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Hilfiger in China
by Vladimir Djurovic| Shanghai, China
Monday, 28 June 2010
tags: asia, clients & brands, culture, global vectors, making sense
In order for advertising to be effective, it must convey the intended message. Semiotics, the study of signs and symbols and their meaning, offers valuable tools for analyzing advertising to uncover strengths or weaknesses of ad campaigns within different cultural contexts. However, since the codes used in this example of fragrance advertising are not dominant codes in the category of lifestyle/perfume in China, there is a disconnect between the codes as they would communicate in the Western and Chinese cultural contexts.
Let’s take a look at a global advertising campaign by Tommy Hilfiger. Hilfiger promotes his cologne using the image of a rugged, handsome man driving a vintage motorcycle alone in the desert. From a Western perspective, this image expresses individuality, independence, freedom, and adventure. The codes inspired by each image, or “sign”, in the advertisement are shown below:
Let’s compare the message being conveyed in both the Western and the Chinese context.
* Motorcycle: Whereas in a Western context a motorcycle represents freedom, adventure, and speed, in a Chinese context it is considered dangerous, noisy, and low status.
* Open Landscape: For Westerners, the open landscape portrays independence and lifestyle enhancement. From the Chinese view, the countryside may be perceived as dirty and dusty.
So, in order to convey the intended message to Chinese male consumers, the following switches from Western to Chinese cultural codes could be used: (Old) Motorcycle to (New) Car/Jeep; Alone to With friends; Speed to Leisure; Rough to Smooth; Freedom to Responsibility; Satisfaction (personal) to Status (acknowledgement).
By using semiotic analysis as a tool, companies can more effectively assess whether their advertising campaigns will be successful or not in different cultural contexts. In addition, for campaigns that have already been run, they can analyze why they were successes or failures in local markets.
© Vladimir Djurovic 2010