Advertising and Society: Global Issues

Article excerpt

Advertising and Society: Global Issues. Katherine Toland Frith and Barbara Mueller. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2003. 305 pp. $29.95 pbk. The book's objectives are to (1) introduce the societal, political, cultural, and regulatory issues surrounding advertising practice in today's global context, using data and examples from around the world; (2) explore the representation of women and minorities in advertising, as well as advertising and children; and (3) address issues associated with advertising controversial products in a wider global community.

This is a daunting task that, if achieved, would boost scholarship on international/ intercultural communication and advertising substantially. Advertising and Society: Global Issues begins with the contention that advertising helps drive and shape globalization in an era when information and communication technologies are contracting distance among societies at an accelerating pace. The authors state technological innovations are bringing people closer, educating them about others, allowing people to share common experiences, and helping them to cut through cultural barriers among distinct people.

Chapter 1 discusses the history of globalization, the rise of multinational corporations and transnational mass media organizations, and underscores the idea that transnational organizations from the West and Japan play a dominant role in world economy by promoting capitalist ideologies. The chapter contends international advertising is capable of influencing the cultural values and socioeconomic development of a society.

In Chapter 2, Frith and Mueller reflect on the localization/standardization debate with the goal of providing direction. Drawing mostly from past studies on the United States, Western Europe, and Asian Tigers, they provide a comprehensive overview of intercultural advertising studies without offering a clear conclusion. Chapter 3 continues to examine the subject of culture and advertising, exploring how well-established cultural elements, such as verbal and non-verbal communication, are used in designing promotional messages.

Chapter 4 addresses the relationship between advertising and the political, economic, and media environment. Offering a detailed explanation of the influence of advertising on economic development and the influence of economic development on advertising, the authors used World Bank data on the GNP per capita and purchasing power parity of countries in Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Asian Tigers to explain their economic classifications.

Chapter 5 deals with government regulation of advertising in various countries, stating advertising is regulated to protect the interests and culture of societies from unbridled business behavior. The chapter examines laws governing advertising in the United States, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, the European Union, and the Gulf Cooperation Council. It explains that corporations and trade and advertising associations have developed codes of ethics and guidelines in more than fifty countries aimed at self-regulation in order to curtail increased government intervention.

Chapter 6 provides a history of consumer movements. It describes efforts undertaken by supra-national organizations like the World Health Organization and various arms of the United Nations to establish guidelines governing the practice of international advertising. While regulating international advertising will be difficult because the aim of a capitalist enterprise is to make profit, the chapter contends consumer movements have always been able to bring change and remain capable of bringing improvement worldwide in regard to the activities of marketers and the quality of goods they market. …