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JYOTIKA RAMAPRASAD AND KAZUMI HASEGAWA

CREATIVE STRATEGIES IN AMERICAN AND JAPANESE TV COMMERCIALS:
A COMPARISON

JYOTIKA RAMAPRASAD is associate professor in the School ot Journalism at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale Her research interests tocus on advertising standardization/localization issues and cross-cultural comparisons of advertising content and ot consumers. Currentresearch projects include a study of Japanese and American student consumers. Chinese advertising content, and views of international agencies on standardization of advertising

dvertising content consists of two major elements: strategy and tactics {or execution). Attempts to enumerate these, to exemplify their suitability for advertising situations, and to ascertain their communication effectsreach back several years and still continue. Similarly longstanding and perennial is the debate on whether advertising should be globally standardized or tailored to the specific culture of individual countries. However, few cross-culturally comparative studies have been done on creative strategy. The purpose of this article is to fill this lacuna. The paper first discusses typologies of creativestrategy and the "standardization-localization" debate. It then compares American and Japanese commercials, particularly with regard to the use and format of creative strategies.

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tance. In a replication of a study by Stewart and Furse (1986), Stewart and Koslow (1989) conclude that: Both studies point to the importance of having something unique and differentiating to say about the advertisedproduct. . . . These empirical findings are quite consistent with the best creative wisdom, which has long advocated creating unique selhng propositions, distinctive brand images, and making the product the "hero" of the commercial. Attempts to formulate a typology of creative strategies have spawned dichotomous to multiple categories, have included situational variables, and have confusedstrategy with execution. The dichotomy of informational and emotional appeals is common; several explications of this dichotomy are available in the literature (Preston, 1987). Vaughn (1980) considers this feeling/thinking dichotomy a situational variable and combines it with level of involvement to propose a model of four creative strategies; he suggests that the match between strategy and the situation(the quadrants) will maximize internalization of the message. Similarly, Simon's (1971) classification of creative strategies was undertaken to provide "useful instructions for choosing the most effective types of advertisements for various market and product-brand situations." Simon's categories.
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Creative Strategy Defined
Creative strategy comprises the "what is said" in an advertisementrather than the "how it is said," which is an executional question. Frazer's (1983) definition is lucid: "Creative strategy is a policy or guiding principle which specifies the general nature and character of messages to be designed." A sound creative strategy generally ensures success; good executions give advertising the added punch. Even studies on executional factors underscore strategy'simpor-

KAZUMI HASEGAWA is a doctorai student in the Department of Telecommunication at Michigan State University Her research interests include cross-cultural comparisons of advertising and consumer behavior and the effectiveness of comparative advertising In collaboration with her present coauthor, she IS currently engaged in a comparative study of Japanese and American students as consumers.Journal of ADVERTISING RESEARCH^JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1992

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however, are not classified by strategy alone; they also use some executional and sales promotions criteria. While he does not call them strategies, Shimp's (1976) typology of "message structure" also includes both strategy and tactics. Starting anew, Frazer (1983)...
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