Marketing Messages Across Geographies and Cultures

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I recently had the good fortune to be sent on a business trip to Sydney, Australia. Following my long days in the office I would often come back to the hotel and, after finishing homework for IMC 615, put my feet up and watch a little local television. I was amused to see the commercials for familiar brands with either different names or different positioning from those in the U.S.

Hungry Jack's logo

Hungry Jack’s, the brand name of the Burger King franchise in Australia and New Zealand.

Having already taken Multicultural Marketing as one of my electives I have studied how a singular brand message does not resonate with different cultures in the same way. Often this means a company markets different messages, or even products, to audiences in different geographies or cultural groups. Sometimes an entirely different name is required in order to differentiate in the local market, such as the example of Burger King. When they decided to expand operations into Australia they found out the name was already trademarked by a take-out restaurant in Adelaide, so they use the brand Hungry Jack’s. Interestingly, this name is derived from Hungry Jack, because it was already trademarked by Burger King’s parent company, Pillsbury, as a pancake mix brand in the U.S.

Even though the name is different, the brand is still clearly Burger King to this American. Everything from the logo, to the use of product names like Whopper, align with the Burger King brand. Watch the below commercial and decide for yourself:

Other times it is the message that is changed to resonate more with local culture or traditions. I was taken off guard when I first saw the below commercial for Ancestry.com while in Sydney. I thought maybe it was a Saturday Night Live spoof at first, but later realized that Australians have a pretty good acceptance and sense of humor about the country’s beginnings as a destination for convicts and criminals. In fact, some of Australia’s most notable historic figures came to the country originally as prisoners. Once I had that understanding this ad for Ancestry.com didn’t seem quite so satirical. Still, I do get a chuckle out of the tag line “find your convict ancestors at ancestry.com!”

These are just two examples of the localization of well-known brands and marketing messages I saw while traveling in Australia. What examples have you seen in your travels?

P.S. – If this type of subject interests you, I encourage you to consider adding IMC  622 – Multicultural Marketing to your list of electives.

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