Sports Marketing and the Challenges of Globalization: A Case Study of Cultural Resistance in New Zealand. (Case Study)

Article excerpt

Abstract: The message to international marketers has long been "think global, act local", but the complexity of the issue has rarely been explored empirically. This analysis examines the notion of disjuncture herein defined as points of ambiguity, incongruity and conflict that emerge when global sport-advertising campaigns are released within local cultural settings. The purpose of the paper is to move beyond the "think global, act local" adage by examining the politics and contradictions associated with local regulatory control of global sport advertisements in a specific national context, namely New Zealand.

Keywords: Sport, Globalisation, Advertising, Cultural Resistance

Executive Summary

Professionals involved in sports marketing are increasingly embracing the opportunities available within the global economy. However, while possibilities abound, there are a number of unique challenges facing those who wish to enter new markets. In particular there are specific barriers that give rise to points of what Appadurai (1990) refers to as disjuncture. Within this analysis we explore the term by referring to disjuncture as the points of ambiguity, incongruity and conflict that emerge when global sport-advertising campaigns are released within local cultural settings.

While the message to international marketers has long been "think global, act local," the complexity of the issue has rarely been explored empirically. Consequently, the purpose of this paper is to move beyond the "think global, act local" adage by examining the politics and contradictions associated with local regulatory control of global sport advertisements in a specific national context, namely, New Zealand. In particular, we: (a) consider the implications of local regulation for advertisers and sport marketers in the age of globalization; (b) discuss the concept of disjuncture in relation to global marketing and advertising; and, (c) examine a specific case study of a global sport advertisement that has been banned in New Zealand due to excessive violence.

While we briefly refer to some of the more amusing blunders that have occurred in cross-cultural advertising, in this paper we aim to move beyond the mere citation of anecdotes. In our case study of the ban imposed against a commercial for apparel manufacturer Nike, we present not only the basis of the formal complaint lodged against the advertisement, but also reveal how the commercial was defended by the company, and how the local regulatory body reached its ultimate decision to ban it. With particular emphasis on local media policy, our overall aim is to provide new insights into the complexity of the relationships between global sport marketing strategies and local cultural values.

Our findings suggest that there are several key implications for practitioners. First, given the escalating competition between transnational corporations in an increasingly cluttered global market, there is likely to be even more pressure on advertisers to seek and exploit controversial cultural themes in order to attract audiences. Second, we demonstrate that sometimes, despite the best of intentions, and after seemingly addressing the specificities of the local, it is difficult, indeed sometimes impossible, to anticipate resistance. Moreover, the challenges are exacerbated when the basis of resistance and the local regulations that support it are replete with contradictions. Third, advertisers should be aware that, as the case of Nike in New Zealand illustrates, in certain instances one individual may sometimes have the power to challenge and contribute to the banning of a seemingly legitimate advertising campaign. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, it is important to consider "local action" as being more than just local consumer response or the effects of formal regulation; rather it is the product of the intricate, dynamic and often contradictory relationship between the two. …