An Israeli Study on the Effectiveness of Standardized Television Commercials

ABSTRACT - This study compares the effectiveness of standardized, semi-localized, and local television commercials in Israel. The central argument is that international commercials, which address common basic consumers’ needs and values and are language-adjusted can be as effective as local commercials. Such international commercials should be transferable cross-culturally. Our study operationalized effectiveness by aided recognition, recall, and perceived believability. Our findings in support of the theoretical arguments can be used to identify potential execution elements that can be used to reduce the negative impact of standardized advertising. Theoretical and practical implication of these findings are discussed.



Citation:

Bella Florenthal and Aviv Shoham (1999) ,"An Israeli Study on the Effectiveness of Standardized Television Commercials", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, eds. Bernard Dubois, Tina M. Lowrey, and L. J. Shrum, Marc Vanhuele, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 325-331.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, 1999      Pages 325-331

AN ISRAELI STUDY ON THE EFFECTIVENESS OF STANDARDIZED TELEVISION COMMERCIALS

Bella Florenthal, TechnionBIsrael Institute of Technology, Israel

Aviv Shoham, TechnionBIsrael Institute of Technology, Israel

ABSTRACT -

This study compares the effectiveness of standardized, semi-localized, and local television commercials in Israel. The central argument is that international commercials, which address common basic consumers’ needs and values and are language-adjusted can be as effective as local commercials. Such international commercials should be transferable cross-culturally. Our study operationalized effectiveness by aided recognition, recall, and perceived believability. Our findings in support of the theoretical arguments can be used to identify potential execution elements that can be used to reduce the negative impact of standardized advertising. Theoretical and practical implication of these findings are discussed.

The debate about standardized versus adapted global marketing strategy has not been resolved. Furthermore, this issue has become increasingly important in recent years as firms have internationalized. The advantages of standardization include economies of scale (Levitt 1983) and preservation of brand image (Douglas and Wind 1987; Roth 1995). In contrast, adapted programs are more accurately tuned to the unique cultures of foreign countries (Duncan and Ramaprasad 1995; Roth 1995) While needs are mostly universal; however, addressing these needs is not (Kanso 1992). The question, then, is the extent to which partial adaptation of the marketing mix can be used to benefit from both worlds (Duncan and Ramaprasad 1995). In other words, the uniqueness of target markets’ cultures should be addressed while also taking advantage of synergism to create competitive advantages in global markets (Douglas and Wind 1987). Transferring messages and themes across cultures may be a key factor in setting the degree of adaptation (Tansey, Hyman and Zinkehman 1990; Tse, Belk and Zhou 1989). Messages aimed at satisfying universal needs (e.g., shaving creams) or use common values (e.g., being well respected) may be more transferable.

Previous research has mostly examined performance from the exporters’ perspective (e.g., Duncan and Ramaprasad’s 1995). However, assessing effectiveness of advertising at different levels of adaptation from target consumers’ perspective has been under-researched (see Shoham 1996 for an exception). Our study focuses on consumers’ perception of completely standardized, semi-adapted, and local television advertisements.

THEORETICAL DISCUSSION AND RESEARCH HYPOTHESES

The Impact of Values

Previous research has addressed the issue of standardization in the context of advertising (Aulakh and Kotable 1993; Elinder 1965; Fatt 1967). Standardized advertising helps to establish brand image (Duncan and Ramaprasad 1995; Kanso 1992), target common segments across nations (Levitt 1983), and reduce marketing costs (Johansson and Thorelli 1985). Two factors affect the selection of global marketing strategies. First, cultural background that forms values, norms, lifestyles, and attitudes is taken into account (Douglas and Wind 1987; Kanso 1992; Roth 1995). Second, socioeconomic differences that shape consumption behavior (e.g., spending and buying power) is accounted for (Roth 1995; Tse et al. 1989). Advertising should account for the cultures of target markets, as advertising messages have different meanings to consumers according to their values and beliefs (Kanso 1992; Tansey et al. 1990). Values and beliefs are related to the personal relevance of advertised products to consumers. Personal relevance is a key factor for involvement and motivation to process advertising information. The linkage between needs, goals, and values and product knowledge (Celsi and Olson 1988) represents the personal relevance of an advertised product. Thus, personal relevance is based on the relationship between personal needs and values and product characteristics.

According to Celsi and Olson (1988), two factors determine personal relevance. The first is a situational factorCconsumers’ immediate environmentCwhich activates self-relevant consequences, goals, and values. The second is an intrinsic factorCenduring structures of relevant knowledgeCwhich is representative of "perceived associations between objects and/or actions and important self-relevant consequences such as the attainment of goals and/or maintenance of values" Celsi and Olson (1988, p. 212). Both are related to values in generating personal relevance. These values must be identified for each culture before planing global advertising strategy that emphasizes product attributes. Values are centrally held, enduring beliefs that guide behavior (Rokeach 1968; Lascu et al. 1996). Proponents of standardization believe that consumers share common needs and values across countries (Levitt 1983; Roostal 1963). Proponents of adaptation believe that consumers’ culture-based values influence their advertisement interpretation (Tansey et al. 1990). Thus, the greater the cultural gap between the source and the target market the more essential the adaptation of advertising campaign is. Advertising that is mre sensitive to cultural values is more effective than advertising that ignores them (Marquez 1975; Hong, Muderrisioglu, and Zinkhan 1987).

Kahle (1996) identified nine valuesCself-respect, security, warm relationship with others, sense of accomplishment, self-fulfillment, sense of belonging, being well respected, fun and enjoyment in life, and excitementCabstract social cognitions that guide people in responding to different stimuli. Value-based advertising themes guide consumers’ interpretation of these advertisements. Value differences may reflect cultural differences that determine cross-cultural advertising strategy (Tansey et al. 1990). Successful advertising strategies address salient values of target cultures (Belk et al. 1985).

Cultures do not differ in preferred values but in the preferred order of values (Kahle 1996; Razzaque 1995; Tai and Tam 1996). Additionally, reported differences in preferred values’ order tend to be minimal (Shoham, Rose, Kropp, and Florenthal 1997). These values are important to consumers across cultures, but importance differs because of cultural background (Shoham et al. 1997; Shoham, Florenthal, Rose, and Kropp 1997). However, some values have been reported to be universal. For example, Alden, Hoyer, and Lee (1993) argue that whereas contents of humorous advertisements vary across cultures, the basic structure of humorous appeals can be standardized because certain aspects of consumers’ cognition are universal. Thus, the need for humor is basic and is associated with the value "fun and enjoyment in life". Since values are universally important to consumers across nations, and since their structure exhibits universality as well, advertisements that address these values should be more transferable (Figure 1). Thus, the first hypothesis is:

H1: The larger the number of universal values used in advertisements the more transferable and effective they are in the target market.

FIGURE 1

FACTORS IN TRANSFERABILITY OF ADVERTISEMENT

The Impact of Need Universality

Human needs tend to be universal (Kanso 1992). Appealing to these needs and wants through advertising differs on the basis of the level of standardization used. Managers who use a standardized approach argue that universal needs can be addressed by universal appeals (Kanso 1992); managers who use an adapted approach believe that markets are heterogeneous in nature (Roth 1995). Thus, adjusting themes, symbols, and contents can improve the effectiveness of advertisements (Kanso 1992; Tansey et al. 1990).

Tansey et al. (1990) compared advertisements themes in the US and Brazil. Wilderness and work settings were used equally in the US and in Brazil. Thus, although Brazil’s culture differs from the US, common themes exist and can be used in both counties. A study of print advertisements in Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China, and Taiwan revealed that although there are differences in advertisements across these nationsCadvertisements in Taiwan resemble Hong Kong’s in consumption appeals (Tse et al. 1989). Thus, mutual themes can be established for countries that are culturally different, as there are common needs and wants. Sriram and Gopalakrishna (1991) examined cultural, economic, and media availability in 40 countries. They found that standardization is not a strategy that makes the whole campaign transferable. Rather, it makes unified themes and images possible. Thus:

H2: Standardized advertisements that use common themes and address common and basic needs are transferable to target markets, reduce the need for adaptation. Thus, they will be as effective as adapted advertisements.

The Impact of Language

Language isan important cultural barrierthat merits a separate discussion in the context of international advertising campaigns (Duncan and Ramaprasad 1995). Firms may use mostly standard-

ized strategies but still use a local language in their advertisements. Duncan and Ramaprasad (1995) surveyed advertising agencies and found that only 11% of the multi-national brands were advertised in each country using a standardized language. Another 41% used a standardized language in some countries, and 43% did not use a standardized language in any country. As advertising strategies which use standardized language are less common, it is intuitively appealing to expect them to be less transferable across countries and, if used, to be less effective (Figure 1). Thus:

H3: Advertisements that use a standardized language are less transferable and effective than ones that use the local language are.

MEASURING TRANSFERABILITY AND THE IMPACT OF ADVERTISEMENTS

Operationalization of Transferability

Different approaches have been used to measure advertising transferability. In some cases, researchers have assumed that the use of standardized advertising implies a higher level of message and theme transferability and, consequently, higher levels of effectiveness. Kanso(1992) reported that75%of U.S. consumer durable manufacturers localize their international advertising campaigns whereas the other 25% standardized them. The implication is that many U.S. manufacturers believe that advertisements are not transferable. Advertising execution is also used to operationalize transferability. Duncan and Ramaprasad (1995) reported that advertising agencies use a standardized approach for 68% of multinational brands and use a standardized execution for 54%. Thus, transferability of advertisement execution is more difficult than the transferability of advertising strategy.

Comparison of advertising themes is a third form of opcrationalizing the concept of transferability. Tse et al. (1989) and Tansey et al. (1990) used this approach and argued that theme similarity could bc used to infer cross-country theme transferability.

Operationalization of Transferability Effectiveness

These former approaches arc macro-oriented-they examine trends in different countries with different products. Little previous research has examined the transferability concept on a micro-level. Such an approach would necessitate an examination of transferability by varying the level of adaptation (local, semi-adapted, and standardized) and its effectiveness from the consumers’ perspective. This is important, as advertising is a stimulus that is encoded and stored in consumers’ long-term memory through learning. Thus, advertising information retrieval is an important measure of advertisements’ effectiveness. Recall and recognition are commonly used methods to assess retrieval of information that is available and accessible in long-term memory (Lynch and Srull 1982). Recall is a two-step process (Anderson and Bower 1972; Lynch and Srull 1982)Cthe consumer has to retrieve the information from memory and to perform a recognition check to be sure that the information pertains to the specific issue (Lynch and Srull 1982). Recognition, on the other hand, is viewed as a simpler process, as it bypasses the retrieval step. It involves only a discrimination step in which the familiarity of the item is compared to some criterion (Lynch and Srull 1982). As recognition s a step in the recall process, recognition is almost always higher than recall (Lynch and Srull 1982).

Additionally, in recall tests consumers "must describe the stimulus that is not present" and in recognition tests consumers must only identify the stimulus "as having been previously seen or heard" (Singh and Rothschild 1983, p. 235). As recognition is a less complex cognitive process than recall, it can be used for low involvement products and for incidental learning of advertising (Singh and Rothschild 1983). The two main limitations of recognition tests are high indiscriminate scores and sensitivity to response bias (Singh and Rothschild 1983). The main limitation of recall tests is that consumers may fail to retrieve the relevant information although it is available in memory, as the retrieval process is situation-conditioned (Lynch and Srull 1982). As both tests can be complimentary in measuring effectiveness, we used both.

A second measure of the effectiveness of adapted versus standardized advertising is the perceived believability of the advertised information. Following the cognitive structural and cognitive response models, consumers’ ability to recall or recognize advertised information does not necessarily mean that they will accept the it. Recall cannot measure consumers’ belief in the recalled information (Chattopadhyay and Alba 1988). Consumers’ ability to accept the information may differ according to their initial beliefs (Olson, Toy, and Dover 1982; Toy 1982) and the perceived believability of the messages (Chattopadhyay and Alba 1988).

The advertised information forms a cognitive structure of beliefs, which has to blend into initial beliefs to form a new cognitive structure toward the advertised brand (Olson et al. 1982). Belief discrepancy, which occurs when the persuasive messages differ from initial beliefs, will affect the acceptance of communicated information (Toy 1982). Messages that match the initial beliefs better have a higher probability of acceptance (Toy 1982). Values are defined as the most basic and abstract beliefs that influence attitudes and behavior. Thus, advertisements that address values may avoid belief discrepancy and be more accepted. Based on the cognitive response model, four different spontaneous responses to advertised messages were identified in the literature. These include counter-argumentsCresponses of disagreement with the advertised information, support argumentsCresponses of agreement with the advertisement’s information, source derogationCresponses that disregard the source credibility, and curiosity statements (Hoyer and McInnis 1997; Olson et al 1982). Toy (1982) found more counter-arguments for high levels of belief discrepancies, and more support argument for low levels of belief discrepancies. In applying the cognitive response method, researchers usually ask participants to write down spontaneous statements after being exposed to advertisements. These statements are classified into the four categories. The amount of statements in each category provides a measure of the effectiveness of these advertisements. As discussed below, our research is a field study and not an experimental study. Therefore, this method could not be used. We used the perceived believability scale, developed and validated by Beltramini and associates, to measure the cognitive process of belief formation (Beltramini and Evans 1985; Beltramini 1988; Beltramini and Stafford 1993). This scale focuses on consumers’ perceived believability of advertised performance claims.

To assess the impact of transferability of global messages in Israel, three television commercials with different levels of standardization aired at the time of the study were used. The three commercials were suggested by advertising executives. These executives were asked to provide possible commercials for similar products, while reducing the potential impact of confounding factors. Thus, creative executions and target markets were similar. Additionally, the three brands involved were well known to the local market prior to the beginning of the advertising campaign. In short, we are fairly confident that differences in efectiveness, if observed, are due to the level of standardization/adaptation, rather to confounding elements. The first commercial was standardized, virtually unchanged from the one used in other countries. The second was a semi-adopted commercial of a global brand, in which language modifications were applied. The third was a local commercial of a local brand.

The three commercials addressed common basic needs and desires of western cultures, as they advertised low calorie sweet snacks. They also addressed implicitly three values from the LOV. First, sweet snacks such as candy and gum can be viewed as addressing the value of fun and enjoyment in life. People generally enjoy eating sweets, which are usually viewed as indulgence products (e.g. chocolates). Second, low-calorie foods are important mostly in western cultures, as appearance and slenderness are highly appreciated (Hawkins, Best, and Coney 1992). Thus, values which are more "social" or "external", such as being well respected and warm relationships with other, are addressed (Homer and Kahle 1988; Rose et al. 1994).

As the two foreign commercials apply to the same basic needs and values as the local one they should be transferable and be as effective as the local one (H1-H2). However, the language barrier is not attended to in one of the foreign commercials. On the basis of the third hypothesis, the commercial that uses the foreign language is less transferable and should be less effective (H3). In sum, the semi-adapted commercial is transferable and should perform similarly to the local, fully adopted commercial. The standardized commercial should be less effective than the others are due to the language barrier.

METHODOLOGY

Sample

Data were collected in a survey from 109 undergraduate students in a medium-sized Israeli University. Most students were 21-25 (76.2%), averaging 23.4 (s.d.=2.4). There are more males (61.1%) than female (38.9%) due to the engineering orientation of the University. The homogeneity in age and education of this convenience sample reduces the possibility that differences in responses are due to varying demographics.

Our questionnaire included items on TV commercials aired on Israel’s Channel 2. Notably, our study was not an experiment. In other words, we did not intend to expose the sample to each commercial randomly. Rather, we used the opportunity that Channel 2 just began commercials’ broadcasting to test the effectiveness of the commercials discussed below. Since responding to the questionnaire required prior exposure to Channel 2, we included a measure of students’ daily hours of exposure to Channel 2. This item was necessary to control for commercials’ exposure. On average, students watched Channel 2 for 1.9 hours a day. The commercials were aired during all broadcast hours of the day for two weeks before data collection. Channel 2 is the only channel that airs commercials in Israel, and it was introduced to the Israeli public as a new channel at that time. We believe that students who were exposed to this channel for approximately 1.9 hours a day (on average) had a fair chance to have been exposed to the chosen commercials. The exposure item was also useful for an examination of the potential impact of differences in the number of exposures on effectiveness.

TABLE 1

LOCALIZATION OF EXECUTION ELEMENTS

Commercials’ Characteristics

Three advertising agency executives helped us to select commercials. They were asked to choose commercials for products from the same industry that vary in adaptation. The products had to be relevant to students. Based on their advice, three commercals for food products were chosen to represent differing levels of adaptation. Table 1 provides a comparison of the level of adaptation for major execution elements of the three commercials. Most of the adjustments in the semi-localized commercial were language-oriented: written translation, voice-over, graphical elements, brand name, and package and product logos. These elements are all related to the use of language (verbally and visually). The theme and creative executions were unchanged (background, actors).

The three commercials promote low-involvement sweet snacks. Thus, the differences in effectiveness should not be due to product type. The first commercial is for a low-calorie, sugar-free candy (Mutar). This commercial was produced locally for a local product. It represents a completely adapted advertising strategy. The second commercial was a semi-adopted advertisement of a sugar-free chewing gum (Orbit). Changes from the original included a Hebrew brand name, local packaging, and a Hebrew logo. Additionally, the graph representing decreasing Hp level during chewing was in Hebrew. Finally, voice-over and written translation were used. Importantly, these changes were made by the advertising agency independently of our study. The third commercial is a completely standardized advertisement of a mini-flavored candy (Mentos). This commercial was transferred to Israel unchanged, except for the small letters of written translation at the bottom of the screen.

Measures

Aided recognition was measured by a dichotomous item: "Do you remember the recent advertisement for [brand x] (yes=1; no=0)". Aided recall was measured by an open-ended item: "If you recognized the commercial for [brand x], please note what you remember about it (please note anything about the commercial you remember even if it appears to be unimportant)". Two referees counted the number of different elements recalled. Differences in counts were resolved by consultation of the referees. A ten-item scale measured believability. The items were anchored by believable/unbelievable, trustworthy/untrustworthy, convincing/not convincing, credible/not credible, reasonable/unreasonable, honest/dishonest, unquestionable/questionable, conclusive/inconclusive, authentic/not authentic, and likely/unlikely. The scale’s reliability and validity was established by Beltramini and Evans (1985).

FINDINGS AND ANALYSIS

Findings

A three-step analysis was used. First, recognition of the three brands was analyzed. We used t-test to identify significant differences between the means for each of the three brands. Second, recall levels for the three brands were analyzed based on pair-wise comparisons. According to McGuire’s model (1976), this analysis included only respondents who recognized the brands earlier. For example, if respondents did not recognize Mutar, they were removed from the recall-based analysis. Third, believability of the three brands was analyzed based on pair-wise comparisons. We averaged the ten believability items to arrive at an averaged measure of perceived believability for each brand. Alpha values ranged between 0.92 and 0.95, establishing the scale’s reliability. The believability scale corresponds inversely to perceived believabilityChigh believability is represented with low scale values; low believability is represented with high scale values. Pair-wise comparisons included only respondents that recalled at least one element for both brands. For example, if Mentos and Orbit were compared, only respondents that could recall at least one element from each were included in the analysis. As a result, sample sizes for each comparison varied according to recognition and recall responses for every pair (Table 2).

TABLE 2

PAIRED SAMPLE MEANS

Mutar (Local Versus Orbit (Semi-Adapted). Aided recognition was similar for both brands: 83 out of 109 (0.86; s.d.=0.43) recognized Mutar and 87 (0.80; s.d.=0.40) recognized Orbit. Aided recall was analyzed for 68 respondents, who recognized both brands. Average aided recall was significantly higher (p<0.05) for the local brand (3.54; s.d.=2.69) than for the semi-adapted brand (3.04; s.d.=1.86). Perceived believability was analyzed for 59 respondents, who recalled at least one element from both advertisements. On average, the local brand’s perceived believability was lower than for the semi-localized Orbit’s. Mutar scored significantly higher (4.28; s.d.=1.31) than Orbit (3.22; s.d.=1.32; p<0.01).

Mutar (Local) Versus Mentos (Standardized). Aided recognition was significantly higher for the local Mutar (0.76; s.d.=0.43) than for the standardized Mentos (0.58; s.d.=0.50; p<0.01). For the recall and believability analyses 49 and 41 respondents, respectively, were included. No differences between the brands were observed for these two measures (p>0.05).

Orbit (Semi-localized) Versus Mentos (Standardized). Aided recognition was significantly higher for the semi-adapted Orbit (0.80; s.d.=0.40) than for the standardized Mentos (0.58; s.d.=0.50; p<0.01). For the recall analysis 51 pairs were used. No significant difference (p>0.05) between the two brands was identified. For the believability analysis 41 pairs were compared. Perceived believability for the semi-adapted Orbit was higher than for the standardized MentosCOrbit scored significantly lower (3.36; s.d.=1.51) than Mentos did (4.49; s.d.=1.47; p<0.01).

Analysis

These results suggest several conclusions. First, the semi-adapted commercial (Orbit) was as effective as the local one (Mutar) on two measures (recognition and believability). Only for recall, the fully adapted Mutar scored, on average, higher then the semi-adapted Orbit. Second, the semi-adapted commercial (Orbit) was more effective on the same two measures compared to the standardized commercial (Mentos). Thus, Orbit can be viewed as a successfully transferred, semi-adapted commercial. Thus, the semi-adapted commercial (Orbit) is more transferable then the standardized (Mentos).

Third, surprisingly, the local, fully adapted Mutar commercial and the standardized Mentos commercial do not differ significantly on recall and believability. According to the recognition measure, the local Mutar is more effective then the standardized Mentos. These findings imply that Mentos, which is a standardized commercial, is as effective as Mutar, which is a local commercial. Thus, the standardized commercial was transferable and effective.

In sum, based on these findings, Orbit, which is a semi-adapted commercial, and Mentos, which is a completely standardized commercial, are both as effective as Mutar, which is a local commercial. Thus, both foreign commercials can be viewed as transferable to Israel. This conclusion supports H1-H2, which suggested that commercials could be transferred if they address basic needs and emphasize universal values.

H3 suggested that language is a cultural barrier that effects the transferability of an advertisement and was partially supported. The standardized Mentos commercial included minimal language adjustments (compared to semi-localized Orbit). Thus, it was hypothesized that the standardized Mentos commercial will be less effective than the semi-adapted Orbit and the local Mutar commercials. Although the Mentos commercial was less effective than the Orbit commercial, it was not less effective than Mutar’s. Thus, use of English may be a less important cultural barrier in Israel.

A possible explanation for the partial support to H3 is that Israeli consumers are used to read translations of foreign films. Having formed the habit, Israeli consumers should not be affected by the need to read translation at the bottom of the television screen. Notably, the local Mutar was more effective than the standard Mentos on reognition. As recognition is a simpler cognitive process (Singh and Rothschild 1983), language may have a stronger impact on recognition as it increases the familiarity of the text. The other two measures, recall and believability, are more complex cognitive processes. Thus, consumers that encoded the information and stored it in their memory overcame the language barrier of the commercial.

The recall data was the least consistent with our hypotheses. Recall depends on three factors. First, it is situation-dependentCdifferent items can be recalled in different situations (Lynch and Srull 1982). Second, it depends on competing information that the consumer was exposed to during the encoding process (Lynch and Srull 1982). Third, it depends on the passage of time between the stimulus and the response, making it unstable across time (Chattopadhyay and Alba 1988). These factors can explain the findings in our study.

Our findings could be criticized for not controlling for the number of exposures. Therefore, an additional analysis assessed the impact of the number of exposures. The sample was split into two sub-samples, based on individuals’ self-reported number of exposures to each commercial. The two sub-samples represented high versus low commercial exposure with a cut-off value of three exposures. This cut-off value is based on prior research that established three exposures as the optimum level for advertising effectiveness (Britt, Adams, and Miller 1972; Krugman 1972). The results of this analysis were identical to the results for the complete sample. Thus, our results seem to be substantive and not a method artifact.

IMPLICATIONS AND DIRECTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH

Limitations and Directions for Future Research

Our study has limitations, which suggest that the findings should be viewed with caution. First, the generalizability of the results to non-student samples may be questioned. Using products that are relevant to students should have helped in reducing the impact of this threat to generalizability. Additionally, we used students to increase sample homogeneity and reduce the impact of other potential explanatory factors. However, future studies may use other age- and social-background-based samples. Such research should examine how demographics influence people’s ability to process different levels of adapted advertisements.

Second, the generalizability of our findings to other products (beyond sweet snacks) may be questioned. While these products were chosen for their relevancy to the sample, future studies might use a broader range of products. Finally, we conducted a field study and not an experiment. Thus, control over factors such as the number of exposures was limited, as our assessment was based on a self-reported measure. Further research might use an experimental design to control for variables such as the numbers of exposures to the commercials.

Implications

Previous research concluded that adjusted advertisements are more effective than standardized ones (Shoham 1996). However, we have identified mechanisms that can be used to reduce or eliminate the negative impact of a standardized approach. These mechanisms can be used fruitfully by managers. First, the existence of universal needs and values make it possible to transfer advertisements across cultures. Thus, managers should strive to identify cross-cultural similarities and differences on profiles of needs and values. To the extent that similarities dominate, transferred advertisements and commercials can be used. Conversely, when differences dominate, adaptation of the advertising mix may be necessary. In the former case, the explicit or implicit use of and reference to universal prsonal needs and values can help in mitigating the negative consequences of less accurate standardized commercials.

Second, in countries in which translated media is used regularly, adding a translation at the bottom of the screen may be helpful in eliminating the negative impact of standardized messages. Television programming in some countries is "localized" in that American programs are dubbed in the local language. This is the case for larger markets such as France and Germany. Consumers in such countries may be less used to written translations, resulting in a higher level of required adaptations. In smaller markets, such as Israel, Holland, and Sweden, there is relatively little dubbing and consumers are used to written translations making standardized advertisements more effective than otherwise.

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Authors

Bella Florenthal, TechnionBIsrael Institute of Technology, Israel
Aviv Shoham, TechnionBIsrael Institute of Technology, Israel



Volume

E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4 | 1999



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