There are many vast differences among the numerous cultural value systems, as most “value systems are rooted strongly in history and appear to be resistant to change” (De Mooij, 2003). However, if a culture has a significant influence on the development of another nation’s culture, is it surprising that those same values could very well transfer over? In the newer developed culture that adopted traits of a “mother” nation, is it not plausible for such aspects as advertisement and communication strategies to hold potential for applicability to both cultures alike? As Canada is a part of United Kingdom’s Commonwealth, it is a logical assumption that they inherited cultural traits and attributes commonly associated with those from the UK. Invoking the question whether they have they lost these cultural notions over their years of independence?
According to Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions (Hofstede, 2001) individualism is an apparent cultural characteristic that both the United Kingdom and Canada still presently share. An international communicator could make a reasonable presumption that advertisement and communication strategies from the United Kingdom, being a mother nation to Canada, can be successfully utilized in Canada. In spite of this, there are little resources available to support such an acclamation. For such reason, the objective of this paper is to identify cultural attributes shared between the United Kingdom and Canada. Thus engaging the question – What significant features in respective Crimestoppers campaigns, reflect cultural similarities of both Canada and United Kingdom?
Purpose This research report will aim to establish significant comparable characteristics of Canada and United Kingdom’s national resemblance over Hofstede’s cultural individualism. Therefore, analyzing of adverts from both countries’ Crimestoppers programs, assessing over the traits epitomized through Geert Hofstede’s individualism/collectivism cultural dimension and criteria of the high/low-context culture. This will give insight of cultural comparable characteristics from the adverts, which bares practical relevance for international communicators planning advertisements in both or each of the respective countries. The combination of distinguishing major similar characteristics evident in such adverts, and weighing them with the attributes stated in Hofstede’s dimensions of Canada and United Kingdom can act as a pertinent source for future cross-culture comparisons. 2|Page
Theoretical Framework Culture typically holds a fuzzy perception, which makes effective marketing and advertising communication difficult in adapting to a foreign or international target market’s cultural values. For communication practitioners to assess their strategy’s affect on another cultural market there needs to be a basis in which they can conduct such evaluation. Such a basis for cross-examining countries does exist and is held in the highest regard for cultural comparison. The basis for said desire, is in Geert Hofstede’s 5 cultural dimensions: Power Distance (PDI), Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV), Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS), Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) and Long-term versus Short-term orientation (LTO). These dimensions are used by many in the subject of cross-cultural communications; one individual in particular whose cross-cultural theories are deeply rooted from these 5 dimensions is Marieke de Mooij.
As exclaimed by de Mooij (2003) “Countries can now be compared by means of dimensional scales and culture…in particular Hofstede’s (1991, 2001) dimensions of national culture are useful because of availability of country scores for a large number of countries” and the characteristics these dimensions implicate. Geert Hofstede’s 5-dimension model plays such a significant role in this research paper as it is from here that the main basis of the cultural connection concept originates. As one can see, Individualism – of the IDV cultural dimension – is where the United Kingdom and Canada excel the most (see Figure 2, Appendix). Thus, that dimension is most applicable in crossculturally comparing the two nation’s programs to determine dominant characteristics in their similarities.
In accordance with Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimension country scores, United Kingdom and Canada rank relatively high in Individualism of the IDV dimension – with scores of 89 and 80 respectively – making it a top dimension to match the two. There are several factors pertaining to individualism that define an individualist’s ideals versus that of a collectivist. Four noteworthy merits of importance to individualistic ideals are privacy, individual initiative, culpability, and independence (de Mooij, 2010). Several researchers’ works have associated these aspects reflecting traits commonly found with individualism favouring nations. To list ac couple of said researchers: Lamoreaux and Morling (2012), Zandpour (1994), Albers-Miller and Gelb (1996), de Mooij herself (1998), and Dahl (2004).
While the four aforementioned factors are a good basis, another criterion is needed to compare Individualism of United Kingdom and Canada in order to gain a valuable insight into potential for cross culture communication strategies. This category compliments Hofstede’s individualistic and collectivistic culture dimension, and is another worthy measure in classifying a nation’s different depiction on individualism and collectivism. The vast difference between individualistic and collectivistic cultures is in the low/high-context communication methods (de Mooij, 2010). Through advertisements in these individualistic cultures, the public expects a personal and direct approach.
Edward Hall developed a theory on high/low context, which compliments Hofstede’s individualism/collectivism framework (Hillebrand, 2007) while Dahl’s (2004) work supports the elements of Hofstede’s dimensions and Hall’s low context alike. Hall’s theory coincides with concepts from de Mooij over cross culture comparing of a low-context culture. low-context culture concepts are defined in three areas, being straightforward verbal communication, their directives and emphasis on use of personal pronouns. These concepts hold relevance as Canada and United Kingdom carry labels as individualistic nations by Hofstede – therefore low-context in nature – and analyzing their respective adverts through the individualistic trait and concepts of low-context messages, will reveal which characteristics are significant in defining them as culturally comparable.
Methodology The methodology used for this paper is in a qualitative analysis of a few commercial adverts. In order to distinguish characteristics shared by United Kingdom and Canada, I decided to observe citizen participation programs functioning in both regions – “Crimestoppers”. Two television adverts from each nation were selected; one set being more of a Lesson form of advertisement, and another being a more Drama style of advertisement. The targets for each of the respective Crimestoppers ads are aimed for the public of densely populated and urban areas – Toronto, Canada and London, England. To determine similarities the two commercials from each country analyze the verbal and visual elements displayed throughout the adverts. The verbal and visual elements examined and evaluated for their cultural similarities, through the criteria deriving from Hofstede, Dahl, de Mooij and Hall’s theories.
The characteristics of Hofstede’s individualism cultural dimension and Hall’s (1990) concepts in the low-context culture supported by de Mooij (2003, 2010) and Dahl (2004) establish a better understanding of which characteristics are dominant in making United Kingdom and Canada culturally similar. The operationalizing of these concepts are by analyzing the four commercials – two ads for each respective country – where in the assessment criteria stems from the aforementioned theories of Hofstede, Hall and de Mooij. The four criteria of the individualism dimension used are: 1. Privacy 2. Individual initiative 3. Culpability 4. Independence With the remaining three precedents of the low-context category being: 1. Straightforward approach 2. Directives 3. Personal pronouns The operationalizing of these seven aspects is over each of the four commercials, formulating the criteria for assessing the Crimestoppers adverts’ visual and verbal elements in a table form (see Table 1.1 & Table 1.2, in Results).
The table lists each of the criterions under the two categories – individualism and lowcontext – and uses a rating system and an example box as the columns to assess the measure for each Crimestoppers video. The rating system uses a scale from 1-5, 1 representing the lowest presence in ads and 5 representing the strongest presence. The example column is where quick examples and points of each of the aspects from the Crimestoppers commercial, to better support the rating.
There are two tables each comparing one Canadian video to one UK video, to highlight which cultural criteria dominantly depicts similarity between the two nations. The four Crimestoppers adverts that are used are titled and followed by a brief description below: 1. (CAN) Toronto Crimestoppers – Anonymous i. The beginning depicts a man robbing a convenient store with a hooded sweater and a gun. He then holds up the clerk when he realizes that the clerk is wearing a ski mask. Upon panicking, he realizes the witness inside the store, the old lady at the door when trying to exit, the child in the house looking out the window and the family in the car driving by are all wearing skie masks. This is then pursued by the text “You stay anonymous…criminals don’t” before the Crimestoppers logo appears.
2. (UK) Don’t let them get away with it – Drink driving
i. A man facing addresses the audience about ever witnessing a drink driver and doing nothing about it. Scene changes to the man in the background of a bar witnessing another man chugging down beer while confessing that he has witnessed a man enjoying too many drinks. Then states “somebody should of stopped him from driving home…I could of, but didn’t”. This is followed by the man stating that is was now only a matter of time, as the drunk driver gets in his car and his the man talking. Then closing wrapping up the video with the text “Drink drivers… don’t let them get away with it” and the Crimestoppers logo and ad sponsors.
3. (CAN) Call Taker Taking Anonymous Phone TIP – Toronto Crimestoppers i. The video begins immediately with the operator on the phone with an anonymous tipper. Ensures the individual that the call is completely anonymous and not recorded. She then proceeds to ask questions about the tip about bullying in school, such as location, who is involved, description, recent activities. Then closes with informing the caller that if the information does lead to any arrest or conviction, that they can be eligible for a reward for up to $2,000 and gives them information about a case number that they may call and follow up on. 4. (UK) What happens when I call Crimestoppers? i. Opening text with “Your say”. This is followed by character sketch of a person calling on the phone before opening the scene of the phone operator greeting the caller.
The caller nervous about giving information and asking for confirmation of anonymity. The operator then ensures him of anonymity, no call recording. call display, no court appearance or statement and that all she need is the information. Caller says that he had seen who stabbed an individual but was still reluctant to give information. She consoles him and really lets him know that it is completely anonymous and that she is not the police. He then confides in her who the stabber was, then rushes off the phone. The queues the closing text “this could have be your call” and “all the information has now been passed on anonymously to the relevant police force”.
The first two videos are the more Drama oriented adverts and the following two are more Lesson styled videos, informing and teaching the viewer of how the system work. The criteria for the analysis – deduced from the concepts and theories of Hofstede, Hall (1990), De Mooij (2010) and Dahl (2004) – can make the depiction the values of Hofstede’s IDV dimension are apparent in the individualism of United Kingdom and Canada alike. These theories will determine whether the evaluation implies a similar relation between the cultural natures, depicted between the adverts of the two nations’ Crimestoppers programs. As a result, the findings from the concepts will prove or disprove Expectation 1 (see Figure 1- Conceptual Framework). Consequently revealing the ability of the results to determine the validity of Expectation 2 (see Figure 1).
Results The analysis of all four videos over the seven concepts of the Individualism and Lowcontext factors, proved to be successful. What was beneficial from the data analysis is that it did produce an insight to the dominant characteristics that both United Kingdom and Canada similarly portrayed in their respective Crimestoppers commercials. The four adverts are identifiable in de Mooij’s basic advertising forms as the first two commercials were Drama forms of advertising, as the both boasted interplay between two characters to create a story in representation of the Crimestoppers program. The prominent aspects of the individualism and low-context cultures properly reflect Hofstede’s high individualistic ranking of Canada and the UK. As depicted in the analysis results from Table 1.1 and 1.2 (see below,) the prominent aspects unearthed were the Culpability and Privacy cultural aspect of an individualistic cultures, as well as through the Straightforward approach associated with the low-context culture.
The Culpability aspect was found to be a dominant criterion of individualism across all four of the videos with a total rating of 8 for both Canada and United Kingdom. In the “Toronto Crimestoppers – Anonymous” video analyzed in Table 1.1, it was portrayed that all potential witnesses were wearing ski masks and that they ranged from very young to the elderly. This implied the ease and lack of risk for yourself in simply reporting what information you could. In the “Don’t let them get away with it – Drink driving” commercial, guilty conscious was created in their efforts to describe just how little effort you had to put into a prevention measure.
Also, that in doing something, one could prevent someone from losing their life, as the speaker in the video could of prevented his own death by simply giving Crimestoppers a call. Moreover, in the third video “Call Taker Taking Anonymous Phone TIP – Toronto Crimestoppers”, analyzed in Table 1.2, it is severely emphasized by the call operator that there is no association, no having to go to court or give a statement, tied into your efforts. Finally, in the last advert, “What happens when I call Crimestoppers?” You hear the conversation between the call operator and a paranoid youth, who reluctant at first and still feeling at risk still provided information of a stabbing.
The Straightforwardness has been found to be the leading feat of low-context criteria across the four Crimestoppers adverts with ratings of 8 for United Kingdom and Canada alike. The blunt approach is displayed in the 1st commercial as an armed suspect instantly enters the scene, yet throughout the whole commercial all witnesses are so evidently portrayed as hidden, protected, and anonymous should they wish to share any information. In the 2nd Crimestoppers advertisement the audience is instantly engaged in a “Have you allowed this happen?” scenario created with the speaker questioning the viewer if they acted as he did which ultimately lead to his death. The 3rd and 4th ad, while being from Canada and UK respectively, both have the same depiction of the straightforward approach as in the first words involve “Crimestoppers” and they go on to highlight the significance of anonymity, low risk and ease for the information to be provided.
Table 1.1 shows that the Privacy feat received low ratings out of the first two Crimestoppers advertisements yet they received a 5 in the rating each make the total for both nations a rating of 6. As the second two commercials were Lesson forms of advertisements, particularly of the sub-category of Demonstration as both commercials had “a presenter demonstrate how the product works” de Mooij (2010). Over this set I found the Privacy feature to be a distinguishable characteristic of individualism, as both Crimestoppers commercials depicted strong symbols of privacy with the emphasis on one’s personal space is not compromised, and in no way threatened.
Table 1.2 states evidence observed in 3rd and 4th adverts of the operators giving such statements as “We are not recording anything”, “don’t need any information about you” and “won’t even tell the police it was a man or woman who called”. Below are the results from the analysis of the four Crimestoppers adverts for encouragement of participation programs. Table 1.1 – (1 Lowest presence – 5 Strong presence) Canadian Crimestoppers #1 Toronto Crimestoppers – Anonymous Rating (1-5) Individualistic Features Privacy 1 No depiction of individualistic privacy 1 The aspect of not having to come to a station, or have to have authorities entering.