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The Handbook of International Advertising Research by Hong Cheng

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14

Cultural Messages in International Advertisements

Yuan Zhang

Introduction

Perhaps one of the most prominently studied topics in international advertising research is cultural messages (e.g., manifest cultural values, cultural themes, and cultural appeals) as part of advertising content (Gelbrich & Roschk, 2008). According to a recent review of cross-cultural advertising research from 1995 to 2006, the most studied area was cultural values (37%) and the most widely used research method was content analysis (35%) (Okazaki & Mueller, 2007). This finding is not surprising, given an ever-increasing scholarly interest over the decades in the interactive dynamics between culture and advertising – that is, how advertising plays the dual role of reflecting culture and potentially shaping cultural change at the same time (Zhang & Shavitt, 2003). From a practical viewpoint, globalization of the world economy and commerce has put international marketing communication at the top of managerial agenda. Understanding cultural messages in advertising, from host markets as well as from a comparative perspective, is crucial for firms that strive to survive and thrive in a globalized economy.

Since the publication of Richard Pollay’s (1983) seminal work on manifest cultural values in advertising, much empirical work has been done to examine cultural messages and especially cultural values in advertising in a variety of historical, cultural, and media contexts. However, a comprehensive review of this ...

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