Challenges of American Companies Advertising in Western Europe

American Companies Advertising in Western Europe

European advertisers have a lot to learn from Americans. Many of initial concepts of advertising up to the present day have originated in America. But Europeans are not Americans, and they have different social and cultural needs, expectations and triggers than Americans. As an amalgam of 27 EU countries plus several affiliated lands, Europe is larger, more complex, and more demanding than the monolithic U.S. market.

The articles reviewed in the following pages will cover two themes: Europeans using U.S.-developed advertising techniques but applying their spin for European audiences, and American companies developing their own approach to advertise to Europeans, in some cases making significant changes to their entire approach in order to establish a rapport with their audiences.

Counter-attacking the Kremlin (Economist, 2007)

We take our advertising freedoms in America for granted. In Russia, the non-governmental media outlets have been shut down one after another. There is only one major private media outlet left as of the time of this Economist article: New Times. The brave editors of this newspaper have persisted despite Kremlin-directed assassinations of journalists, persecution of media editors, and revocation of the licenses of those who are not willing to toe the Kremlin's political line.

The point of the Economist article is that Europeans have, for the most part, attempted to assuage the Kremlin by turning in the other direction as anti-democratic press suppression is taking place at their doorstep. Appeasement isn't working, says the Economist.

The authors say that there are no Russian companies willing to stand up to the government and advertise in the New Times. Their suggestion, in this editorial, is to have the "Polish sausage makers, Estonian sprat-canners and Georgian wine makers" place their advertisements in the New Times in order to strengthen the cause of democracy.

Who is better placed to put in this advertising than American companies? Given the power of American brands, such as Ford, Coca-Cola or Marlboro, these companies can both afford to place ads in the New Times, and derive a benefit from their coverage. While the Kremlin may rant and rave, they have little opportunity to retaliate against such global brands.

We take advertising as a given, but it can also be a force for peace and democracy.

Marketers Have Eyes on the 'Third Screen' (Pfanner, 2007)

Mobile phone use in Europe is higher than in the U.S. The introduction of 3G technology and the heavier use of SMS texting in Europe means that the cell phone is a better venue for advertising than it is in the United States. The "Third Screen," which is the cell phone, is behind the TV and the computer in Europe. Since computer use in many countries is lower, but cell phone use is higher, this may indicate an opportunity for advertisers in the country.

The article in the New York Times covers the predominance of internet access on cell phones in several European countries. According to the article, 76% of Europeans polled have internet access available on their mobile phones.

American advertisers, accustomed to heavy spend in the first two screens, may want to think about moving quickly to cell phones, as it corresponds better to European usage patterns.

Direct-to-consumer advertising debated in the United States and European Union (Guthrie, 2007)

Direct-to-consumer advertising for drug products, whether over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription, is common in the United States. This article from the Canadian Medical Journal discusses the major issues that American drug companies are facing in attempting to introduce direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription pharmaceuticals in Europe.

This is a very attractive market for pharmaceutical manufacturers. The Kaiser Family Foundation, quoted in this article, claims that each dollar spent on advertising returns $4 in sales to the drug company. Since margins are generally over 80%, this means significant profits are available for such advertising.

The problem in Europe is that prescription drug selling is still the exclusive preserve of the local pharmacy, which has a strong political lobby in Europe.…