Tuesday, December 7, 2010



When examining the success of International reality TV shows across countries, we basically agree with the formula of it: Consistent in the basic format which is featuring "real" people's live in "Real life" settings, while adapting the contents to the local cultural and environments, such as using the local castings, languages, fashions, etc.
I found this similar to the U.S. based International Companies overseas strategy: which is the strategy I call "Contingency"

P&G is the Top 1 American brand in China and the Top 1 consumer products brand in China in general. Two key concepts in the P&G cross-cultural advertising strategy are uncovered: cultural threshold and cultural acceptance of American brands.
P&G has well understood the importance that culture and values posses in cross-cultural advertising, and therefore P&G has implemented a successful contingency strategy to sell to China. When taking a closer look at the contingency strategy of P&G, it is clear that P&G integrates the standardization and localization strategies to accommodate the Chinese cultural values in the hopes of facilitating cross-cultural advertising while still maintaining the consistent brand image via the standardization approach. However, the research also found out that by merely applying such contingency strategy does not guarantee success. P&G has got a special formula. P&G not only realizes the need to play the cultural game in cross-cultural advertising, but also has figured out how to play it in the way that Chinese favor. Since Chinese audiences are born and raised in a high-context culture which emphasizes symbolic cultural values, the two key concepts below have significant functions.

First of all, the cultural elements in P&G commercials serve as the Cultural Threshold. It basically means that Chinese consumers would not be able to acknowledge the unique function of the product without citing the cultural context in the commercials as reference of their values, and it is only after the values reflected in the commercials echo with that in the audience can the audience starts to pay attention respectively to the unique function and selling points of the products. Unlike consumers in Western culture who are more likely to focus on the quality and unique function of the products rather than whether or not the values imbedded in the products are consistent with theirs, the high-context culture and the popular symbolic cultural values has determined the way that Chinese consumers accept a brand/product. Chinese consumers have to accept a commercial as a whole, rather than merely focusing on the products and ignoring the sub-culture in it.
P&G commercials are constructed on the fundamental Chinese values which are deeply rooted among the majority of Chinese public. Therefore, the cultural cues in the commercials serve as the threshold to get people to accept the commercial as a whole. Without passing through the cultural threshold, Chinese consumers can hardly consumers be prepared well enough to accept and absorb the selling points of the products. Without passing through the cultural-threshold, the process of appealing to the Chinese consumers can be impeded by any pre-established cultural resistance towards American culture and brands, or any feeling of distance towards an unfamiliar new brand/foreign brand.

As mentioned before, Chinese consumers have to accept a commercial along with the culture and values it incorporated, but it is the next phase that actually leads from mind blowing to behavioral changes. The cultural acceptance basically means that after the Chinese consumers cross over the cultural threshold and are ready to know about the products, the large amount of culture and values imbedded in the commercial, which are tailored to the Chinese consumers’ value systems help lose the cultural distance/feeling of alienation and cultural resistance to the western brands. Thus, the consumers can easily relate the product to any familiar scenarios in their life, and subconsciously loss their cultural resistance or the feeling of alienation. The process of getting over the cultural threshold to accepting the values and cultures conveyed in the commercials actually leads to the purchasing behavior.
Moreover, this process also makes the products’ origin of country ambiguous to the Chinese consumers. From the result of the focus groups, we have already witnessed how much the respondents relate the products to Chinese domestic brands/manufactures/companies. As part of the process of getting audience losing their cultural resistance, the selected P&G commercials emphasize the high-standard quality of the products and down-play the products’ country of origin.

In summary, Chinese consumers take culture and values into account when they make decision to accept a western brand. The commercials, as a way to pitch the western brands to the Chinese consumers have to integrate the unique selling points of the products and the cultures and values as a whole. Merely focusing on the products and ignoring the sub-culture cannot effectively appeal to the target audience. The soft sell-contingency strategy which incorporates Chinese culture and values is proved to be effective for the American brands who want to sell to China.
As the biggest consumer products manufacture in U.S., P&G’s cross-cultural advertising practice has provided one of the successful stories for other American brands who are ambitious for Chinese market.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Reality TV is still TV

Yesterday's presentations sparked some interesting dialogue around issues of both the effects and intentions of reality programming. While some tended to the side that reality television could serve a beneficial purpose, others were more skeptical of its perceived altruistic value. I side with the latter half. To me, whatever the positive effects TV might have for an individual, they are personal. The foundation for any television show is its value as an economic good. Reality television is no exception, it was created because of its economic advantages over programming that needed heavy investments in production. I have no problem with the overweight guy who watches The Biggest Loser and subsequently makes positive lifestyle changes. But TV executives have a handle on this tendency for viewers to seek out themes in shows with which they can reconcile their own identity. And they profit on it through advertising, merchandising, and making even more of the same programming. Although not reality programming, Subway Jared probably made a ton of money through the realization of Subway that they could capitalize by being relatable. As long as people are able to separate what is contrived and what is authentic on TV, then all is fine. But without trying to sound too cynical, many people cannot always make this distinguishment, myself included. It is because producers are so adept at blurring that line, and reality television is still supposed to be just that, real. It is why reality programming is only spreading and why advertisers are increasingly looking to the genre for opportunities to sell their products in the context of real life and 'relatibility.'

Reality TV can absolutely be beneficial, but I don't think those are societal effects. They are limited to individuals who identify with the shows in a positive way. In the case of The Biggest Loser, maybe they join 24 Hour Fitness, eat more Yoplait and Gortons products, lose 20 pounds, and spend a few hundred dollars. In the end, it is wonderful that someone was able to draw positives from watching the show-but the programming itself has no more inherent moral value than a thirty second commercial-they are both created for the same purpose. The societal effects of reality television may have more serious implications such as encouraging superficial judgements of people, creating unrealistic expectations, and perpetuating negative stereotypes of really tan Italian Americans.

Week 13: On Presentations--Reality Television

This week, we didn’t have a whole lot of time for a discussion of the readings, but since the group projects both focused on how cultural products are localized, namely, how television shows cross borders and achieve success, I think it’s a good jumping off point. Audience is the most important factor when trying to market a television show, despite a project’s budget or content. If the audience isn’t the first consideration, they will notice, and not return to a television show. This has been in large part why reality programs are so adaptable cross-culturally. Reality programs, which tend to aim for the lowest common denominator demographically, have a relatability factor which scripted shows can lack (in the sense that they are generally focused on niche markets). Whether reality programs focus on health issues, entertainment, competition, or personal achievement, there will always be an audience for it.

What audiences may not realize, however, is just how orchestrated a reality program is—everything from product placement to the people chosen for the show is a carefully strategized plan designed to create suspense and drama, or entertainment or salacious television that will suck viewers in. This could be representative of a Western culture (where the idea for reality programming originated) which is replete with consumerist messages, or could merely be reflective of a commodification of experience which is necessary in a convergent communication culture which requires profit to stay alive. Either way, the emergence and sustainability of reality television has been an interesting trend to watch.

Palestinian/Israeli Sesame Street!

Something that really I found interesting in the presentation of the second group Yesterday, is the Sesame Street collaborated versions. Specially the one for Palestine Jordan and Israel. at first I thought it is very good and would have been very successful in creating a new generation of children who hold less anger and hatred. Then I gave it another thought, especially among Palestinian desperate children, and i thought it is actually not working. Children in Palestine, who live in a non stop war condition, poverty, and deprivation, can not overcome the negative feelings for the ones who dumped them in this misery. The children who have lost their family members with the Israeli bullets, who have missed their friends at schools because they throw stones at Israeli tanks, and who see Israeli soldiers and bulldozers destroying their homes and their family properties to live in camps! The children who coop and adapt to their pathetic reality because of Israel. I dont think these children can overcome their negative feelings towards Israel. In fact, I think a human would accept to even forgive or forget their suffrage.
In fact, when I thought more about it, I think the sesame street collaboration was actually to normalize the situation for Israeli children to live and be around Palestinian ones. Children in Israel also live in fear from palestinians to certain limit, that the children program would want to overcome. But their fear is incomparable with the fear that Palestinian children live in. The WALL that sieges Palestinians in Gaza makes the children of Israel to live in peace, but on the other side it imprison the Palestinian ones, it sets them apart of their schools, families and lives. I actually think that this collaboration is very prejudice and very in humane, to frame the enemy as friend, to embody false thoughts in children who see disasters in their realities, it is just ridiculous and absurd ! its a mere failure. Above all that, the fact that the studios of the Sesame street were destroyed hampers down the whole story.

I think collaborative TV shows must be mutual and need to work at the same page and same agenda, in order to achieve its goals successfully .