Thursday, November 11, 2010

Christmas Ad

In "Global Communication and the Nation-State" by Elizabeth Hanson, she talks about framing of the news in which the news "frames events in a manner design to elicit public support" (pg 103). Looking at the four ways of framing described: cultural congruence, degree of consensus, amount of control over the flow of information and the nature of the event; I wondered if the principles of framing could also be applied to advertisements.

I came upon this thought at work (were many of my thoughts on readings occur) when watching what my company calls their "company programing". Included amongst its heave logo, slogan and values reinforcement there is a preview section of upcoming advertisement that will be broadcast across the nation in the weeks to come. Christmas being around the corner, the focus was linking home improvement projects with Christmas decorating. I was surprised to see the companies possibly first commercial solidly in EspaƱol to be featured in Mexico and on Spanish speaking channels in the US in limited quantity.

I found three distinctive features of the commercial that differed from its US counterpart in possibly negative ways. First, the imagery, nativity scene decoration, santa and then a Feliz Navidad sign on the lawn at the end. Now while these are just symbols of various traditions in the culture its also doesn't cover anything in the cultural context beyond the stereotypical. Unlike the american version, family is almost entirely missing and the shopper near the end was portrayed as someone hitting a bargain sale at machismo I assure you. Granted I am far from being a expert of Spanish, Mexican or South American culture but it seemed to be lacking some core values and I'm sure one of them is family.

Second, the commercial speaker was FAST, while obviously fluency is a given, the music and tempo didn't match the imagery, as if the music from the US commercial was thrown in along with the announcing voice hap haphazardly. Almost in a way of saying, we could care less about the quality as long as for 15 seconds you hear this commercial. There was even a spot near the end were the voice almost didn't make the cut at the end in which it was announcing the discount on exchanging lights out for new LEDs. I believe this is could be considered a control on the flow of information, in which the limitation of the programing and long with the way it is framed show that the value of the commercial is less important then the fact that its in another language (note I have seen their soccer commercial and the quality was WAY better).

I remember clearly listening and watching this commercial over three times to see if it was just a value judgement on my part but still I can't help but feel that the framing of the ad elcited a very culturally insensitive feel, void of the importance of the add and suggesting that by its very nature as an ad for a limited viewing space that it wasn't worth the effort they purposely put into the English version. So I ask, what does this kind of advertising say about the company and the customers its aimed at? Can we use Hanson's suggested framework of news to evaluate it?

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