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With more mergers and acquisitions than ever before, I think it's becoming quite clear that a company in the future will need to have a global presence in order to compete in tomorrow's market place. This presence can give a company many competitive advantages.

To begin with, say, it can give access to local market knowledge, which can avoid some very, very expensive mistakes on account of cultural conflicts. Once more, it can spread the risk of doing business. If a company sells to more than one market, it can survive a downturn in any one of those markets, that's quite clear. And if a company becomes truly global, it can move its production around from country to country and take advantage of the best conditions at any given time. And the size of the company means it can realise economies of scale in advertising or distribution or shipping, for example.

So I think, all in all, when these things are taken into consideration, it's quite clear that any company not looking to establish a global presence in future may not have a future.

How to promote an imported brand

With so many people these days making a conscious decision to buy domestic products, the pressure on those companies wishing to promote imported brands is greater than ever before.

Initially, a company needs to show how their product is superior to the local equivalents. Maybe it's better quality; maybe it's more stylish. A company needs to show customers the benefits of being more adventurous in their buying decisions to encourage them to move away from the current products they us. If you market a product as something exotic or unusual, you're bound to attract new clients. Cultural stereotypes are also a powerful selling tool. A cosmetics range associated with French chic, for example, is bound to attract customers. And if people are looking to buy a reliable car, there's no better label than 'made in Germany'. These national associations can also be exploited at the point of sale. Playing French music in supermarkets, for example, is proven to improve the sales of French wine.

Basically, if you want to successfully promote an imported brand, you need to give your customers a good reason to try something a little bit more exciting than their own home brands.

The importance of stereotypes in advertising

Well, stereotypes are useful to advertisers because they're basically a shorthand. You've got thirty seconds to get your main selling point across. And with a stereotype you can establish a theme in two.

A stereotype is consistent and easily identifiable to a whole national group. When a German audience see a Scotsman in a kilt, they instantly know that the ad is going to be about economy. And they can make us feel good about our own value systems or customs. We might pit a refined Englishman against a brash New Yorker and that'll give the impression that the product we're selling is obviously full of taste and discretion. And of course, in this way, stereotypes are often identified with positive qualities. For example, the German Audi designers in white lab coats are obviously obsessed with perfection. And so we can guarantee that any product we buy from them is going to be designed to perfection.

And lastly, stereotypes make good comedy because everybody wants to laugh at other countries and people who are different. And of course, if they've had a laugh, they're more likely to remember the advert.

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