By students, for students.

Global Marketing Management: One world, one voice? (part 6)

In Management, Marketing on March 24, 2013 at 5:35 pm

External conditions required for standardised advertising

country life

Integration of consumer habits

It seems as though we are far from living in a global village: nations retain individual economic and cultural norms. Computer-mediated and networked communications specialists, Van Alstyne and Brynjolfsson propose ‘Balkanisation’ as an alternative effect of the globalising technologies which have connected 25% of the world to the internet (2005). ‘Cyber-Balkanisation’ describes the groups which form through the internet, based on interest rather than geography. Balkanisation is a useful concept for advertisers seeking an international audience bound by consumer behaviour. Standardised advertising has been successfully used to appeal to wealthy elites and cosmopolitans of all nationalities.

Elites’ interaction with global fashion, food and entertainment can be explained as status positioning (Domzal and Kernan, 1993). The wealthiest members of a geographic community seek membership of a global ‘club’ through ownership of Cartier jewellery, Vuitton luggage and Hermes suits. This segment is being nurtured in developing economies. Efforts to encourage Asian middle classes to embrace LVMH’s European sophistication have taken off in recent years. In 2011, they accounted for 27% of total sales (Economist, 2011).

Additionally, a younger generation is maturing within a relatively globalised world, familiar with the postmodern dissolution of cultural values and indigenous ‘truths’. ‘Digital natives’ can freely explore and be influenced by global trends (BBC, 2009).


Adverts which successfully translated across cultures to appeal to postmodern shoppers are more reliant on fantasy and lifestyle formats than cultural references, used the evocation of emotion rather than precise messages and used concrete representations of the product rather than metaphor (Domzal and Kernan, 1993). John Lyndon’s TV spot for Country Life is constructed from English stereotypes and requires knowledge of his Sex Pistols past. Alternately, the Lego advert requires no translation.


Standardising advertising across cultures reduces costs and has the potential to add value if multinationals are willing to adapt strategically and structurally. However, neither standardised advertising nor neat definitions of local taste can be universally applied.

While regional trade has grouped national economies providing opportunities for ads to ‘travel’, cultural barriers remain. Successful advertising targets audiences capable of appropriately decoding communications: different histories, associations and values interfere with this. However, market segments can be defined by qualities apart from nationally-specific traits. Elite and postmodern audiences engage with global trends.

The world is not a global village. It is divided by stages of economic development, cultural notions, local tastes and consumer behaviours. However, people simultaneously occupy several cultures and though national norms might close one ear, cosmopolitanism may open the other. With careful targeting, advertising may be standardised across cultures.


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