Communicating the message internationally – the example of Dove

Unilever discovered that a message which succeeds in one region might not in another in 2007 when its “real beauty” campaign for Dove soap performed well in the U.S. and Europe but fell flat in China. The campaign, which attacks the unattainable beauty of models in ads–models whose beauty  is often achieved through digital manipulation of images– was applauded by feminist and advertising groups worldwide. When it did not succeed in China, the company conducted research to learn why and discovered that Chinese women felt they could attain the beauty of billboard models if they tried hard enough.

As a result, the company abandoned the Chinese “real beauty” concept and introduced an entirely different marketing campaign to Chinese customers. Unilever launched a Chinese version of the popular U.S. ABC-TV show Ugly Betty, negotiating exclusive ads and product placements during the show. The company tested awareness of its products after the first season of Ugly Wudi, and found that unaided awareness of Dove rose 44 percent among target consumers, a number that tripled among those who watched the program. In addition, after the first season ended, shipments of a specific product, Dove Shower Cream, were up 21 percent over the same period the year before.

This is an excerpt from Dr. Czinkota’s book Global Business: Positioning Ventures Ahead, co-authored by Dr. Ilkka Ronkainen.

Michael R Czinkota and Ilkka A Ronkainen, Global Business: Positioning Ventures Ahead (New York: Routledge, 2011), pg. 126. 

Global Advertising Considerations

The two main concerns when selecting advertising media are reaching the appropriate target audience and doing so efficiently as measured by the cost per thousand (CPM). If the company is in a position to define a target audience clearly in terms of demographics or product-related variables, the media choice will be easier. The more targeted you can become when describing the most likely customer, the easier it is to identify what they read, watch, or listen  to or how to reach them through their key influencers.

Do not make decisions by CPM alone, though. With an integrated marketing communication mindset, media work synergistically. For example, advertisements in publications and directories might drive customers and prospects to a website, while publicity can educate about a product category and advertising provides brand-specific information.

As in the U.S., international advertising vehicles include business and trade journals, consumer magazines, broadcast media outlets, the Internet, and directories. Media availability and spending may vary dramatically around the world, with the U.S. spending more money on advertising than most other advertising nations combined. According to ZenithOptimedia, the fastest growing region includes Central and Eastern Europe while Latin America is seeing more moderate growth in advertising spending. China and Russia are moving up on the list of largest advertising markets, with China estimated at fifth place in 2008 and Russia expected to be in seventh place by the end of 2009.

How and where they money is spent varies, too. Some Latin American nations have the heaviest concentration of their advertising in television, while print media dominates in some Scandinavian lands. Cable and satellite enhance TV penetration in affluent markets, while radio remains a strong medium in many developing markets. Outdoor and transit advertising, cinema ads, and the Internet also compete for a share of the marketing communications budget in many global markets. Interactive telephone and TV are on the horizon, too.

One of the challenges for the international advertiser is the need for market-specific information. A medium popular in one country might well be significantly less important in another nearby, forcing the marketer to, for example, use radio in one market and print in another, which increases production costs. Currency exchange rate fluctuations also complicate media planning and budgeting.

Some of the regional regulations include limits on the amount of time available for ads. In Italy, for example, the state-owned and commercial TV channels have different maximum advertising limits. Other regulations affect how content is presented. In Italy, unlike the U.S., there is a strict separation between programs and commercials. Many countries restrict gender stereotypes and comparative claims.

Thanks to cable and satellite transmissions,  the media in neighboring countries is increasingly crossing global boundaries, generating significant implications for global marketers. The viewer’s choices have expanded, leading to competition among government-run public channels, state channels from neighboring nations, private channels, and pan-European channels. As a result, marketers must make certain that their advertising communicates effectively not only in the region where they make the buy but also across boundaries. This makes ad creation and media buying more challenging, frustrating marketers and their advertising agencies. Agencies often must produce several separate versions of a campaign to comply with various national regulations. As in the U.S., tobacco, alcohol, and pharmaceutical products are the most regulated in Europe.

This is an excerpt from Dr. Czinkota’s book Global Business: Positioning Ventures Ahead, co-authored by Dr. Ilkka Ronkainen.

Michael R Czinkota and Ilkka A Ronkainen, Global Business: Positioning Ventures Ahead (New York: Routledge, 2011), pg. 124-126.

Why Utilize Trade Shows?

Trade shows or fairs are a long-standing European tradition and one of the most significant cost items in a global marketing budget. A trade show is typically an event at which manufacturers, distributors, and other vendors display their products or describe their services to customers, prospects, suppliers, industry associates, and the trade press. Whether or not the company should participate depends on the type of business relationships desired within a particular country. When looking only for one-time or short-term sales, the expense might not be worth it. But if the goal is a long-term investment, it is probably worth the cost.

Companies participate in trade shows because:

  • They provide an excellent opportunity for introducing, promoting, and demonstrating new products to many people efficiently.
  • Appearing at shows helps generate goodwill and face-to-face customer contact.
  • It provides an opportunity for “[waving] the company flag” in front of the competition.
  • Participating helps boost sales force and distributor’s  morale.
  • It is a cost-effective way to meet with and screen potential intermediaries in a new-to-the-company-market.
  • Attending a show is an excellent way to meet government officials and decision-makers. In fact, the host government of the Chinese Export Commodities Fair held twice a year expects exporters to participate.
  • They offer potential for market research and gathering competitive intelligence because rivals are participating in shows, too.
  • There are opportunities to obtain data that helps marketers evaluate the effectiveness of a promotional campaign.
  • They can reach a large number of sales prospects in a brief period of time at a reasonable cost per contact. Some 82 percent of all attendees of the average trade fair have the power to recommend or making final purchasing decisions. In addition, people are there because they have a specific interest in the exhibits.
  • It can be a good place to find suppliers.

Capitalize on trade show participation by inviting key prospects to visit the booth or even better, the company’s hospitality suite where there is more privacy for negotiations. Use incentives to attract people to the booth; have systems in place to track leads generated and to evaluate show performance.

This is an excerpt from Dr. Czinkota’s book Global Business: Positioning Ventures Ahead, co-authored by Dr. Ilkka Ronkainen.

Michael R Czinkota and Ilkka A Ronkainen, Global Business: Positioning Ventures Ahead (New York: Routledge, 2011), pg. 130-132.

Let us know what YOU think about trade shows, leave a comment below…