Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

Reshaping American Identity through Advertising Standardization vs. Localization

Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

Reshaping American Identity through Advertising Standardization vs. Localization

Article excerpt

Abstract: Our study focuses on the impact of American advertising on local consumers and industry and discusses the relationship between standardization and localization on the global market. Although America seems to be a hybridized, 'McDonald-ized' reality, it is in fact grounded on a multicultural and social mix that deems it highly recognizable. Consequently, we argue that reconstructing American identity means sharing similar values with other cultural spaces, whose history, religion, and social customs require a different approach to daily life and finding new means of expression.

Our main argument is that advertising disseminates its message in foreign markets and that American campaign models were implemented despite cultural differences. Therefore, we will study the way American heterogeneity becomes homogeneous in the advertising realm, and explain the relationship between standardization and localization in promoting brand values. Our analysis relies on examples of the post-1990 Romanian advertising revolution that showcase the global American influence on Romania's local industry as reflected by celebrations (Valentine's Day, Man's Day) and other American symbols (the cowboy image, the impact of the English language) present in locally broadcast advertisements.

Consequently, our paper asks a very controversial question: Does market globalization embed the American spirit in indigenous cultures through advertising, bypassing local culture, ideology and society?

Key Words: advertising, standardization, religion, society, globalization, hybridization, Americanization.


Before investigating the Americanization of cultures and societies, we should explain the basis for this research, as "the land of promise" has always been open to challenges. Our area of interest is advertising, which encourages consumerism and hedonistic lifestyles. Obviously, the top world brands (Levis, Coca Cola, Pepsi, McDonald's, Ford, Procter & Gamble) were born in the US, where the competition was very strong and the first professional advertising campaigns were created. These brands were at first local, but, when American solders crossed the Atlantic in World War I bringing Coca-Cola with them, everything changed.

Many factors justify the continuing influence of American industry on developing campaigns and accepting new values. Initially, consumers were mainly interested in products, and product features were associated with their country of origin. Later, consumers started choosing products according to brand names, which satisfy other types of personal needs. Today, products unite consumers in global categories who share the same lifestyles relying on the respective brand image. The local features of each market have been taken over by the trend of globally expressing brand values. Nevertheless, our discussion regards both local and global brands, because differences have softly dissolved. Returning to the Americanization phenomenon, we will answer the following questions:

* How are American culture, society, and religion involved in global campaigns?

* Why does the American world need re-construction?

* What are the tools of standardization in advertising campaigns?

* How can global brands better integrate into local markets?

To answer these questions, we must first briefly investigate the background of "cocalization" in American culture, society, and religion throughout history.

Researchers lend much significance to globalization, connecting it with other perspectives. George Ritzer associated the globalized world with the metaphor of liquidity, as compared to flexible solidity: "Globalization is a trans-planetary process or set of processes involving increasing liquidity and the growing multidirectional flows of people, objects, places and information as well as the structures they encounter and create that are barriers to or expedite those flows."1 "Solidity" refers to the age before globalization, when people did not enjoy travelling or leaving their homes, because they were conservative and not experiential. …

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