Why More Companies do not Standardize Advertising Messages

Why More Companies do not Standardize Advertising Messages Worldwide

The business has become highly internationalized in the last decades, and this swift development has been triggered by technological advancement, liberalization of trade strategies, and escalated international competition. Advertising denotes paid communication that uses mass media to persuade or influence an audience (Elina et al. 2). It is one of the essential tools for communicating with an international audience, and the standardization of advertising messages means employment of the same message for each market a firm enters with just a few changes or translating the information into another language. The discussion on standardization is centered on whether firms should standardize advertising messages. Since the preferences of different markets differ, companies should adjust their advertising strategies to fit the special dimensions of every local market rather than using a standardized approach.

Many corporations do not standardize advertising messages worldwide because consumer nondurables, which include food products, are easily affected by disparities in national tastes and habits. Therefore, these products require changes to meet the needs of various markets. Although the standardization strategy may increase an organization’s performance, the case only applies to firms in which competition occurs in a global range, for example, perfumes, electronics, and luxury goods. In such cases, the same products may be sold in all markets. Companies do not also agree with the assumption that standardization leads to considerable cost reductions. Centralization is beneficial only when there are potential cost savings from economies of scale, hindrances to standardization are few, and products meet the same needs or wants.

Firms understand that cultural differences among nations are an important factor to consider when developing a global advertising campaign. Other significant elements are countries’ economic and industrial development stages, media availability, and legal restrictions, among others (Nasir and Altinbasak 17). Thus, many corporations prefer using separate messages to reach customers in different markets by ensuring that the information fits each particular nation.

Organizations have realized that attributes related to products influence the buyers’ behavior differently across the world. Although product features and functions are mostly the same in different nations, the perception of these features differs from country to country (Wang and Yang 28). Therefore, a standard way of advertising may not be appropriate as the common needs of individuals that belong to different states do not imply that the same commodities will be acknowledged similarly.

The Environmental Constraints That Act as Barriers to the Development and Implementation of Standardized Global Advertising Campaigns

Social Cultural Differences. Each country has a different culture and therefore needs a different advertising strategy. This factor hinders many corporations from developing standardized global advertising campaigns due to many issues involved. It is difficult to create advertising messages that fit the beliefs and traditions of each nation’s citizens. A technique that is effective for one state may not be in another; thus, the right approaches and tools should be employed to prevent failure. The challenge that arises from cultural diversity is not knowing about different cultures as many organizations do not fully understand all cultures across the world.

Cultural diversity creates obstacles as companies normally overgeneralize advertising methods and tactics. Advertisers believe that effective marketing strategies may be applied to many nations, which may result in failure. For example, if a commodity has a naked picture on the package, it can be accepted in the western states but condemned in Muslim society. Therefore, corporations should adapt well to the local markets if they wish to succeed.

Culture is a difficult issue for the majority of advertisers as it is inherently indefinite and usually hard to comprehend. A company can violate another nation’s cultural norms unknowingly. Communication is also challenging since cultural factors greatly influence the way numerous phenomena are discerned. For example, the perception of a message varies if the perceptual framework is different. A country’s culture affects the consumers’ preferences, and customers are sensitive about cultural elements portrayed in advertisements.

Though cultural differences are hard to measure, there are various cultural universals (elements common to all cultures) where certain items are widely acknowledged as vital components of culture. These elements include different languages and dialects, religious differences, and ethnic groups or races (Kaynak and Hassan 198). The cultural elements that each company should consider when moving to international markets include values, beliefs, religion, symbols, thoughts, processes, and traditions (Athapaththu 180). Individuals are not born with culture but are born into a society where they can learn and develop particular cultural traits, faith, and beliefs (Tantawy and George 248). Thus, culture greatly influences people’s lives from birth to death. The perspective nature of culture is crucial to an advertiser, and they should focus on it.

An advertising firm should not imagine that individuals cannot worry about their cultures due to an advertisement of a commodity that simplifies their lives. All cultural elements should be considered when developing an advertisement as failure to do so may cause the message to communicate an idea not intended (Meyer and Bernier 8). For instance, if a man and a woman standing too close to each other in an advertisement, it might unintentionally convey something sexual to a community. Body language can have different messages from nation to nation. Thus, a native’s acknowledgment of the message is crucial; otherwise, unanticipated results might arise.

Advertising should convince clients that the characteristics of a product or service satisfy consumer needs and wants. The advertisement message is also supposed to coincide with every cultural norm. Thus, companies are required to consult marketing specialists to create global advertising campaigns that ensure the attainment of the organizational objective and adjust them according to the marketplace. An effective advertising strategy should connect all the cultures, which include local and international cultures, business, social, and political cultures (Athapaththu 179). An advertising approach that disregards cultural differences might negatively affect a business. Aspects of culture, such as religion, attitudes, and social conditions, influence the way people view their environment and understand signals and symbols. Thus, the employment of color in advertising should consider cultural norms. For example, many Asian nations associate white with grief (Svend and Oliver 373). Therefore, a commercial for a detergent where whiteness is stressed would have to be changed for marketing activities in India.

International advertising is a process that brings a product to the global market and should be complex and well organized to create and communicate an idea to various cultures. Companies should be cautious when operating internationally and should not underrate the influence of culture on their advertising campaigns (Athapaththu 179). Various market segments or targeted audiences can have their set of needs, desires, wants, and tastes. Thus, all these elements should be examined when planning for advertising.

Economic Conditions. A country’s economic conditions influence the advertising strategies to use. Unlike industrialized nations, the developing states may have radios but lack television sets, which can make it challenging to develop and implement standardized advertising messages (Svend and Oliver 373). Moreover, what customers consider to be luxuries and necessities vary among nations, which affects the advertising messages to be employed.

Legal and Regulatory Conditions. Local advertising rules and industry codes directly affect the choice of media and content of promotion material. Various governments have strict rules on content, language, and sexism in advertising (Svend and Oliver 374). Besides, the kind of product that can be advertised is regulated. For instance, tobacco products and alcoholic beverages are excessively regulated commodities with regard to advertising. Regulations exist more in industrialized nations than in developing countries where the advertising sector is not advanced.

An advertiser should keenly observe a nation’s legal system to successfully organize the advertising campaign. Thus, corporations should consult professional legal consultants to acquire adequate legal knowledge regarding a state’s legal system prior to entering into the nation (Athapaththu 179). Besides, an advertiser should learn about the advertising of certain commodities and the countries’ prohibitions on advertising products. For instance, pharmaceutical advertisements are banned in many nations. Because laws controlling the comparative advertisements vary from one nation to another, only a few of the nations utilize them to subvert rivals (Athapaththu 180). Some nations limit foreign countries’ access to the media, and this measure causes major challenges to international advertising. Hence, such a complex set of rules of a country’s legal system should be deeply observed to avoid unnecessary situations in advertising campaigns.

Competition. Since competitors differ from nation to nation with regard to number, type, size, and promotional approaches employed, an organization can be forced to adapt its promotional tactic and the timing of its efforts to the local environment.  The intensity of competition determines the amount corporations should spend on standardized advertising, its frequency, and the approach to be used. This limitation discourages corporations from embracing standardized global advertising campaigns.

Media Obstacles. Media can weaken the function of advertising in the promotional plan and may compel marketers to stress the other elements of the promotional mix. For example, when a television advert is restricted to a few showings a year with no two exposures closer than 10 days, a marketer’s creativity becomes challenged. Media-related restrictions normally hinder companies from offering standardized campaigns. For instance, in Germany, commercial television advertising is restricted to 20 minutes per day in blocks of 5 to 7 minutes between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. (Kaynak and Hassan 198). Besides, advertising-specific guidelines also influence multinational advertising firms as the regulations endeavor to safeguard consumers from deceptive advertising or shield advertisers from unjust competitive practices (Kaynak and Hassan 199). This factor is more common in developed countries than in developing nations where controls are well established.

Although global media exists, markets experience local media limitations, which are unique to each market. The media limitation challenge can be just perceived as the lack of quality materials for printing advertising messages, or it can become more serious, for example, the absence of printing presses or media stations. Media landscapes in global markets may cause other forms of messaging to be employed such as the public showing of movies (Athapaththu 180). In several developed nations such as America, various free media exist. Thus, advertisers can use them to spread their messages to the target audience. The intensified corporate competition also forces firms to influence clients’ choices towards their own products and services. Thus, organizations spend millions and billions of dollars on advertising to attract customers. Because of the huge expenditures, corporations also desire massive returns.

Media firms greatly rely on advertising as they can obtain more money through advertising than licenses and public funding. Hence, advertisers can influence media companies to market them well and reward them for that. In most countries, the media exist on prohibitive costs (Athapaththu 180). Thus, the advertiser’s creativity is required to win the clients’ hearts and minds. If a particular geographical territory has different ethnic groups with numerous languages and religions, the cost rises since the advertisement should match each group or else it should be universal such that all people can relate to the same representation, which is difficult in most cases.

Educational Levels. The literacy level influences the decision of the advertisement tool and message to be utilized in the international market, which makes the development of standardized advertising campaigns challenging. The market segments having a lower level of adult literacy should be addressed using more audiovisual content than a written message (Melewar and Vemmervik 869). The visuals should also be properly designed to pass the intended message instead of the text section of the advertisement.

Language Barriers. Language diversity can lead to the need to alter and translate slogans, trade names, brands, and advertising messages, which can be difficult for firms that want to use standardized messages. Advertising companies should tackle language barriers to prevent failures in global marketing processes (Schmidt 79). Language is people’s identity as it assists them in expressing feelings, conveying complex emotions, sharing knowledge, and telling stories (Athapaththu 179). It is a system of symbols that individuals can employ to communicate with one another. Thus, the best mediators help individuals to connect and understand each other. An advertiser is supposed to understand the meanings of the idioms, jokes, related technological terms, slang, and innuendos to formulate the advertising in a different nation (Athapaththu 179). Besides, the advertiser needs to be a native speaker of a nation who comprehends the listed elements. However, at times even a native speaker may not understand the meanings of dialects that may have many differences from one geographical region to another or cast groups (Athapaththu 179). Undesirable circumstances may arise when encoding and decoding an idea between two persons who speak two different languages. Some words may also have meanings not certainly implied. Thus, advertisers should comprehend the unspoken meanings or understandings that particular terms mean or do not mean.


Different markets imply different choices, and selling a unified commodity lacks uniqueness. This factor makes competitors to gain market share by adjusting their products to fulfill the needs of a specific segment. Markets have different needs and tastes and therefore employing the standardized strategy puts firms in a weak position. Although marketers have considerable power over various factors that affect their market effectiveness, numerous external factors are beyond the marketing managers’ control. Such factors should be identified by managers and regarded in every aspect of their marketing tactics. The environment within which the marketing plan should be executed distinguishes domestic markets from global markets. The standardization guidelines keep changing, and the present trend is towards increasing the practice. However, the utilization and the extent of standardization still differ among multinationals. Since a dominant trend towards standardization exists, the subject of whether a firm should standardize its advertising messages may be reformulated to determine how organizations standardize their advertisements.

Works Cited

Elina, Dahlberg, et al. “Standardization and Adaptation in International Advertising of Consumer Goods.” Bachelor’s Thesis, 2003. Lulea University of Technology. www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1018543/FULLTEXT01.pdf. Accessed 7 May 2020.

Kaynak, Erdener, and Salah Hassan. Globalization of Consumer Markets: Structures and Strategies. Routledge, 2014.

Melewar, T. C., and ClaesVemmervik. “International Advertising Strategy.” Management Decision, vol. 42, no. 7, 2004, pp. 863-881.

Meyer, Elise, and Ingrid. Bernier. “Standardizing or Adapting the Marketing Mix across Culture: A Case Study: Agatha.” Unpublished Master Thesis, Halmstad School of Business and Marketing (2010).

Nasir, V. Aslihan, and Ipek Altinbasak. “The Standardization Adaptation Debate: Creating a Framework for the New Millennium.” Strategic Management Review, vol. 3, no.1, 2009, pp. 17-50.

Schmidt, Kailyn. “Standardization of International Advertising Strategies: A Content Analysis of Pantene Pro-V.” Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications, vol, 7, no.1, 2016, pp. 79-87.

Svend, Hollensen, and Opresnik Marc Oliver. Marketing: A Relationship Perspective. World Scientific, 2019.

Tantawy, Rasha Y., and Babu P. George. “Global Advertising in the Internet Era: The Standardization-Customization Debate Revisited.” Ecoforum Journal, vol.5, no.1, 2016, pp. 247-250.

Wang, Xuehua, and Zhilin Yang. “Standardization or Adaptation in International Advertising Strategies: The Roles of Brand Personality and Country-Of-Origin Image.” Asian Journal of Business Research, vol.1, no.2, 2011, pp. 25-36.