Cross-cultural product advertising presents a single product or brand to people in different cultures at once. To be most effective in advertising to different cultures, it can be necessary to tweak ads or create separate messages for each targeted culture or subculture. Understanding the nuances of each culture in which you advertise is a crucial foundation for cross-cultural product advertising. Consult with cultural experts and natives to ensure that your use of language, imagery, communication style and media resonate with your target audiences.


Consider your use of language when tailoring ads for people in different cultures. Clear communication is a key to making connections across cultures, and the idiosyncratic use of language can make all the difference. If you are targeting different subcultures within one language group, consider how dialect, vocabulary and conventions of speech differ between them. If you need to translate messages into different languages, use professionals whenever possible, and use different translators to perform back-translation checking.


Analyze all of the images in your ad for cultural acceptance. Be aware that different colors and settings evoke different emotions in different cultures. According to a 2006 study by the University of Wollongon, for example, people in the western world tend to associate the color white with purity and happiness, while people in Asian countries associate it with death. Consider using different actors and actresses to make personal connections with different groups. Understand how different cultures interpret the writing, directing and acting style. For example, an advertisement with a red motif featuring a professional baseball player next to a pickup truck can evoke a very different response from American males than it would for men in France or India.

Communication Style

Adjust your communication style to suit the regional customs of each targeted culture. Know whether each culture prefers direct or indirect communication, aggressive or passive calls to action, emotional or rational appeals, and a fast or slow pace of speech. Capturing these nuances can help to establish connections with consumers, since you will be speaking to them in familiar ways. Using a dissonant communication style can cause viewers to miss the full message or even to feel offended.


Consider media-usage trends in each target culture before developing your ad-placement budget. Some cultures spend more time watching television; others spend more time reading print publication, while still others prefer interactive digital media. Place your advertisements in media outlets that will capture the largest audiences in each cultural area, or at least those preferred by your target customers. A television ad may be the best way to reach American teens, for example, while mobile advertising might reach more Japanese teens.

Social Norms

Consult with regional cultural specialists to gain a full understanding of cultural taboos, emotional issues and points of cultural dissension. You do not have to completely avoid things like religion, politics and social commentary in your ads, but only enter this territory if you fully understand the culture. Some cultures enjoy political satire, for example, while others might see it as an insult to their national identity.