Does Model Ethnicity Matter in International Advertising? A Literature Review on Model Ethnicity and Related Topics: An Abstract
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A literature review was conducted surrounding model ethnicity in the context of international advertising. Related literature and research are additionally reviewed in order to understand the diverse views and evaluations of model ethnicity in the international context. Varying factors can affect a viewer’s interpretation of ethnic model image, such as the level and strength of consumer ethnic identification, perceived or real threats to identity motives, or an individual’s culturally influenced self-concept. The literature was divided into four predominant research topics, and they are as follows: ethnic minorities in a majority region; a Western vs. Eastern context; beauty ideals and roles; and model ethnicity effects on product evaluations. Each of the four main topics is divided into subtopics and a decision tree is presented in order to organize and categorize the extant research. Determining the effectiveness of model ethnicity in advertising practice is a complex problem as many factors contribute to the viewer’s perception and subsequent evaluation of the advertisement.
In addition to the contributions to scholarship, many practical implications can be used for marketing managers, such as advice for when to standardize with a particular type of model and when to adapt with a local ethnic model. For instance, in places where a minority group has low ethnic identification or is highly acculturated to the majority group, standardized marketing with the use of an ethnic model that is a member of the majority ethnicity might be the most effective model to use in advertisements. The same can be said about targeted marketing practices. Those who have high ethnic identification or those who felt their distinctiveness was under threat, such as found by Cano and Ortinau (2012) in the study of Hispanics’ response to multicultural advertising, may respond better to targeted marketing practices. Additionally, consumers in countries that have high power distance or strong vertical independent self-concepts, such as inferred about those is Japan, may respond best to Western models used in status appeal advertisements. In both individualistic and collectivist cultures, appeals to individualism will be effective for advertising personal use products. Appeals to individualism in Eastern countries can often be created through the use of Western models in “individualistic” portrayals. Marketing managers can benefit from the use of this information in choosing what type of model to use in advertisements.