OBSERVATIONS: The Influence of Culture on American and British Advertising: An Exploratory Comparison of Beer Advertising

Zahna Caillat and Barbara Mueller

One of the most important strategic decisions an international advertiser must make when designing advertising campaigns destined for foreign countries is whether to standardize advertising worldwide or to specialize it for each market or region to be entered. Scholars and practitioners alike are divided regarding the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. This debate carries a variety of labels: Standardized campaigns are also referred to as globalized and universal in the literature; specialized campaigns are called localized, adapted and even customized.

An increasing number of advertising and marketing executives agree with Theodore Levitt that the needs and desires of consumers around the world are growing ever more homogenized. They contend that the world is one large market and that regional, national, and even international differences are at most superficial. Therefore, the consumer may well be satisfied with similar products and services. Levitt went on to note that not only would multinational consumers be satisfied with similar products, but that advertisers could sell them with similar messages (1983). Narrowly defined, standardized advertising refers to messages which are used internationally with virtually no change in theme, illustration, or copy - except perhaps for translation, where needed.