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Do Advertisements Dictate Culture - A Case on Indian Advertisements*

CASE STUDY, ADVERTISING
ET Cases - GSMC, 16 Pages

Case Preview

Do Advertisements Dictate Culture – A Case on Indian Advertisements

 

India as a country enjoys its diversity. Every nook and corner of the country has its own diverse features like language, religion, dance, music, etc. The Indian culture often labeled as an amalgamation of several cultures, spans across the Indian subcontinent and has been influenced by a history that is several millennia old. The consumption behavior of an Indian consumer is often entwined with the dynamic culture prevailing in the country. Culture includes all aspects of the society. The impact of culture is so natural and ingrained that its influence on behavior is rarely noted. For example, the IT boom in India has brought in a natural cultural transformation in Bengaluru, which was not noticed initially. Now there is a public outcry on the ill-effects of this transformation. Beliefs of past slowly are being replaced by the newer ones, which reminds us of a metaphor that says, if you want to enter a new life, you must die in another. The so-called revolution in technology coupled with globalization has brought a radical change in mentalities of people and ways of conceiving world.

A country, which had a history of successful cross-cultural interactions in the past is now under the threat of extremism. The superficial understanding of other culture fostered through the virtual world of internet, television and electronic media compels people to behave differently. This has also reduced the rural-urban cultural divide in the country. An AC Nielsen survey has found that the sale of noodles, sanitary napkins and shampoos in the rural India surpassed the urban India. Young girls from rural India wearing jeans are not a rare sight in India today. They watch channels like MTV and visit McDonalds and KFC regularly.

The biggest irony in the Indian culture is that despite the advent of modernization religious bent has witnessed an increase. The public outrages happening now in connection with the meat ban is an example of this. Some festivals like the Rakshabandhan, Karva Chouth, etc., which were regional once is celebrated throughout India. Indians still wait for auspicious time for important purchases and also rely on advices of astrologers on major decisions in life. Consumer behavior is directly affected by religion in terms of products that are symbolically and ritualistically associated with the celebration.......................

Teaching Note Preview

Do Advertisements Dictate Culture – A Case on Indian Advertisements

 

Synopsis

Advertisements always have a role in influencing the consumer behavior. They provide needed information as well as perceive the consumers towards the product. They evidently portray the culture of the country. Any cultural transformation leads to a change in consumer behavior. Many a time consumer gets skeptical about the  advertisements as they show a different cultural representation. The confused consumer always do harm to the company.

This case study discusses the role of advertisement in two dimensions. Whether its role is to reflect culture or dictate culture. This has been discussed with the help of 28 Indian commercials over the years.

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • • Understand culture and discuss the role of three levels of subjective culture (Supranational culture, National culture and Group culture)
  • • How culture (enculturation and acculturation) is learned through rituals, customs and beliefs and examine how the enculturation and acculturation are done by advertisements
  • • Understand ethical dimension in advertisements

 

Case Positioning and Setting

This case study can be used in MBA, Executive MBA or Executive Development Programs, for Consumer Behavior Course as well as Advertising Course:

  • • Consumer Behavior Course: “Influence of Culture on Consumer Behavior” – To sensitize the participants regarding the cultural transformations in the country
  • • Advertisement Course: 5 Ms of advertising, giving importance to developing advertisements and the role of culture in development of an advertising campaigns

 

Assignment Questions

  • I. In your opinion, do advertisements dictate culture?
  • II. Substantiate your opinions with relevant arguments. (Individual submission through learning management software like Moodle- to be answered in 500 words maximum.). Theoretical concepts of acculturation and enculturation can be used for explaining the question.
  • III. .....................

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Abstract

This case study is meant to introduce the students/participants to the concept of culture and how advertisements dictate culture. Around 28 advertisements were analyzed and this case study enables the participant to understand the change in culture and the role of advertisements in the formation of culture.

The critical elements of culture as well as the various dimensions of advertisements are included as pedagogical objectives. Culture of a country denotes the way of living of that country. It usually depicts the general customs and beliefs of the country. Various studies across world have proved that culture has a profound effect in consumer behavior. Culture and subculture normally define the purchase preferences of a consumer. India has a unique culture dominated by sub-cultures like caste, religiosity, etc. Since long time this has been used well in Indian advertisements. In fact, the 'Hamara Bajaj' advertisement of 1980s or the 'Lalitaji' of Surf or Complan Boy Complan Girl of 1990s all portrays the culture of India to the best of effect. The advertisement of Luna reflected the typical middle-class ambition. As time passed by the advertisements also changed accordingly. The new advertisements reflect the cultural transformation in India. The Whirlpool homemaker avoided all the stereo types of an Indian homemaker and is shown in a fresh approach. The Hero Pleasure is also to some extent new in that series. Similarly, the Bharat Matrimony advertisement and the Tanishq (second marriage) advertisement were attempts to show the cultural transformation. We can show further examples like the McDonald series of  advertisements portraying Indian culture. Even though advertisements are doing a fair job in reflecting the culture of India, they sometimes seem to dictate culture. The latest TVCs of Anouk Ethnic Wear (Myntra), Airtel My Boss and P&G's Touch the Pickle have triggered controversial discussions as it tries to dictate a culture which is not prevalent in India. The case study discusses all dimensions citing various Indian advertisements of yesteryears and modern.



Pedagogical Objectives

  • To understand culture and discuss the role of three levels of subjective culture (Supranational culture, National culture and Group culture)
  • To discuss and debate as to how culture (enculturation and acculturation) is learned through rituals, customs and beliefs and examine how the enculturation and acculturation are done by advertisements
  • To understand ethical dimension in advertisements

Case Positioning and Setting
This case study can be used in MBA, Executive MBA or Executive Development Programs, for Consumer Behavior Course as well as Advertising Course:

  • Consumer Behavior Course: “Influence of Culture on Consumer Behavior” - To sensitize the participants regarding the cultural transformations in the country
  • Advertisement Course: 5 Ms of advertising, giving importance to developing advertisements and the role of culture in development of an advertising campaigns

* GSMC 2016, IIM Raipur

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