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MARK217: Cross-cultural Marketing

KFC logo
As the world market becomes increasingly competitive (Popovici 2011), it is now imperative that companies market their products to other cultures as well as within their original homeland. There has been a shift in focus from local to global marketing efforts as corporations attempt to become multinational (Schiffman et al 2014). Consumers are becoming more and more assimilated with the rise of globalization, however there is still an inherent need to tailor products and marketing to specific cultures. This requires extensive research and a holistic understanding of what factors influence consumer buying behaviour in other countries.

Marketers need to take into account the numerous cultural characteristics of a country and in most cases, customize products and marketing to suit that particular country’s consumers tastes and needs. These cultural characteristics include language, customs, values and religion. The country of origin can also have a direct effect on the consumer’s willingness to buy the product (Algie 2014). To do this successfully, marketers should conduct a cross-cultural analysis to identify how consumers differ and the implication this will have on their strategic marketing plan (Schiffman et al 2014).

As you would expect, a number of corporation’s failure to understand cultural differences have results in some embarrassing marketing mistakes. Companies need to take into account product modifications (to meet local customs and tastes), customized promotion as well as tailor pricing and distribution techniques “to meet local and economic conditions and customs” (Schiffman et al 2014). There are abundant cases of companies failure to take into account these important cultural factors, particularly when translating company slogans across different cultures. Below are some examples:

-The Dairy Association’s successful ‘Got Milk?’ campaign encouraged the company to expand to Mexico, however the slogan translated to ‘Are you lactating?’ (Qualman 2011)

-KFC’s slogan ‘Finger-lickin’ good’ translated to ‘Eat your finger off’ in Chinese (Fromowitz 2011)

-Pepsi’s slogan ‘Pepsi brings you back to life’ translated in Chinese to ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave’ (Qualman 2011)

-Scandinavian vacuum cleaner designer Electrolux, used the tag-line ‘Nothing sucks like an Electrolux’ in the US campaign (Qualman, 2011)

-A Schweppes tonic water campaign translated the product name into ‘Schweppes toilet water’ (Fromowitz 2013)

To see more like these, go to:,Cultural+blunders+Brands+gone+wrong.aspx

These examples reiterate the importance of research when marketing to other cultures, particularly when translating slogans which may not work across different cultures. Although standardized promotion can be more cost-effective, unless countries are extremely cultural similar (for example America and Australia), it is better to customize products and marketing to avoid embarrassing mistakes.


Algie, J 2014, ‘Week 12: Cross Cultural Consumer Behaviour: An International Perspective’, MARK217, lecture, University of Wollongong, viewed 29 May 2014

Fromowitz, M 2013, ‘Cultural Blunders: Brand gone wrong’, Campaign Asia-Pacific (online), 7 October, viewed 3 June 2014,,Cultural+blunders+Brands+gone+wrong.aspx

Popovici, S 2011, ‘What do we know about cross-cultural marketing?’, Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Brasov. Economic Series. Series V, vol. 4, iss. 2, pp. 57-64

Schiffman, L, O’Cass, A, Paladino, A & Carlson, J 2014, Consumer Behaviour, 6th edn, Pearson Australia, Frenchs Forest, Australia

Qualman, E 2011, ’13 Marketing Translation Mistakes to Learn from’, ClickZ (online), 30 March, viewed 3 June 2014,


BCM310: Diasporic Media and asylum seekers


Diaspora is a Greek term initially used in “scholarship, journalism, and popular discourse, used broadly and at times indiscriminately to denote a number of different kinds of movement and situations of mobility among human populations” (Burgett & Hendler 2007). In simpler terms, diaspora refers to “the broad range of dislocations experienced by several groups of people” (Khorana 2014). An example of this which is prevalent in Australian media is asylum seekers.

As previously discussed, the media plays a crucial role when it comes to informing public thought and perception regarding political, cultural and social issues. This means that the way in which different peoples, in this case, asylum seekers, are framed in the media has a direct effect on moulding public opinion. It has been noted that asylum seekers are only in the first stages of misrepresentation where the content produced around them is for the most part, limited, negative and full of misinformation and prejudices (Branston & Stafford quoted in Khorana 2014). This is decidedly true and is seen in the portrayal of asylum seekers through both images and terminology in news media. Common phrases include “boat people”, “illegals” and “queue jumpers” whilst images primarily are made up of large male groups often positioned near a boat. Asylum seekers are frequently depicted as a dehumanized ‘other’ that is out to ‘threaten’ the nation’s security. This is problematic as it has numerous legal ramifications and can contribute to the increase of race hate and hate crimes towards asylum seekers.

This also brings forth the notion of the right to representation. The right to contribute to the media by producing content that is a fair and accurate representation, is crucial if we wish to see a diversified media discourse. As the media has such a broad control over public thought processes, it is imperative that it demonstrates a number of different viewpoints and stories. 


Burgett, B & Hendler, G 2007, Keywords for American Cultural Studies, New York University Press, NY, USA, p. 81

Khorana, S 2014, ‘Diasporic Media’, BCM310, lecture, University of Wollongong, viewed 19 May 2014

BCM310: Race and the Media- After 9/11

Everything we know about other races and cultures, unless we have experienced them first hand, comes from the media. This means that how different ethnicities are constructed and represented in media has persuasive power in shaping our perception and understanding of that culture. Our entire world is mediated. This is particularly important, as cultures are not only routinely misrepresented but are often not represented at all. In most cases, the political representatives in power dictate a certain perspective which is depicted by the mainstream media, which, in turn, becomes that culture’s dominant discourse. This is problematic, as foreign cultures in Western media, specifically Middle Eastern cultures, are more often than not portrayed in a negative light. The media also tends to stereotype Eastern cultures by painting a simplistic, negative picture of their culture and characteristics.

After 9/11, negative media portrayals of Arabs and Muslims on US television were abundant. This directly aligned with Bush’s political regime – the ‘war on terror’ and the ‘axis of evil’. However, what is surprising is that in addition to this negative portrayal, there was also an increase in the number of sympathetic depictions of Arabs and Muslims at this time (Alsultany 2013). In television and movies, Arabs and Muslims were frequently represented as terrorists or demonized as the evil ‘other’. This was then counteracted with an arguably positive portrayal of the same race later in the same text. This was a deliberate attempt to position America as “an enlightened country” that had “entered a postrace era” (Alsultany 2013, p. 162). However, negative representations are not necessarily best neutralised by someone else’s idea of a ‘positive’ representation (Khorana 2014). Despite being considered for the most part, positive, the portrayals were simplistic and contributed to the justification of discriminatory policies (Alsultany 2013).

It is important that when we access media that depicts other races, that we look at it critically and do not take it at face value. By examining the example of the representation of Arabs and Muslims in American media after 9/11, we can see that these depictions are far from accurate and that stereotypes are not easily subverted with simplistic ‘positive’ representations. Perhaps most importantly, it is crucial that we understand that media is often created and disseminated with specific political agenda’s in mind and that these representations are often far from accurate.


Alsultany, E 2013, ‘Arabs and Muslims in the Media after 9/11: Representation Strategies for a “Postrace” Era’, American Quarterly, Vol. 65, No. 1, pp.161-168

Khorana, S 2014, ‘Race, Ethnicity and the Media’, BCM310, lecture, University of Wollongong, viewed 5 May 2014

BCM310: Creative cities and public spaces- Hadley + Maxwell

Public media spaces and creative cities play an increasingly pivotal role in the way in which we understand and in turn, form an opinion on, a variety of issues, both on a public and personal level. Inextricably linked to this, is the notion of aesthetic journalism. Aesthetic journalism “involves artistic practices in the form of investigation of social, cultural or political circumstances” (Cramerotti 2011). In a contemporary context, we see examples of this everywhere. They come in the form of festivals, exhibitions, installations and more generally through ideas and media (O’Donnell, 2014). Aesthetic journalism works to produce an experience that combines both art and journalism, creating a unique perspective that is open to interpretation, fostering conversation in the public sphere. It also raises questions regarding the future of journalism and how artistic practices are coming to inform it.

The Biennale of Sydney, this year titled You Imagine What You Desire, constructs an immersive artistic experience which deals with a variety of meaningful issues. An artwork by Hadley + Maxwell, called Manners, Habits, and Other Received Ideas is currently being exhibited at Carriageworks. The artwork is comprised of three sculptures, each an assemblage of different parts of existing historical monuments and sculptures which can be found around Sydney. The sculptures were created by pressing Cinefoil (a matte black foil, most commonly used in theatrical lighting) into an existing sculpture, making a virtually identical imprint (Biennale of Sydney 2014).




The work deals primarily with the notion of public memory, encompassing facets of different sculptural monuments which act as “material remnants” that “trace our cultural history” (Turnbull 2014). The facets have been separated from their original narrative and put together to create a new sculpture, reinventing history (Beinnale of Sydney 2014). The work examines the role the public sculpture plays in everyday life where they often go unacknowledged. Aesthetic journalism, such as this, provokes a response from the viewer and asks us to question our everyday surroundings and how this may have been shaped by history. Unlike traditional, passive journalism, immersive artworks require viewers to walk around, look at the sculptures and form a personal interpretation of their meaning. Perhaps most importantly, aesthetic journalism requires society to think critically, creating a more holistic perspective of political and social issues.


Biennale of Sydney 2014, ‘Artists: Hadley + Maxwell’, Biennale of Sydney, viewed 9 April 2014,

Cramerotti, A 2011, ‘What is Aesthetic Journalism’, Aesthetic Journalism: How to Inform without Informing, Intellect, London

O’Donnell, M 2014, ‘Media Space: Cities, Festivals and Installations’, lecture, BCM310, University of Wollongong, 7 April 2014

Turnbull, D 2014, ‘Sydney Biennale artists Hadley + Maxwell are ‘busting’ open the Powerhouse Museum Collection’, Inside the Collection- Powerhouse Museum, 12 March, viewed 9 April 2014,