Cross-Cultural Content Analysis of Advertising from the United States and India
This cross-cultural content analysis (which merged traditional content analysis method with semiotic concepts) compared advertising in the United States (a highly individualistic and low-context culture) and India (a highly collectivist and high-context culture). The study examined the characteristics, differences and similarities in advertising strategies and expressions. A stratified random sample of advertisements for consumer products was selected from nationally circulated news magazines and business magazines of each country between January 1993 and December 1994 (Time and Business Week from the United States; India Today and Business India from India).
This study found that there were significant differences in the way the two cultures produced advertising messages and that differential cultural values were reflected in their advertising expressions. The findings revealed that the U.S. advertisements utilized direct rhetorical styles, individualistic visual stances, sexual portrayals of women and comparative approaches more often than their Indian counterparts. The Indian ads utilized indirect rhetorical styles, collective visual stances and stereotypical portrayals of women more frequently than did the U.S. ads.
The evidence of specific cross-cultural differences suggests that perhaps the proponents of "standardization of international advertising" have promoted an oversimplification. This cross-cultural study suggests that caution should be exercised when considering standardization in advertising and other forms of promotional communication between divergent cultures.