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The Foreign Nature of Foreign Marketing

As I scribe my first blog after returning from abroad, I choose the subject of foreign marketing. We are constantly inundated with advertisements, but as I traveled around, I kept my eye on how other countries market to their consumers – there are some differences, but I believe those differences are mainly due to spacial constraints rather than differences in presentation.

Case in point…  The first advertisement that stood out to me in Italy was a HUGE ad for shopping mall outlet stores (keeping in mind that the entire ad was in English – which is a completely different topic altogether) it was on a drop cloth, suspended in the beautiful San Marco Square in Venice.  It was brought to my attention due to my mother's complaints that the gigantic poster was taking away from the beauty of the square. She asked why anyone, in their right mind, would drape an enormous ad over the front of such a beautiful and historic building…  I then noticed, as we looked closer, it appeared they were doing some restoration work on the building, so the facade was already covered.  But this brings be to my point… the advertisers took this opportunity to use the already covered space and pay, what I can only assume would have been an exorbitant amount of money, to place their “English targeted” ad in the most touristy spot in Venice.  Good show indeed – but interesting tactics – no room for your regular billboards there.  With all that being said, I actually found myself almost ignoring the ad due to its size alone.  And due to the fact that the square is so beautiful, my eyes were hardly drawn to the gaudy draping down at the end.

One effort that did catch my eye, however, was a picture hanging in one of the restaurants.  It was a splendid example of a company using the surroundings to impart their message, in an entertaining and intriguing way – instead of an 'in your face' large draping that covers up half a building side.  The black and white photograph showed San Marco Square (known for its many pigeons) with the large words Coca Cola, somehow shaped on the ground in the middle of the square.  It was only when I looked closer, that the words were in fact spelled out by, none other than, the pigeons themselves!  Coca Cola, cleverly, must have spread out bird feed so precisely, to entice these birds to do their flash mob style bidding.  Now, that is resourceful advertising.  No wonder Coke is the only American made soft drink I saw when in Italy…

Stay tuned for more observations from abroad…