Essay About Uk Culture Vs Us Culture
To understand the difference between British and American humour, simply look at Alan Partridge. To us Brits, a man from Norwich who has bounced back, who’s prone to deadly scotch egg breath and piercing his foot on a spike is simply hilarious. Yet to most Americans, conditioned to hold a wildly different cultural mindset, it makes little sense, being far too riddled with small-island anxieties for inhabitants of a massive nation to truly “get”. It is no wonder then, that advertising, the perennial cultural repository, is vastly different in the UK than in the US.
A few months ago an American tourist’slong list of observations on the UK went viral. Perhaps it’s only when you look at a culture through different eyes that you see its intricacies. So, in that spirit, here are the seven major differences between UK and US advertising, as observed by a British ad woman with help from an American ad man.
Eight ads that shatter tired gender stereotypes
1. Patriotic v deeply uncomfortable about the whole thing
Americans are far more at ease with being overtly in love with their country than us Brits. The 2012 Olympics, Great British Bake Off and Harry Potter have gone some way to boosting our sense of national pride, but only as far as bunting – strictly no flag waving (unless of course there’s a royal wedding). American ads, however, are riddled with patriotism and no one feels especially uncomfortable about it. Hence ads like this one for Ram Trucks, which captures middle America and the salt-of-the-earth American man that gets pride levels soaring.
2. Honesty v awkward assurance
American advertising says if you’re going to tell the truth, then really tell it. Tell it with bells on. In fact, tell it with a man in a bear costume and swing a machete while you’re at it, like this ad from Dollar Shave Club, which asks: “Are our blades any good?” and responds “No … they’re [bleep]-ing great.” British sincerity tends to come in the form of smiling, empathy and real-world settings like tea and biscuits around the kitchen table. What a difference an ocean makes.
3. Celebrities rule v celebrities drool
When we think of celebrity endorsement in Britain, we think of Michael Winner saying “Calm down dear, it’s only a commercial” in a maddeningly condescending way. Over here, celebrity endorsement is more prevalent in beauty advertising, like our Cheryl in the Elnett ads, but it is nowhere near as rampant as in the States. Celebrity endorsement is everywhere you turn, on every product there is, even when the thing you’re selling is as big as the celebrity and doesn’t actually require it. Take this Call of Duty advert for example.
4. The Super Bowl v Christmas
The Super Bowl is America’s big event. A time to eat sliders, drink beer, watch “the football” (not actually football) and take in some of the most expensive adverts ever made. The nearest advertising equivalent in the UK is Christmas, when retailers pulling out the stops to impress. But if this is our Super Bowl, then it’s been a bit one-sided for a few years now. It’s like 1998-2001 in the Premier League with John Lewis as Manchester United. Nothing beats the Super Bowl on sheer scale, however, and to celebrate that fact, here is its most expensive ad ever. It’s a brilliant, rousing, call to arms for Detroit from Chrysler and it cost an absolute fortune ($12.4 million).
5. Have a nice day v *shrugs*
This series of Prudential adverts would never find their way on to TV in Britain, they would have us hiding behind the sofa, chewing on a cushion until it had all gone away. In America, however, they have been very successful, and that’s because each one is optimistic and positive to the core. This is a bank saying “We’ll help you” and “Let’s do it together!” and at the end, everyone cheers. Madness.
6. Life’s a joke v we’re a joke
This is the kicker, the subject of many debates. Surely us Brits are funnier than Americans? We cling to it and hope it’s true – it’s all we’ve got! Superiority claims aside, our humour is clearly different and Ricky Gervais sums it up beautifully: “We mercilessly take the piss out of people we like or dislike basically. And ourselves. This is very important. Our brashness and swagger is laden with equal portions of self-deprecation. This is our license to hand it out … America rewards up-front, on-your-sleeve niceness. A perceived wicked streak is somewhat frowned upon.” In honour of this fine contrast, here’s American, non-sarcastic, all welcoming advertising humour at its best for Kmart.
7. Sincere all year round v only when it’s allowed
Americans are generally positive – and seem to even mean it. The only time British people are sincere is when it’s allowed, and that’s at Christmas. Here’s a little number from Boots that made everyone in the UK cry and adopt the foetal position immediately (I’m only slightly exaggerating).
Overall, advertising offers a wonderful glimpse into how we view ourselves as a nation. Alan Partridge’s famous brand of chat simply doesn’t feature in America’s cultural narrative, but it absolutely captures Britain’s: light, unemotional insecure to the core. It’s always obvious when an advert made for a different country drops into your ad break, and not only because it might be dubbed. Advertising is simply at its most powerful when it taps into cultural beliefs and motivations, and in many cases this is country-specific or at least nuanced.
Melanie Arrow is strategy director at BBH London and Mark Aronson is strategy director at BBH New York
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Cultural Differences in Communication Essay
1402 Words6 Pages
The term “culture” refers to the complex accumulation of knowledge, folklore, language, rules, rituals, habits, lifestyles, attitudes, beliefs, and customs that link and provide a general identity to a group of people. Cultures take a long time to develop. There are many things that establish identity give meaning to life, define what one becomes, and how one should behave. Distribution and exercise of power shape attitudes towards authority. How people sustain themselves economically, and how they manage to obtain the necessities of life, determines assigned roles of individuals and the relationships among them. Physical surroundings of people help define the nature, intensity, and longevity of their values. A wealth of resources…show more content…
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