than the above, focuses on a variety of possible creative strategies that are frequently used in commercials. Most dominantly used are Simon’s Creative Strategies (1971). Martenson (1987), researching advertising in the US and Sweden, defined the strategies as follows:

Strategy Description
Information Presentation of unadorned facts, without explanation or argument, merely “news about” the product concerned
Argument Relating of facts (reasons why) in some detail to the desired purchase; logical “playing on established desires” in presenting “excuses” to buy
Motivation with psychological appeals Explicit statement of how the product will benefit the consumer; use of emotions and appeals to self-interest in creating desires not previously readily apparent; interpretation of facts in an “especially for you” framework
Repeated assertion Hard-selling repetition of one basic piece of information, often a generality, unsupported by factual proof.
Command A “non-logical” reminder (either hard-sell or soft-sell) to predispose audience favourably; maybe reinforced by an authoritative figure
Brand familiarisation Friendly, conversational feel, few or no “selling facts”, but suggestion of loyalty to and “trustworthiness” of the advertiser, keeps brand name before the public.
Symbolic assertion Subtle presentation of a single piece of information, links the product to a place, event, person or symbol (any positive connotation); sales pitch usually not explicit, copy [print ed.] usually minimal, and product, in general, not “featured”.
Imitation Testimonial, by a celebrity, by a “hidden camera” participant or by individual(s) unknown but with whom readers can readily identify (or whom they respect because of specified characteristics).
Obligation Free offer of a gift or information or a touching sentiment, some attempt to make the reader feel grateful.
Habit sharing Offer of a sample or reduced price to initiate a “regular practice or routine”; product usually featured.

This method again is clearly more differentiated, and allows for a greater variety of creative styles to be analysed than the lecture/drama method. It is however quite limited in its approach and usability to analyse the interaction between values and advertising, as it focuses more on an additional preference for a certain creative style or styles in a country. It is however well suited for that, and possibly a good tool for a more descriptive research than pure value centred research.

Again, this method makes use of communication style and the use of linguistic styles, such as a preference for indirect and direct speech, however the link is less clearly visible than with the lecture/drama method.

Another stylistic or creative method that is frequently referred to and researched is the use of humour in advertising. This stands out somewhat, as it doesn’t represent a full creative style, and is not linked directly within the area of information cue or appeals research.

As can be seen from the above examples of research instruments used, the focus of research into (cross-cultural) advertising can be radically different, though related. Research into appeals is evidently the most broadly focused research, whereas information cues and strategy research takes a far narrower, however more explicit, focus. All of theses research foci make a useful contribution to identify more clearly how advertising is influenced by culture, and if used in combination, have the potential to provide an extremely powerful analysis of advertising practice.

Prof. C.J.M. Beniers

NL Zoetermeer

15-01-2013

About Professor C.J.M. Beniers


Prof. C.J.M. Beniers is a well known authority in the field of modern and international communication techniques. He developed the Six-Component-Model. This model enables companies, institutions and politicians to communicate and negotiate with counterparts from all over the world successfully. His career began as international manager at Philips and later he earned his doctorate as professor in communication. He has more than 35 years experience as manager and management trainer. Thus he knows both sides – theory and praxis – very well. As scientist, Prof. Beniers conducts frequently research in the field of intercultural communication. The results of his interesting research can be found in news articles, free pod casts, audio books and his E-books such as “Bridging The Cultural Gap.” Here, modern managers learn how to prepare for business meetings with people from different cultures; they acquire the techniques and tools to handle situations in times of crises successfully, master intercultural barriers, country-specific communication patterns, looking into personal cultural values & systems. Knowing all this, men can prevent cultural misunderstandings and misinterpretations – not only in business but also in private life.

Contact:

Prof. C.J.M. Beniers

Amaliaplaats 2

2713 BJ Zoetermeer
The Netherlands

Telefone: +31 (0) 79 – 3 19  03 81
Mobile:  +31 (0) 6 2 061 8494

Email: info@beniers-consultancy.com

Website: www.beniers-consultancy.com

Cultural Differences In Television Advertising-4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INFORMATION CUES 1)

Other researchers focused more narrowly on the information content, rather than the appeals as a whole, in advertising. Information cues in advertising are generally understood to relate to pieces of information relating to the product or service that is being offered, the content in which the product is used or consumed is generally disregarded. A major tool for research focusing on information content is the Resnick-Stern Content Classification System (Stern, Dean & Resnick, 1981).

Information cue Descriptions
Price Value What does a product cost? What is the value-retention capability? What is the need/satisfaction capability?
Quality What are the product’s characteristics that distinguish it from competing products based on an objective evaluation of workmanship, engineering, durability, excellence of materials, structural superiority, superiority of personnel, attention to detail, or special services
Performance What does the product do, and how well does it do what it is designed to do in comparison to alternative products?
Components or contents What is the product composed of? What ingredients does it contain? What ancillary items are included with the product?
Availability Where can the product be purchased? When will the product be available for purchase?
Special offers What limited-time non-price deals are available with a particular purchase?
Taste Is evidence presented that the taste of a particular product is perceived as superior in taste by a sample of customers
Nutrition Are specific data given concerning the nutritional content of a particular product, or is a direct specific comparison made with other products?
Package or Shape What package is the product available in which makes it more desirable than alternatives? What special shapes is the product available in?
Guarantees and warranties What post-purchase assurances accompany the product?
Safety What safety features are available on a particular product compared to alternative choices?
Independent research Are results of research gathered by an “independent” research firm presented?
Company research Are data gathered by a company to compare its product with a competitor’s presented?
New ideas Is a totally new concept introduced during the commercial? Are its advantages presented?

Information cue research, such as Weinberger and Spotts (1989) or Maenaka, Miracle and Chang (1991), count either the total or the unique number of information cues presented in commercials.

Clearly, this type of research is far more limited in its approach, as it is more concerned with the product attributes that are displayed, rather than the entire message. It is however quite useful in order to evaluate the “directness” of advertising, and as such can be related more evidently to Hall’s high context/low context concepts, rather than to broader based cultural dimension concepts, such as Hofstede’s dimensions as a whole.

If counting the information cues present in advertising, a large number may suggest a low context society, whereas a low number would possibly suggest a high context culture. However, the number of information cues may equally be related to uncertainty avoidance, as it seems plausible, that in a largely risk averse culture the consumer may want to have more information about a product than in a less risk averse culture, as suggested by Usunier, 1999.

In comparison with Pollay based research, this type of research is not suitable for research into values, however it is far more differentiated in respect to the information content that is provided, and what product attributes are explained explicitly in the commercial message. As such, it provides a more detailed picture of target market consumer expectation than the more general values research, however it provides less opportunity for descriptive advertising context analysis. This is particularly evident, as certain appeals as classified by Pollay are considerably expanded. For example the “effective” appeal is split up in to three Resnick-Stern cues: Quality, performance and taste. The “safety” appeal is repeated in two cues: Guarantees and warranties and safety.

1) http://www.stephweb.com/capstone/t8.shtml

 Prof. C.J.M. Beniers

NL Zoetermeer

11-12-2012

About Professor C.J.M. Beniers

Prof. C.J.M. Beniers is a well known authority in the field of modern and international communication techniques. He developed the Six-Component-Model. This model enables companies, institutions and politicians to communicate and negotiate with counterparts from all over the world successfully. His career began as international manager at Philips and later he earned his doctorate as professor in communication. He has more than 35 years experience as manager and management trainer. Thus he knows both sides – theory and praxis – very well. As scientist, Prof. Beniers conducts frequently research in the field of intercultural communication. The results of his interesting research can be found in news articles, free pod casts, audio books and his E-books such as “Bridging The Cultural Gap.” Here, modern managers learn how to prepare for business meetings with people from different cultures; they acquire the techniques and tools to handle situations in times of crises successfully, master intercultural barriers, country-specific communication patterns, looking into personal cultural values & systems. Knowing all this, men can prevent cultural misunderstandings and misinterpretations – not only in business but also in private life.

Contact:

Prof. C.J.M. Beniers

Amaliaplaats 2
2713 BJ

Zoetermeer

The Netherlands

Telefone: +31 (0) 79 – 3 19  03 81
Mobile:  +31 (0) 6 2 061 8494

Email: info@beniers-consultancy.com

Website: www.beniers-consultancy.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cultural Differences In Television Advertising-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VALUES AND APPEALS 1)

a. Kotler (1997)

He differentiates three different types of appeals:

1. rational appeals,

He classifies rational appeals as “appealing to the audience’s self interest”. Typically they refer to the quality, value or performance of the product.

2. emotional appeals

Emotional appeals “attempt to stir up negative or positive emotions” (ibid.), and include fear, guilt, joy. Although Kotler makes a reference to negative emotions, I would argue, that these are turned into positive appeals in commercials. For example the negative “fear” appeal is used only when the product can actually provide safety.

3. moral appeals.

Finally moral appeals “are directed to the audience’s sense of what is right and proper.”(ibid.) These may include such appeals as ecological appeals and nationalism.

The often interchanging use of appeals and values by some researchers can be explained when looking at the interaction that is necessary between the two:

· Appeals are used to appeal to the values a consumer holds;

· Values are the underlying source of appeals.

b. Wells, Burnett and Moriarty (1995)

They define values and tentatively describe the interaction as: The source for norms [defined as simple rules for behaviour] is our values.

An example of a value is personal security. Possible norms expressing this value range from the bars on the window and double-locked doors in Brooklyn, New York, to unlocked cars and homes in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Values are few in number and are not tied to specific objects or situations. (…) Advertisers often refer to core values when selecting their primary appeals. Burnett and Moriarty (1995): 167.

This extract clarifies this interaction to some extent: Knowing that people value personal safety, and that a product X can enhance the personal safety, advertising for product X may use a safety appeal. So strictly argued, the safety value (or the desire to be safe) is held by the consumer – and the appeal is what is expressed in the advertisement in order to suggest to the consumer that their desired state of personal safety can be enhanced.

The appeal hence represents the underlying value.

c. Hofstede (1994):

This definition of values comes relatively close to the definition of values given by Hofstede (1994): Values are broad tendencies to prefer certain states of affairs over others.

To continue the above example: The advertising for product X, appealing for enhanced personal safety, displays a preference for a state of safety. And as such can be interpreted as displaying the preference for the state of enhanced personal safety (or in other words: the value of personal safety). Hence, if an advertisement displays a happy family, it can be understood to use the family appeal to represent family values.

In order to avoid any further confusion of the situation, for the remainder of this document:

We will refer to “appeals” as the values that are expressed in advertising, by using appeals, or the appeals that are displayed in advertising representing certain values. We will use values strictly when this represents a tendency to prefer certain states of affairs over others by human beings in the real world.

d. Pollay (1986)

The use of appeals, and with them the possibility of a distorted representation of reality, has been a topic of discussion for a considerable time. In 1983 Pollay published a coding framework for the identification of cultural appeals (actually, he called them values) in advertising, primarily as a response to the discussion over the cultural consequences of advertising appeals and what values of society these reflect.

By reviewing a variety of advertising related literature, as well as literature and values research in other disciplines, such as psychology, sociology and the humanities, Pollay created a list of 42 appeals most commonly found in advertising. He notes, that advertising does reflect a somewhat different set of values as can be found in a society in general (Pollay, 1986), a notion which he termed the “distorted mirror”, and which has lead to a significant debate over the subject matter. Clearly, advertising will attempt to have positive appeals associated with the product, and hence lead to a distorted reflection of reality. Although Kotler (1997) includes negative appeals, such as fear or guilt, in his examples, these will normally be turned “positive” in advertising, and are included as such in the Pollay list: For example the fear of an accident is resolved by demonstrating the safety features of a car (safety appeal).

Other researchers who carried out research into advertising appeals have developed different lists of possible values, often because they only tested for certain appeals rather than a complete set of appeals. For example Mueller (1996) and Cheng & Schweitzer (1996) used limited lists developed by them to reflect their line of enquiry. However, both take their definitions from Pollay’s original work.

As such, Pollay’s framework is the most complete set of possible appeals with definitions. It is also “pre-tested” as it is derived from previously published material, and is generally considered to be complete. As such may be the most suitable instrument both for probing a complete set of appeals, if used as a whole, or a limited set of appeals, if used in parts.

Clearly, in order to be effective, advertising has to appeal to the positive values that are held in the target group, or taken at large, the target society. If advertising is “out of touch” with the target group, it may alienate the target group, as the consumer can no longer identify with the product.

It is hence essential for the advertising to reflect at least a proportion of the values held by the target group, or society at large.

As Hofstede and others have demonstrated, values can vary considerably between cultures.

Some cultures may be comfortable with a relatively high level of uncertainty – if expressed in appeals, then it can be expected that advertising in these cultures will make less use of safety appeals than advertising from a culture where the culture is less comfortable with uncertainty.

Equally, in a society that holds highly individualistic values, it can be expected that advertising in general will use more appeals to individual achievement than in a society that holds dominantly collectivist values.

As such, advertising appeals are not a mere representation of a culture’s values at large, but they represent a selective sample of positive and desired values of that culture. They are in fact a “distorted mirror”, a mirror that represents idealistic, rather than realistic, values.

1) http://www.stephweb.com/capstone/t8.shtml

Prof. C.J.M. Beniers

NL Zoetermeer

22-11-2011

About Professor C.J.M. Beniers

Prof. C.J.M. Beniers is a well known authority in the field of modern and international communication techniques. He developed the Six-Component-Model. This model enables companies, institutions and politicians to communicate and negotiate with counterparts from all over the world successfully. His career began as international manager at Philips and later he earned his doctorate as professor in communication. He has more than 35 years experience as manager and management trainer. Thus he knows both sides – theory and praxis – very well. As scientist, Prof. Beniers conducts frequently research in the field of intercultural communication. The results of his interesting research can be found in news articles, free pod casts, audio books and his E-books such as “Bridging The Cultural Gap.” Here, modern managers learn how to prepare for business meetings with people from different cultures; they acquire the techniques and tools to handle situations in times of crises successfully, master intercultural barriers, country-specific communication patterns, looking into personal cultural values & systems. Knowing all this, men can prevent cultural misunderstandings and misinterpretations – not only in business but also in private life.

Contact:

Prof. C.J.M. Beniers
Amaliaplaats 2
2713 BJ Zoetermeer
The Netherlands

Telefone: +31 (0) 79 – 3 19  03 81
Mobile:  +31 (0) 6 2 061 8494

Email: info@beniers-consultancy.com

Website: www.beniers-consultancy.com

 

 

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Cultural Differences In Television Advertising-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cultural Differences in television advertising (2)

 VALUES, APPEALS, CONTENT AND STYLE 1)

In researching advertising across borders a number of terms are used to describe WHAT is said in a commercial or HOW things are said in a commercial. All of this type of research focuses primarily on the message of advertising, taking both the visual and the audible component into account. Most researchers have paid little interest in execution or objectives, which may influence the advertising message. Both execution and objectives are taken a priori as being equal across countries. This limitation should be clearly pointed out, as it may account for some of the differences observed.

I have divided four main areas of research, with all overlapping or influencing each other to some extent:

· Appeals (values) research, looking primarily at all or some of the advertising appeals used in commercials.

· Information cues research, trying to identify the amount and type of information that is presented, usually about a product, in a commercial.

· Communication strategy research

· Creative strategy research, looking at the actual advertising, communication or creative strategy, or parts thereof, used in a commercial.

Frequently researchers have combined certain areas. For example, Mueller (1996) in her study about beer advertising in the UK and the US looked for selected appeals as well as some communication styles in commercials.

The terms “appeals” and “values” are used loosely in the literature to describe the traditional notion of “advertising appeals”. In their textbook “Advertising – Principles and Practice”, Wells, Burnett and Moriarty (1995) give the following description of appeals:

Persuasion in advertising rests on the psychological appeal to the consumer. An appeal is something that makes the product particularly attractive or interesting to the consumer. Common appeals are security, esteem, fear, sex, and sensory pleasure. Appeals generally pinpoint the anticipated response of the prospect to the product and message. Advertisers also use the word appeal to describe a general creative emphasis. For example, if the price is emphasised in the ad, then the appeal is value, economy, or savings. Wells, Burnett and Moriarty (1995): 278.

1. As this definition suggests, appeals make the product attractive to the consumer, and are hence emphasised in advertising for the product.

2. However, they do not necessarily represent product attributes, nor do they have to be realistically connected to the product at all.

3. De facto they are often used to set a desired atmosphere or as a means to “connect” with the target group.

4. As such, they are “built” into the commercial and designed to represent the supposed values of the desired target group.

For example, a product that has housewives as a target group may show, as an appeal, pictures of a happy family – which is thought to represent a value of the target group, or at least a desired state. Also, for example beer in itself has little sex appeal – however this appeal is frequently used in beer advertising (Dahl, 2000). The combination of “sex appeal”, displayed in the advertising connected to the consumption of that particular brand of beer, may however make the product attractive to the potential consumer, as it may represent a widely held value in the target group. Connected to the product, this may make the product more appealing to the target group.

Clearly, not everybody will have the same values, and the appeals that are used do not necessarily actually appeal to all consumers – even within the target group.

However, they usually are chosen to represent values thought to be held by the target group as a whole.

The advertiser aims to link the set of appeals used in the commercial with the product in the mind of the consumer, in order to enhance and position the product, the product image and perception. They are used strategically to influence consumer perception of the product (such as drinking beer = success with women) and hence to increase consumer readiness to purchase – or product appeal. Understood as such, they can be regarded as an active part in positioning the product in the market place and enhance the product’s image, by associating desirable aspects to the product.

1) http://www.stephweb.com/capstone/t8.shtml

Prof. C.J.M. Beniers

NL Zoetermeer

25-10-2012

About Professor C.J.M. Beniers

Prof. C.J.M. Beniers is a well known authority in the field of modern and international communication techniques. He developed the Six-Component-Model. This model enables companies, institutions and politicians to communicate and negotiate with counterparts from all over the world successfully. His career began as international manager at Philips and later he earned his doctorate as professor in communication. He has more than 35 years experience as manager and management trainer. Thus he knows both sides – theory and praxis – very well. As scientist, Prof. Beniers conducts frequently research in the field of intercultural communication. The results of his interesting research can be found in news articles, free pod casts, audio books and his E-books such as “Bridging The Cultural Gap.” Here, modern managers learn how to prepare for business meetings with people from different cultures; they acquire the techniques and tools to handle situations in times of crises successfully, master intercultural barriers, country-specific communication patterns, looking into personal cultural values & systems. Knowing all this, men can prevent cultural misunderstandings and misinterpretations – not only in business but also in private life.

Contact:


Prof. C.J.M. Beniers

Amaliaplaats 2

2713 BJ Zoetermeer
The Netherlands

Telefone: +31 (0) 79 – 3 19  03 81

Mobile:  +31 (0) 6 36180834

Email: info@beniers-consultancy.com

Website: www.beniers-consultancy.com

 

Cultural Differences In Television Advertising-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cultural differences in television advertising (1)

1. Introduction

Is it possible to persuade consumers in different markets with the same advertising message? Will they respond favourably? Or should the advertising message be customised to reflect local culture? This question is one of the most fundamental decisions when planning an advertising campaign in different cultural areas, and, not surprisingly, one of the most frequently discussed issues in advertising today. Whereas many anecdotes tell the story of failed, or misunderstood, advertising, little clarity exists what exactly makes advertising different from country to country, and what types of appeals are used to promote different products in different markets – if there should be any difference whatsoever.

One side in this debate emphasises that the world is growing ever closer, and that the world can be treated as one large market, with only superficial differences in values (Levitt, 1983). In their view, advertising and marketing can be standardised across cultures, and the same values can be used to persuade customers to buy or consume the product. The opposing side is content with the fact that the basic needs may well be the same around the world, however they argue that the way in which these needs are met and satisfied differs from culture to culture. Any marketing (and advertising) campaign should, in their view, reflect the local habits, lifestyles and economical conditions in order to be effective. In 1985, Woods et al. concluded in a study of consumer purpose in purchase in the US, Quebec and Korea, that “important differences are found in the reasons why they [the consumers] purchase products familiar to all three countries”.

Many researchers have contributed to the debate, examining a sample of advertising for particular ways of portraying lifestyle and themes used (Gilly, 1990; Tansey, Hyman & Zinkhan, 1990); advertising strategies and information content (Lin, 1993; Zandpour, Chang & Catalano 1992; Ramaprasad & Hasegawa, 1992), the use of humour (Weinberger & Spotts, 1989; Alden, Hower & Lee, 1992), Americanisation of appeals used (Wiles, Wiles & Tjernlund, 1996; Mueller 1992) or they tested for a mix of different themes, styles, appeals or advertising content. These studies, among others, and the magnitude of their findings have put significant doubt over the theories and applicability of standardised, global advertising. They clearly suggest to localise advertising messages to suit consumer expectation in each market (Albers-Miller, 1996b).

However, the degree of difference in advertising strategies and appeals used may well be very different not only from country to country, but also from product category to product category. As Zandpour, Chang and Catalano (1992) and Katz and Lee (1992) have pointed out, information content, creative strategy, format and content style differ with each product category.

2. Conceptual Background & Definitions

Ad creation, pre market testing and localisation

Advertising creation can vary enormously from one company promoting their products or services across borders to another company. Whereas real economic benefits, dominantly economies of scale, can be obtained by standardising advertising across borders, many companies choose not to do so, but rather to rely on local knowledge.

In order to create a commercial, an advertising agency is usually instructed to create the overall concept in line with the marketing objectives, create a set of different test commercials and pre-test the commercials for effectiveness. This is a crucial step for advertising creation, and often takes a relatively long time, in which the test commercials are tested qualitatively and quantitatively in focus groups, through questionnaires, in test markets, sample areas and so on. After successful testing, the real commercial is created, and finally airtime for the commercial is booked or auctioned (either directly or through a media agency). During and after the commercial is running, further tests are usually carried out in order to optimise advertising targets with real out comes, and commercials may be adjusted depending on the outcome.

In a survey of the Fortune 500 US-based multinational companies, Hite and Fraser (1988) reported, that – - 50% of these companies used a foreign (i.e. local to the market) agency for their advertising; – 21% used an international agency or network (i.e. an angency that maintained local offices in the target market); – 18% used a foreign affiliates of an in-house-agency.

In the same report, Hite and Fraser also observe a steep decline in the trend to use the same advertising (standardised advertising) in different markets. Earlier reports (Sorenson and Wiechmann, 1975; Boddewya, Soehl and Picard, 1986) reported that in 1975 only 20% of multinational companies utilised localised versions of their advertising, in 1986 the figure reported had grown to 39%. In their own survey, Hite and Fraser (1988) reported, that

- 36% of companies that advertise across borders use localised advertising, and that

- a further 56% use a combination strategy (such as the same images, different text).

- Only 8% used standardised advertising across borders.

They also reported, that

- 95% of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed to change the language of their advertising depending on the target market,

- 59% the product attributes, 69% the models, 58% the scenic background and

- 31% the colours used. When carefully observed, this trend holds true for a large amount of European advertising.

- A number of companies use completely different commercials in the UK, the Netherlands and/or Germany, such as the German brands Müller and Holsten Pils.

- In Germany Müller’s commercials focus on the health benefits, whereas in the UK the commercials emphasise the taste of the yoghurt. Holsten’s German advertising features friendship and achievement set on a sailing boat at sea,

- whereas the UK advertising is a Monty Python style sketch set in a bar.

- Other commercials use the same images, but change the text completely: such as Max factor’s commercials featuring Madonna.

- In the UK, Madonna talks about how superficial life as a superstar is, and the lipstick is a mean used to seduce an attractive co-actor.

- In Germany, Madonna talks about how important it is to look good even in a kissing scene, and there is little evidence of intended seduction of the co-actor at all.

1) http://www.stephweb.com/capstone/t8.shtml

Prof. C.J.M. Beniers

NL Zoetermeer

08-10-2012

About Professor C.J.M. Beniers

Prof. C.J.M. Beniers is a well known authority in the field of modern and international communication techniques. He developed the Six-Component-Model. This model enables companies, institutions and politicians to communicate and negotiate with counterparts from all over the world successfully. His career began as international manager at Philips and later he earned his doctorate as professor in communication. He has more than 35 years experience as manager and management trainer. Thus he knows both sides – theory and praxis – very well. As scientist, Prof. Beniers conducts frequently research in the field of intercultural communication. The results of his interesting research can be found in news articles, free pod casts, audio books and his E-books such as “Bridging The Cultural Gap.” Here, modern managers learn how to prepare for business meetings with people from different cultures; they acquire the techniques and tools to handle situations in times of crises successfully, master intercultural barriers, country-specific communication patterns, looking into personal cultural values & systems. Knowing all this, men can prevent cultural misunderstandings and misinterpretations – not only in business but also in private life.

Contact:


Prof. C.J.M. Beniers

Amaliaplaats 2

2713 BJ Zoetermeer
The Netherlands

Telefone: +31 (0) 79 – 3 19  03 81

Mobile:  +31 (0) 6 36180834

Email: info@beniers-consultancy.com

Website: www.beniers-consultancy.com

 

 

 

 

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