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Global Media and Identity

To what extent does global advertising support cultural diversity or homogenization?

Outcomes References Related Resources

Suggested Activities

Students examine the influence of global media on cultural identities by comparing the advertising and products/services that multinational corporations offer in different cultural settings.

Explore Web sites of multinational corporations
Invite students to explore the Web sites of one or more major multinational corporations such as Disney, McDonald's, Nike and Coca-Cola (see References). Each Web site has links to the regions of the world where they do business. Ask students to examine Web sites for three continents for insights into marketing techniques and products/services. Suggest they consider the impact on cultural identities.

For instance, point out how products are advertised in other countries. For example, on the German Web site for McDonald's, German and English are mixed to sell the products (see References). Invite students to speculate on the impact this practice might have on maintenance of culture and promotion of linguistic diversity.

Gather information on marketing strategies and products/services
Direct students to gather information on two areas: marketing and products/services.

Suggest they consider these two questions:

  • Does the advertising for the product/service reflect cultural differences?
  • Are products or services tailored to the unique cultural setting?

Ask students to look for the following indicators:

use of symbols, language and visuals unique to the culture

use of globally recognized icons or images

cultural sensitivity to beliefs or values

a common message reflecting common core values regardless of the area of the world

product/service modifications to meet unique cultural needs/demands.

common products/services with little or no differentiation for various areas of the world.

Use Venn diagrams to record similarities and differences
Recommend that students use a Venn diagram or a comparative chart to record how marketing and products/services are similar and different in three regions.

Similarities and Differences

Venn Diagram

Rate the promotion of cultural diversity or homogenization
Ask students to assess the degree to which multinational corporations promote cultural diversity or a homogenized culture. Suggest using a five-point scale from "highly supportive of unique cultural identities" to "highly supportive of homogenized culture."

You may want to use Rating Options (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.

Share research findings
Ask students to do one of the following:

  • prepare a visual display of their conclusions and supporting evidence that uses images from the Web sites
  • orally present and defend their conclusions using evidence from the Web site to support their positions.
Last updated: May 30, 2008 | (Revision History)
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