Responses to Global and Local Appeals in Chinese Television Advertising

ABSTRACT - OF VIDEOTAPE Although there was a thriving global advertising industry in Shanghai during much of the first half of the Twentieth Century (e.g., Chun 1994; Lee 1999), between 1949 and 1978 Aadvertising@ in China was mostly patriotic banners and posters. Since 1978, advertising has dramatically re-emerged in China. There has been a simultaneous explosion in the presence of foreign brands, Western actors, foreign words, and global images in these ads. A superficial conclusion would be that Chinese advertising has been Westernized, and Americanized. But the rise of global brands and advertising does not necessarily imply that local brands and advertising are overpowered, nor that global brands and advertising are interpreted the same way in different local cultures (e.g., Ger 1999; Ger and Belk 1996; Liebes and Katz 1990; Miller 1990; Wilk 1993). There is also some evidence that consumers in developing economies may show an initial fascination with foreign goods as signs of modernity and sophistication, but that eventually this fascination tends to wane and domestic pride in local brands and appeals begins to assert itself (Zhou and Belk 1993).



Citation:

Russell W. Belk and Nan Zhou (2002) ,"Responses to Global and Local Appeals in Chinese Television Advertising", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, eds. Ramizwick and Tu Ping, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 218.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, 2002      Page 218

RESPONSES TO GLOBAL AND LOCAL APPEALS IN CHINESE TELEVISION ADVERTISING

Russell W. Belk, University of Utah, U.S.A.

Nan Zhou, City University of Hong Kong

ABSTRACT - OF VIDEOTAPE

Although there was a thriving global advertising industry in Shanghai during much of the first half of the Twentieth Century (e.g., Chun 1994; Lee 1999), between 1949 and 1978 "advertising" in China was mostly patriotic banners and posters. Since 1978, advertising has dramatically re-emerged in China. There has been a simultaneous explosion in the presence of foreign brands, Western actors, foreign words, and global images in these ads. A superficial conclusion would be that Chinese advertising has been Westernized, and Americanized. But the rise of global brands and advertising does not necessarily imply that local brands and advertising are overpowered, nor that global brands and advertising are interpreted the same way in different local cultures (e.g., Ger 1999; Ger and Belk 1996; Liebes and Katz 1990; Miller 1990; Wilk 1993). There is also some evidence that consumers in developing economies may show an initial fascination with foreign goods as signs of modernity and sophistication, but that eventually this fascination tends to wane and domestic pride in local brands and appeals begins to assert itself (Zhou and Belk 1993).

Using qualitative videography, we examined "reader" responses to global and local television advertising among 40 upscale consumers in Shenzhen. Nearly all had a university degree, most had moved to Shenzhen from other parts of the PRC, and all were frequent television viewers. They ranged in age from 20 to 65. Participants were shown an average of 9 ads (from a set of 76 that appeared on CCTV and other major Chinese channels during 2001. A trained interviewer probed reactions to each ad following its showing. Informants were free to watch the ad multiple times and in most cases chose to watch ads between two and four times. Interviews lasted one to two hours and were videotaped.

Since both local and multinational firms can present their brands with images, actors, and language that is either strongly Chinese, or alternatively, with images that are strongly global, the ads were a mixture of foreign and local appeals by foreign and local firms. We tried to present a range of local-global ads within each product category (e.g., telephones, cosmetics, alcohol, soft drinks, televisions). We found a tendency to favor global imagery in certain product categories and to favor local imagery in others. We also found that regardless of the global or local nature of advertising scenes, spokespersons, and countries of product origin, ads that emphasized Chinese values were much more positively received. Many foreign appeals and foreign scenes were either not understood or seen as excessively frivolous, At the same time, other global appeals generated favorable responses and some local appeals fell flat. Our analysis emphasizes how this audience interprets television ads and why sometimes global ads are better and sometimes local ads generate more favorable responses. The resulting 20-minute video presents both ads and "reader" responses to these ads. Interviews and advertisements are in Pudhongua, while subtitles and voice-overs are in English.

Compared to previous studies of Chinese advertising that rely on content analyses of the themes and techniques employed in the ads, this study is unique in examining how ads are actually received and interpreted. By asking how audiences "read" ads, we developed a deeper and more revealing understanding of how global and local advertising appeals work. Whether or not global advertising strategies generate favorable audience responses toward these brands and ads is the primary focus of our video. In considering how Chinese consumers can respond very favorably to both local and global appeals, as well as very unfavorably to both types of appeals, the video provides insight into how brand symbolism affects Chinese consumers and how they are able to make certain brands a part of their lives.

REFERENCES

Chun Bong Ng (1994), Chinese Women and Modernity: Calendar Posters of the 1910sB1930s, Hong Kong: Art Media Resources..

Ger, Gnliz (1999), "Localizing in the Global Village: Local Firms Competing in Global Markets," California Management Review, 41 (Summer), 64-83.

Ger, Gnliz and Russell Belk (1996), "I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke: Consumptionscapes of the 'Less Affluent World’," Journal of Consumer Policy, 19 (3), 271-304.

Lee, Leo Gu-Fan (1999), Shanghai Modern: The Flowering of a New Urban Culture in China, 1930-1945, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Liebes, Tamar and Elihu Katz (1990), The Export of Meaning: Cross-cultural Readings of Dallas, New York: Oxford University Press.

Miller, Daniel (1990), "'The Young and the Restless’in Trinidad: A Case of the Local and the Global in Mass Consumption," in Roger Silverstone and E. Hirsch, eds., Consuming Technologies: Media and Information in Domestic Spaces, London: Routledge, 163-182.

Wilk, Richard (1993), "'It’s Destroying a Whole Generation’: Television and Moral Discourse in Belize," Visual Anthropology, 5, 229-244.

Nan Zhou and Russell Belk (1993), "Chna’s Advertising and the Export Marketing Learning Curve: The First Decade," Journal of Advertising Research, 33 (6) November, 1993, 50-66.

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Authors

Russell W. Belk, University of Utah, U.S.A.
Nan Zhou, City University of Hong Kong



Volume

AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5 | 2002



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