Multinational companies wrestle with a number of challenges in developing global communications programs. They must decide whether the product is appropriate for a country. They must make sure the market segment they address is both legal and customary. They must decide if the style of the ad is acceptable, and they must decide whether ads should be created at headquarters or locally.
1. Product – Many products are restricted or forbidden in certain parts of the world. Beer, wine, and spirits cannot be advertised or sold in Muslim countries. Tobacco products are subject to strict regulation in many countries.
2. Market Segment – US toy makers were surprised to learn that in many countries (Norway and Sweden, for example) no TV ads may be directed at children under 12. Sweden lobbied hard to extend that ban to all EU member countries in 2001 but failed. To play if safe, McDonald’s advertises itself as a family restaurant in Sweden.
3. Style – Comparative ads, while acceptable and even common in the United States and Canada, are less commonly used in the United Kingdom, unacceptable in Japan, and illegal in India and Brazil. PepsiCo had a comparative taste test ad in Japan that was refused by many TV stations and eventually led to a lawsuit.
4. Local or Global – Today, more and more multinational companies are attempting to build a global brand image by using the same advertising in all markets. When Daimler AG and Chrysler merged to become the world’s fifth-largest automaker, they ran a three week ad campaign in more than 100 countries consisting of a 12-page magazine insert, 9 newspaper spreads, and a 24-page brochure that was sent to business, government, and union leaders and to the news media. The campaign’s tagline was “Expect the extraordinary,” and it featured people from both companies working together.
Companies that sell their products in different countries with different cultures must be prepared to vary their messages. In advertising its hair care products in different countries, Helene Curtis varies its messages. Middle-class British women wash their hair frequently, whereas the opposite is true among Spanish women. Japanese women avoid over-washing their hair for fear of removing protective oils.