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TRANSNATIONAL ADVERTISING CULTURE

Posted on: 2010/01/13

Transnational culture is a direct outcome of the internationalization of production and accumulation promoted through standardized development models and cultural forms.[1] Supermarkets, shopping moles, credit cards, Hollywood production and other American dreams give us the feeling of being at home. You do not need to change the place, e. g. if you are Lithuanian you can buy H&M, read Vogue, watch The sex and the city, listen to the American idols, etc. Globalization era gave us global opportunities to buy, to get, to watch, to eat, etc. These actions are consumption. So, one of the main point of globalization is to create transnational needs and to sell them. The role of media and advertising, consumerism also increases in the era of globalization.  What is new? The market is not local anymore. It is semi open and you can sell for any consumer in the entire world.  However, diverse of cultures could make this process very difficult. Globalization is integrating not just trade, investment and financial markets. It is also integrating consumer markets. Economically, there is fierce competition to sell to consumers worldwide, with increasingly aggressive advertising.[2]

Now we are going to discuss about the transnational advertising culture. The aim is to find out how transnational advertising works and what process it is. Case analysis method is content analysis. The object of the case analysis is images of the Head & Shoulders transnational advertising. Issues:  sometimes advertisers can not to create the one valuable image and to sell it worldwide

How to sell the dream?

‘To sell the dream’ is the most important thing in global marketing. Why the dream? Transnational organizations are playing with consumer’s the ‘watching’, ‘dreaming’, ‘buying’ game. Firstly, they want us to see the product, after to dream about it and, finally, to buy it. If the organization has the aim to sell it worldwide it must think about transnational advertising. How to sell American dream for Europeans or Asians? How to sell American Barbie to Japanese or Taiwan girl? How to sell the Japanese watermelon for 100 $ for American tourist? These questions could be answered – to make it valuable. How? The best way to do this is to create the valuable image and to addict consumer with it.

Nowadays joy and happiness are perfumes and love, caring and hope are cosmetics[3] for the most of women in all over the world, e. g. let’s look at slogans: ‘Because I’m worth it’ (L’Oréal’s), ‘adding beauty to care’ (Nivea), ‘Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline’, etc. Moreover, have a look at the names of fragrances, e. g. DKNY ‘Be Delicious’, ‘Miss Dior Cherie’, etc. Companies are selling not production, but the feeling of being delicious, worth it, adding beauty, etc. Companies are not selling just mascara, eye shadows or perfume.  They are creating images of consumption, which gives us values. How it works? “MTV, Western news and movie channels, and other Western media influences spreading across Asia. The cultural heritage of these countries is being threatened by trans border data flow, media images moving across national borders thanks to new electronic forms of media delivery. People are told they need products they never “realized” they required. They are told via media that Western styles and habits may be better or more desirable than their own traditions and customs. Young people in particular now grow up with stronger ties to New York and Los Angeles than their own capitals and families”.[4] Media is strong power to spread the message for consumers about production and services they never realized they required. If it is valuable and worth full consumers will buy it. What to do if it is the new product in the global market? How to make people want it? The answer is to create values.

Creating transnational values

To create transnational values the ‘economy’-‘culture’-‘media’ model should be used. Firstly, the main aim of economic side is to show us ‘Culture of Addiction’ and after to sell the addiction to us (consumers). Social media is great example of this: Facebook – it is new, fashionable, it makes us happy and gives opportunity to participate, we all can succeed, get the value and satisfaction, etc. It is global and lots of consumers are addicted with it. How it happened? They made transnational values: communication and participation effect are the main values and addiction. It gives strong feeling of being successful for consumer and makes him happy. He does not need to get out from the comfortable home (his place) to be succeeding. He needs only to log in on Facebook and to participate. What we need more? It takes 50 years for radio to reach 50 million users, TV – 13 years, internet – 4, IPod – 3 and Facebook less than 9 months to reach more than 100 million users. Congratulations for Facebook team – they really know what worldwide consumer needs. Is it revolution of the globalization? Does it really work worldwide? Let’s think why Facebook has more 70 languages? It is adaptation for each culture. What about advertising on Facebook? It is even more global than in ‘old media’. Social media gives real time, target of global consumers, creates values and gives participation for both – consumer and seller. However there are lots of opinions about it, but for the most of companies it works. So, the movement is toward grabbing attention and creating a desire for things that people never knew was needed. It also is about using the media to homogenize culture. MTV is another example. Here we have entertainment programming which doubles as a continuous commercial for music CDs, clothing lines, talk shows involving music personalities, and a variety of other marketing ploys.[5] Cultural programming using human technologies and media have strong power to sell.

Do we really sell transnational values?

Can we say that culture in the transnational advertising is the main point? Why? Organizations are selling products for consumers, which are from different cultures. So, if they want to sell the product they should sell the culture. How it works we are going to discuss in the other part of this topic. Do we have worldwide culture? Maybe Coca Cola could say ‘yes, we have worldwide drinking culture’ and Mc Donald’s –‘eating culture’, but what about the rest of companies? Consumer culture and identity helps advertisers to sell. Why? Let’s take an example, advertising of skin-lightening products persuades the African women to be ashamed of their own color and try to be white[6]. So, their racial identity is one of the most powerful weapons available for safeguarding their human identity. It works the same with hair straightener. “Dear, curly girl, companies are selling image of you with straight hair” – about it you were dreaming so long and now your dream can became the truth. Is it not the dream selling? So, culture and images are very important.

Economy, culture and images should have a channel to reach the global consumer. Media has very strong power. Even new media is more global and organizations can send message via it worldwide. “The new global culture is the expression of deterritorialisation and a borderless world. Operating through the logic of late capitalism, it can be seen as the creation of powerful media empires and transnational companies with a culture of consumption or the capitalist agenda as one of the primary signifiers of the era of globalization.”[7] There are any boundaries, place and time regulations for culture of consumption to reach consumers worldwide via semi open new media. “Designing a global advertising message enables to maximize audience reach among different peoples with diverse cultures. The problem is that homogenized or broad appeal message often fail to consider the impact on local cultures. Transnational advertising promotes consumer demand for Western products and lifestyles, regardless of the real-life needs and wants of local culture. The issue becomes especially problematic when product being advertised is hazardous or inappropriate for local consumption.”[8] However, “on the social side local and national boundaries are breaking down in the setting of social standards and aspirations in consumption. Market research identifies “global elites” and “global middle classes” who follow the same consumption styles, showing preferences for “global brands”. There are the “global teens” — some 270 million 15—to 18-year-olds in 40 countries — inhabiting a “global space”, a single pop-culture world, soaking up the same videos and music and providing a huge market for designer running shoes, t-shirts and jeans.”[9]

How media works?

How media is used in this process of selling worldwide? “The term media imperialism is closely associated with homogenization of culture. Traditional discussions concerning media imperialism are usually related to one country’s ability to export and influence another country through its media products and services. Transnational products typically showcase products such as soap, cosmetics, tobacco, processed foods, and drinks – items far removed from the basic and unfilled needs for clothing, housing, and food. Transnational advertising is perceived to be a threat to developing countries because it is culturally laden and has the potential to influence social values and economics priorities”.[10]

As far as we can see, transnational advertising could be the system of:

  • Creating the valuable cultural image for consumers.
  • Addicting consumers with that image trough the media.
  • Selling that cultural image (to make consumer buy your item).

How to create transnational value for a global consumer? Is it enough to create the international image? Can we sell ‘Christmas’ as a value, like Coco Cola does?

To sum up,transnational advertising could be called as cultural programming. Advertisers are coding cultural images to addict us with the item. Item is transformed to the valuable image. All these ideas and cultural programming is done via media. Especially, new media is semi open platform for advertising. Place and time are not the issue for transnational advertising now. Images and culture can reach the consumer through the media every single second. Global consumer is the target of culture and culture is the image of the selling dream – item. The main point of transnational advertising is to create values and addict people to valuable image.

Once again it is proved – think globally, act locally.


[1] Noreene Janus, Cloning the Consumer Culture, via interet: http://www.medialit.org/reading_room/article219.html

[2] The United Nations Development Program’s 1998 Human Development Report,via internet: http://www.globalissues.org/article/160/media-and-advertising

[3]John Kavanaugh, Idols of the Marketplace, via Internet: http://www.medialit.org/reading_room/article218.html

[4] Anup Shah, Media and Advertising: via Internet: http://www.globalissues.org/article/160/media-and-advertising

[5] Anup Shah, Media and Advertising: via Internet: http://www.globalissues.org/article/160/media-and-advertising

[6]The example is taken  Noreene Janus, Cloning the Consumer Culture, via interet: http://www.medialit.org/reading_room/article219.html

[7] Sangeeta Rao , “Other”wise?: The Selling of Global Cultural Difference: via Internet: http://www.proxsa.org/resources/sanskriti/vol7/srao.html

[8]Richard A. Gerson: The transnational Media corporation – Global Messages and Free Competition. 1996.

[9] Anup Shah, Media and Advertising: via Internet: http://www.globalissues.org/article/160/media-and-advertising

[10]Richard A. Gerson: The transnational Media corporation – Global Messages and Free Competition. 1996.

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