International advertising from the past vs. advertising today

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            International advertising involves the propagation of a commercial message to target audiences, in more than one country. As observed, audiences of a certain country tend to differ in likes from another and hence different appeals may be used for the conveyance of the same message (Berger, 2001).The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of the product however must remain loyal to the attributes and solution of and delivered by the product.

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            It can also be said that international advertising is a communication process that is at variance in different cultures that have dissimilar values, communication systems and spending patterns. The use of language and the applications of the brand’s attributes and benefits of that product tailored to stimulate attention, interest, desire and action to purchase that product must also understand the style of language in which it is expressed (Mooij, 2005).

            Initially advertising began as posters/leaflets/flyers with the advent of the printing press, in Germany. From there spreading quickly to Europe and the USA, manufacturers of a wide range of products were able to advertise and promote various products, their benefits and the location of where the product would be available. These products consisted from tonics for different health-related issues to diverse agrarian needs etc. As a result, entrepreneurs began to form small stores that later burgeoned into companies and thence into corporations (Berger, 2001).

            The elements of advertising employed, were the same as those still used today, namely a large headline to gain attention supported by an attractive visual. Then a body copy that explains the attributes and benefits of the product to invoke interest and desire to purchase that product. Finally, a line of action was added to indicate where the product would be available.                   Basically these methods were employed then on an international level, with each country adhering to its own cultural norms, yet promoting the product along with its attributes and positioning intact (Mooij, 2005).

            During the first and second World War, advertising was even more important as the war machines of England, Germany and America had to create public awareness campaigns relating to the situations, both economic and social, that the wars had created. Also, through the Great Depression of Latin America in 1929, when the stock markets sank to an all-time low and companies/corporations became bankrupt, advertising had to focus on the needs rather than the wants of the consumer.

            Slowly, advertising grew from leaflets and flyers to newspapers, magazines, billboards, banners hoardings, pole signs etc. As retail stores opened up, print advertising grew even more in the form of wobblers, streamers, stand-alones, display units and other point of Sales (POS) (Berger, 2001).

            With the advent of radio in 1920, advertising made products available to the listeners in every household that owned a radio. With the emergence of television in the late 1950’s, the demonstration of the USP of the product, through Television Commercials (TVCs) was made possible for the first time in the history of advertising. Thereby, any brand name that had the budget to be able to advertise on television became a household name in whichever country that had access to that form of media. This does not mean that press and print media went out of style, as each has its own characteristics and impact (Mooij, 2005).

            With the introduction of the automobile and locomotives, the consumer was able to travel from one location to another with greater speed and convenience. This paved way to transit advertising, making the product accessible to the eyes of the consumer even while he/she was on the move.

            With the surfacing technology, advertising has reached heights that were never thought of in the past. A new term, namely “guerilla advertising” has been introduced, which allows using practically anything under the sun, for the promotion of a product. (Berger, 2001)

            As product categories increased over the years to cater to the wants and needs of the consumer, even more brands of similar product categories emerged to vie for supremacy on and of the shelf, be it a product or a service. The battle of the brands now begins. These brands expanded their accessibility from a national level to an international arena as they understood that consumer wants and needs are similar world-wide, the only difference being the marketing environment that consists of demographics, psychographics, geographic and socio-graphics, which differ from country to country(Kotler &  Keller,2006).

            Another very significant influence on international advertising is the use of celebrity endorsement; this type of culture has now raided the advertising world, ranging from Michael Jordan endorsing ADIDAS, Tiger Woods wearing NIKE to Ashwaria Rai touting LUX. Similarly, the taking up of Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR), by brands for better positioning in the international market, is gaining world-wide recognition. One such example is of Avon, having introduced the Avon Breast Cancer Awareness Crusade that raised $25 million to support breast cancer education towards early detection (Berger, 2001).

            Moreover, the 21st century market is all about customer satisfaction rather than the tendency of being able to engage in and achieve high-scale profits. Hence, the medium through which the product is introduced is checked for its ability to deliver the message across with absolute precision. These things were not considered in the past, where advertising beyond marketing was a trend unknown. But nowadays, we have three factors available to us, based on the budget allocated by the manufacturer. Within these three factors there is regional, national and international. Regional distribution entails an assured amount of budget which is far less than that of a national level and much more is entailed in an international campaign budget (Jones, 1999).

            The age factor obviously plays a very important part that dictates the consumer’s buying behavior and their future actions, based on their psychic. Therefore, effective advertising (practiced today) which involves understanding of human psychic and buying behavior is able to reach to the egos of the consumer. The human weakness is exploited by advertisers to promote/sell a product/brand in order to provide a solution to their problems. If advertising was “truth made fascinating” then the impossible can become possible with graphics and message.

            With greater research and development, modern techniques in advertising have been introduced. These include electronic billboards, innovative POS and e-advertisement. Such trends allow brands to compete on the basis of ground-breaking ideas with which they advertise themselves and capture the market on transit routes, by influencing consumers to be conscious of their brand awareness (Jones, 1999).

            Nowadays, creative advertising is on the cards, it helps to catch the consumer’s attention much quicker and provides an enduring impact on his/her brain. Hence it can be said that today’s advertising is sensation, made mesmerizing and is being increasingly recognized as means of a defining element of a popular culture.

            To sum up, international advertising has come a long way from what it used to be. It has become much of an industry, but in the end the advertising industry is what it is and what it was meant to be-inducing the consumer to buy the brand.


Berger, W. (2001). Advertising Today. Phaidon Press
Jones, J.P. (1999). International Advertising: Realities and Myths. Sage Publications

Kotler, P. &  Keller, K.L. (2006). Marketing Management.12th edn, Prentice Hall.
Mooij, M.K. (2005). Global Marketing and Advertising: Understanding Cultural Paradoxes. Sage Publications, Inc.

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