The culture of television advertising : an historical and empirical analysis of the content of television commercials and of the Saudi viewers' responses to advertising
This exploratory study is to fill in some of the gaps in the current state of knowledge about the cultural exports of Multinational Corporations and Multinational Advertising Agencies. Another primary purpose of this research has been to investigate the nature of the relationship between advertising culture and Saudi television audiences and how this is reflected in both the content of television commercial and audience responses'. This study provides, firstly, a link between the past and present history of advertising in Saudi Arabia; secondly, it follows the detailed development of television advertising in Saudi Arabia from its inception in 1986 until 30th December 1989; thirdly, it indicates that the content of television commercials does not focus mainly on the selling intent (physical benefits and economic values) of products and services, but rather on the creation and enforcing of a global culture - a multinational culture - which plays on emotions, and social and personal values to achieve its ultimate goals; fourthly, it explores, empirically, the theoretical arguments about the effects of advertising on cultural values and national identity and the claim that it helps to implant Western ideology in less developed societies. This study raises concerns about the loss of cultural and national identity within Third World communities. The fear is that the threat arises not only from Western ideology but also from that of neighbouring countries, with their inexpensive production and opportunities for MNC manipulation at the expense of local culture, as in the case of Egypt and Lebanon's effect on Saudi Arabia culture. This concern is explained through the interaction between television commercials (senders) and Saudi society (receivers). Finally, the study encourages the use of more than one technique to tackle the complexity of studying advertising and culture. Two instruments, content analysis and survey, were used to bridge the gap between the sender and the receiver, or in other words, the gap between television presentation and viewers perceptions. The researcher hopes that this study is the seed for future work which can provide a more complete picture of advertising culture in the Third World.