Cultural Values and Success

One of the many aspects of intercultural communication that I’m fascinated by is adverstising across cultures. There are legendary stories of how a lack of cultural understanding has caused companies to lose money and become embarassed (a quick Google search yields the following results from Culturosity and Kwintessential). While it has been debated whether such stories are fact or fiction, the concept itself is undeniably interesting. It’s quite obvious that one should not offend the culture of the desired client. But even more interesting is how to go above and beyond the requirements necessary so that the clients will embrace your product. One specific instance is film. I’ve often wondered what beloved films can tell us about a culture. What makes a certain film a success in a certain country? Is it because it accurately reflects the culture, beliefs and values of its people? How then to explain the phenomenal success of certain films across numerous cultures? Take Titanic, for instance, the highest-grossing film of all time. What made it so popular? Perhaps it detailed universal themes that people, regardless of their culture, could identify with. Is that, then, the key to success when advertising or marketing a product internationally? Just how much does knowledge of cultural values help to not only prevent disaster, but enhance success?

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