Purpose – The purpose of this research is to study creative strategy and execution as opposed to all elements of marketing and advertising standardization. It explores the standardization model (e.g. global, glocal, local, and single case strategy) by examining the international advertising strategies that multinational corporations (MNCs) from North America, Europe, and Asia used in their advertising campaigns targeting two culturally different markets: the United States and China. Design/methodology/approach – A content analysis of 210 print advertisements compares the extent of standardization in creative strategy and execution across product country of origin (Japan, Korea, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States). Western versus non‐Western cultural cues are also coded and examined. Findings – Overall, MNCs are more likely to adopt the glocal strategy than any other strategies in their international campaigns. Specifically, EU‐based MNCs tend to pursue the global strategy, whereas the North America‐based MNCs seem to favor the glocal strategy and Asia‐based MNCs tend to use local strategy. Western and non‐Western cultural values are found to manifest in the American and Chinese ads similarly, indicating a trend of increasing similarity in international advertising in face of global consumer culture. Research limitations/implications – The results of this content analysis provide a fuller picture in understanding the long‐standing issues of standardization in international advertising because of an approach to analyze creative strategy separately from execution. However, content analysis is inherently limited in inferring causality between observed patterns and mechanisms/variables that account for the patterns. Also, the time frame for sample selection, which is set as a year prior to the 2008 global financial crisis, is another limitation of the study. Practical implications – There is an ongoing trend of using “one‐creative, multiple‐execution” strategy in international advertising. MNCs may distinguish advertising creative strategy from execution when developing their international advertising campaigns. Originality/value – First, this study addresses the issue with a clear conceptual definition of standardization and differentiates the strategic and tactic standardization. Second, this is the first attempt to explore the standardization model using a sample of 51 multinational brands from North America, Europe, and Asia. The authors find that MNCs are practicing some standardization advertising strategy, but to varying degrees. Third, this study identifies and empirically tests two external factors – culture and convergence of external markets – that influence standardization.
International Marketing Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 26, 2012
Keywords: Advertising standardization; Global consumer culture positioning; Global marketing strategy; Culture; Market convergence; MNCs; Advertising; Multinational companies; United States of America; Europe; Asia; China
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