Advertising is big business and going global seems to be the dream goal. However, in this era of globalization, we must ask ourselves whether the pursuit of global domination has a price, and if so, is it worth it?

The importance of cultural identity

Taking a look at Catalonia and specifically the city of Barcelona as an example, one can see how globalization may pose a number of threats. The nation’s history has not always been a pleasant one that you could perceive from todays Barcelona.

With years of repression and solitude under the centrally planned government of the fascist dictator General Franco (1939-1975), the regime prohibited all counter-discourses to their official language (Castilian).

The catalan language was banned within all cultural spheres including media, literature, theatre, cinema and advertising creating social and cultural repression on a mass scale.

A new era: The ‘re-imaging’ of Barcelona

Barcelona Olympic Games Poster

In 1992 Barcelona was set to host the Olympic games for the first time, placing the city firmly back on the map and essentially ‘re-imaging’ its cultural identity.

The games were in essence a turning point for the Catalan capital where Catalan language could be portrayed freely across mass advertising, providing the city and it’s language the perfect antidote to years on the periphery.

As well as the official posters created for the Olympic games 1992, various companies became sponsors for the event, enabling the brands to catapult themselves onto the global market whilst also creating a cultural identity for Barcelona.

Some catalan brand case studies

Through brands such as Estrella DammCodorníu, and Barcelona FC, the capital and its cultural image has been retained quite successfully.

However, for many other brands who have gone global, the image and language of catalan culture has been lost as it is notably more difficult to market a regional product.

Estrella Damm

The reason for companies like Estrella Damm who have achieved global success whilst being loyal to the Barcelona and Catalan culture and imagery, can be found in their intense marketing, advertising and translation work.

Using Barcelona skylines, language and popular tourist attractions within their campaigns, Estrella Damm draws the consumer into a cultural perception of the brand. Cultural imagery has been found to be more effective in creating a relationship with consumers rather than simply a logo. Thus the company effectively set itself apart from its competitors creating a diverse range of successful beers.

Retaining cultural integrity

It seems clear that the advent of new communications technologies such as marketing initiatives and advertising campaigns has had a profound effect upon the role of city and cultural identity in the contemporary age of globalization.

In the specific case of Barcelona, it is apparent that although Barcelona is both challenged within Spain, and in a global sense against ‘Americanisation’, there is substantial evidence to show that advertising has successfully and will continue to, create and retain a cultural image and identity for the city of Barcelona.

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