Every day there are very many advertisements that are played on different mediums of communications. The media over the years has been growing tremendously. With the growth of technology, many people are able to access the media. The media has also been able to link the whole world, this is practically seen with the capability of having international television broadcasts, where by one country’s media, has the capability of transmitting its live broadcast to the whole world. Due to this mass coverage, the media has become a very good source of publicity. With the world becoming global, the market has also followed suit, and therefore the media comes in handy when it comes to marketing of goods. Locally, in many countries, many business firms have been able to use its media based on the unique features of the media in the countries to market their products. This work there fore is based on how the uniqueness of the media; the television sector in China and western countries has depicted some differences in the way television advertisements are carried out in this two different geographical regions. Also this work is aimed at throwing more light on the way cultural diversity has created diversity in the production of the commercials. As it will be discovered in this work, many of the differences lie in the area of culture and cultural perspective in these two different geographical regions. Different literatures will be reviewed to support the discussion.
Advertisement as defined by Petley (2003) is simply the means through which services and goods are pushed to the public. Through this the advertisers aim at increasing the demand of the advertised goods and services through drawing attention of people to the goods and making them believe that they need the goods (P. 4). There are different medias through which advertisement can be carried out, for example the print media and the broadcast media. The television advertisement, also known as the television commercial as the name suggests is the use of mostly short television programs to pass message about a certain service or product.
Zissis and Bhattacharji (2008) the media in china has for long been characterized by government policies that aims at controlling the media content with an aim of the government maintaining power. This has ensured that the media does not have the freedom to do what it has to do. The government filters and controls all the affairs of the media and there has been severe punishment to those who breach any government policies. China has 374 television stations as per the research by Zissis and Bhattacharji (2008) and this makes it a widely televised country. On the other hand, the media in most of the European countries and most of other western countries has the capability of exercising their freedom. There are few media restrictions, As Czepek, Hellwig and Nowak (2009) connotes, all the member states of the EU have guaranteed the presence of media freedom in their judicial system and their constitutions.
The main differences that are depicted by the western television advertisement and that of China are cultural based. These two regions have diverse culture and therefore the packaging of the advertisements has to be different. According to Ning (2007) on a report based on the Chinese media research, the Chinese culture has formed a basis for many forms of advertisements. Bittner (2007) also concurs with this; he indicates that many researchers have concluded that in order to be successful in china you have to understand the Chinese culture. This is because the response on the television advertisement is proportional to the way the norms and values of certain culture are addressed in the advertisements. The different in these two regions way of television advertisement can be grouped under the following headings as supported by the different reviewed literatures
Collectivism and individualism
As it is identified by Ning (2007), the Chinese people always put the interest of the clan or the society first, according to their culture, the development of the clan and or the family forms their society and the reverse is true for the western countries. To further elaborate this difference, Bittner (2007) suggests that the theory of individualism and collectivism explains it well. This is explained as the individual and collectivity relationship that prevails in the society. It is believed that the way of life of the Chinese revolves around the Confucian doctrine, which includes; virtue and fidelity, women’s chastity, filial sons and benevolent father’s ancestor worship and the submission to authority. This has made the western countries to view the Chinese as people who have a collectivistic culture. This make the Chinese people try to pursue interests that are geared to the emphasizing of communal goals and not individual goals. P.13. the research by Ning (2007) also includes different explained television advertisements that expose the differences in the way both regions present their television advertisements. These differences are in the contents of the advertisements.
To further explain this Ning (2007), explains several advertisements in both China and western countries that clearly depict the cultural differences;
The first case is the Chinese coca cola advertisement which shows collectivism.
The advertisement begins with a caption which indicates Paris before the spring festival; a Chinese pop star receives a call from his mother who is in China. She asks her son if he could make it to china to observe the spring festival from home; China. He declines the offer because he is far from home. As He enjoys his lunch, two baby cartoons come into picture smiling and tell him that they would take him back home. The next scene on the screen is the pop star at home, in China, and a line that says coca cola takes you home appears on the screen. This story shows how the Chinese people show the importance of family and this is used to explain the collectivism of the Chinese culture. Ning (2007),
The second case is the American rebook advertisement, which shows the individualism in the western culture.
The advertisement opens with Allen Iverson the NBA star, in deep thoughts, when he finally stands up a tag line comes on the screen which says “I am what I am” Ning (2007), this is a direct implication of the individualistic culture that exist in the western countries. In these countries many consider themselves first before the others. These two advertisements are used to explain the way culture has diversified the advertisements in the china and the western countries.
Levels of cultural contents
As Fei (2005), in his research suggests, there are two different levels of the cultural contents which influence the advertisement. The high content culture and the low content culture. These two types of culture differentiate the way people in the two cultures associate to the content of information. Information can be grouped as explicit and implicit and this types of information what characterizes the two cultures. For the low content culture the information is explicit, this creases a dependence on what is written or said. On the other hand as Fei (2005), suggests in high content cultures human communication is influenced by social norms, hierarchy and intimate personal relationships and not the message alone.
As Fei (2005) indicates the Chinese people belong to the high content group which is characterized by the use of indirect verbal and non verbal expressions and the use of symbolisms. The western countries are considered to be of the class of low content culture that uses explicit information with the less reflective direct speech. This classification therefore influences the content of advertisement in these two diverse cultural regions. This difference in the content of culture there fore suggest that for instance in the high content cultural groups, like China, there is the use of more visual cues and it emphasizes the use of more depth than breath unlike in the low content cultural regions; the western countries where there is much emphasis on the use of breadth than depth. (Fei 2005).
Under the two differences that exist between china and the western countries as identified above; Collectivism and individualism and the Levels of cultural contents. There are many differences concerning the way television advertisements are packaged. Some of the differences that can be drawn are as follows:
Another difference in the mode of advertising between the western countries and china as (Fei 2005) suggests the western countries visually identify the advertised brands earlier in their commercials that the Chinese do. As it was considered in this work that the low content cultural regions (the western countries) often use information which is explicit to convey their messages in television commercials, they end up using more visuals and direct comparisons of products than the Chinese. This ensures that all the weaknesses and the strengths of a certain product and goods and also their competitions are spelled out clearly. On the other hand the Chinese culture does not encourage the use of direct comparison in the commercials so as to maintain or promote harmony and consensus.
The above point also ushers us into another difference that is visible in the way television advertisement is carried out in both china and western countries. The rate of pacing in the television commercial in the western countries is faster than that of china as it is indicated, television commercial have a short time span to express all that they need to about a certain product or services that is being advertised. This means that the commercial producers have to use many shots in that given time. There fore, in regions which their culture is of low context, there is faster pacing than in high content culture regions. In advertisement pacing is measured by the duration of a shot, and it is the one used to capture and maintain viewers attention this there fore call for long or extended time that enable the viewers to absorb all the cues that are in the shots.
Another difference that exist between the Chinese and the western advertisement is that, in the western countries there is much use of camera images which are subjective than in the Chinese television advertisements As Fei (2005) suggests, in the making of television commercials there is the use of the technique of subjective shot. This is a technique that ensures that the camera is used in a way that it simulates the viewer’s perspective. The perspective of an objective observer on normal circumstances is assumed by the camera by the viewers being shown the activities and objects of the visual fields. The subjective camera therefore ensures mandatory involvement of the viewers because there are not just mere observers of events. The main role played by this subjective camera is to lead the viewers to presentation of the advertised product’s explicit values. This is practically observable in the cultures which are low content in nature.
Another difference that exists between the Chinese and the western advertisement is that, in the western countries there is few use of images of direct addresses than in the Chinese television advertisements. Fei (2005) suggests in most of the television commercial there is the use of a camera technique that ensures that there is direct address. Here the endorser or the commercial actor directly speaks to the viewers or the camera. Through this, it is believed that there is psychological intimacy and real world closeness. This is believed to give a sense of closeness and intimacy with the character on screen. This is a reflection of the characteristic of the cultures which ensures collectivism. These culture of collectivism, views individualism negatively. Most of this individualism is practiced in the western countries and to the above explained dependency is of less importance.
Also as expressed by the report on the differences of the Chinese and western advertisement by Fei (2005) is the fact that, there is a very big contrast in the way these two cultural diverse regions manifest or depict their culture. In the western countries people are more oriented and focused on the future. Contrary to this, the Chinese people are more focused on their repetitive traditions. These traditional values transform them to a conservative manner that makes them slow to adopt any kind of change. In the western countries, as there focus is on the future, there is much change in the commercials as they are made to reflect future changing environment.
As indicate earlier on this work, china has a collectivism culture that ensures that there is more emphasis on groups and families. On the other hand the individualistic culture ensures that much emphasis is on individuals and not groups. This difference is also depicted in the way the commercial are made. In the western countries for example, commercials made include individual Images or individualistic ideas. The opposite is visible in the Chinese advertisements on TV.
On conclusion therefore, it is evident that culture plays a very big and important role in the way things are carried out. The Chinese culture and the western cultures are very diverse and this dictates on the way various things are carried out including business. Culture is seen to define the likes and interest of people. Any thing in the media that is seen to appeal to someone’s values and norms has a higher probability of influencing or persuading the viewer or the listener. There fore as explained in this work there are many differences that are available in the in the Chinese and the western television advertisements.
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