Part of the Auburn MBA South Africa trip itinerary was a visit with the Johannesburg office of the Ogilvy advertisingcompany. This was a highly anticipated visit for me as I was very interested in seeing the differences in how companies advertising to South Africans did it differently from companies in the United States. I was very surprised to find the general theme of most of the commercials centered around family, friends and providing the most value for the least cost. One of my first comments following Ogilvy’s presentation was how the techniques and methods they used in developing and executing marketing plans were exactly what was being taught in Auburn’s Marketing courses. There were small differences in language, the currency used, and there was a dirt road in a commercial. Other than that I would not have been surprised to see any of the commercials shown in the presentation on U.S. television.
In hindsight it would seem very intuitive that all cultures would value these attributes, but I expected more differences than similarities. This was a nice surprise and a definite lesson for international business.