- The Handbook of International Advertising Research ed. by Hong Cheng
As stated in the introduction of the handbook, international advertising research is timely and ubiquitous, but also underdeveloped as a field. Edited by Hong Cheng, The Handbook of International Advertising Research therefore aims to compile the field’s current knowledge, pendant concerns, and future directions. This includes, in its eight sections and 28 chapters, questions of methodology, history, economics, management, strategy, and consumer research, but also law, ethics, and some excursions beyond the commercial world to situate research within other global considerations, such as politics, education, and industry. For the researcher and student of advertising with an international outlook, this tome promises to build foundations and open avenues for the reader.
Yet one wonders what “international” means in this content. Though still biased towards American researchers, the extensive list of authors does include a wide variety of institutional affiliations across Europe, North America, Oceania, and Asia. That said, readers looking for researchers in the Middle East, India, or any African or South American country would find the compilation lacking. This observation is in line with Gordon E. Miracle’s opening chapter, in which he points out that although a few universities in these parts of the world do teach advertising, its faculty tends not to engage in research. For an exception, see Maya F. Farah and Lamis El Samad’s An Assessment of Advertisements for Controversial Products in Lebanon: The Influence of Gender in this very same issue. Likewise, consult Linda M. Scott’s commentary on Maasai women for an idea of what advertising and marketing research could yield in these underexplored settings.
Yet not everything can always be included, and so this shortcoming should not keep the reader from considering the handbook a valuable starting place for the field. A brief overview of each of the book’s eight sections follows.
Part I: Historical and Methodological Underpinnings
As heralded in the title of the first chapter, “International Advertising Research: A Historical Review,” Miracle’s historical overview provides extensive commentary on the state of advertising research within the international context. Particularly salient is the difficulty of conducting international research due to differences in national research, education, and culture, as well as capturing the complexity of the interplay between national interests and international repercussions. Miracle concludes that the standardisation of branding and advertising practices warrants more scholarly attention, hand-in-hand with the maturation of the methodologies put in practice.
Charles R. Taylor and John B. Ford elaborate upon this last point in the second chapter, “Research Methods for International Advertising Studies: A Practical Guide.” Exploring issues facing cross-national researchers, Taylor and Ford formulate 11 guidelines to help conceptualise robust studies and establish construct equivalence between research settings. Given their foundational nature, both chapters in this section prove to be valuable introductions to the questions, issues, and concepts at stake in international advertising research.
Part II: International Advertising Industry
John Philip Jones makes the striking claim that advertising’s greatest impact on society is not cultural or social, but economic. Chapter 3, “The Economics Effects of Advertising: How Research Can Untangle Them,” walks the reader through the basics of economic advertising research, advertising’s influence on consumer prices, and its understudied macroeconomic effects. Concluding that advertising does lower overall costs for the consumer in a variety of ways, the industry can still vastly improve on its own efficiency.
Delving into what the industry looks like at the international level, Kwangmi Ko Kim follows with her chapter, “Research on Transnational Advertising Agencies: Management, Structure, and Entry Strategies.” TNAAs are complex organisations that must navigate multiple market settings and questions of effectiveness and standardisation, as well as the macro concerns of the business environment that come to the fore. Kim reviews current research on TNAAs development, their primary markets, and the competitive landscape, as well as entry modes and strategies.
One major activity at any advertising agency is, of course, account planning—whether contained within national boundaries or with an eye on the global. Yet as Padmini Patwardhan and Hemant Patwardhan state in “Account...