Dean Kruckeberg and Marina Vujnovic (herein after referred to as “K&V”) contributed a very thought-provoking chapter to our global communications textbook. Chapter 12, entitled Global Advertising and Public Relations, highlights some important focus topics, but, for me, the most prominent issue raised is that of global conformity, as a consequence of advertising and/or public relations.
I am not sure how this first point directly relates to my overall opinion, but I’d like to mention it anyway. K&V state that the US laypeople’s association of advertising and public relations is “corporate in purpose” (among other things). K&V determines this assumption to a “simplification” and one of at least three “gross inaccuracies” (272-73).
A few pages later, the authors state, “compelling evidence suggests that advertising has been strongly-if not overwhelmingly-corporate in purpose”. K&V site R.L. Heath, who states, “from its birth, public relations has been seen as a tool used largely by corporate managements to get their way” (277).
I’m sure you see where I am going with this, but just to state the obvious, I believe that this is somewhat of a contradiction. While K&V did dot their “i’s”, stating that the fallacies were to be addressed under the sole assumption of itself; and cross their “t’s”, noting that primary referral made was to “laypeople of the US” (272), the authors still, on the broader scale, documented a contradicting statement. Whether referring to corporate civilian or common citizen, stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, and I feel that to some degree, K&V are unable to ascertain the true level of control or influence the corporate world has over public opinion. Yet, to some degree, it seems as if the authors (perhaps, inadvertently) relate to the “laypeople’s” anxiety behind having their individual opinions determined by governmental, wealthy, or private sector parties, regardless of the actual individual’s opinion.
Which leads me to my primary point of interest regarding Chapter 12…
I’ve decided to call it “global conformity”. K&V incorporate terms like “relationship marketing” (278) and “societal corporatism” (278) into their argument; they describe public relations as bringing an “essential element of collectivism into the commonly individualistic world view” (Grunig, 278); and it is recommended that international strategy be “sensitive to the nuances of regional markets throughout the world” (276). Pertaining to feathers ruffled by Benetton’s death-row ad campaign, K&V attest that the “US media’s hostile coverage […] exposed the instability of hegemonic ideologies in mass-mediated public discourse” (276).
I think that K&V’s underlying point, one that is not made often enough, is that the corporate compulsion to create one, global, consenting opinion bodes impossible. Those in charge (of any organization including, but not limited to, government, non-profit organizations, clubs, etc.) continue to waste time and finances in the hopes that such an uttainable goal may be achieve. The marketing “officials” seem rather convicted that there IS a way to force a square peg into a round hole. Grunig is right: there is a “commonly individualistic world view”, especially in the US, because humans are, by design, individuals. Nobody wants to be lumped into a category, and while some choose to be more complacent with such practices, most would probably argue against being labeled by a handful of powers that be.