India is the world's second most populous nation. It is a land where the old and the new, the traditional and the modern, and the local and the international coexist—sometimes comfortably, sometimes not. In managing brands and targeting consumers, advertising must understand and contend with the social and cultural diversity of India. Thus, if advertising is to reflect society, the question in India becomes: Which India to reflect? The contrast between what is manufactured at home (and thus, Indian) and what is imported (and thus, global) touches the very heart of Indian national identity. Today, many Indians remain suspicious of imported goods and the multinational corporations that produce them. Others view such foreign influences, including the establishment of foreign corporation branches, as a means of modernizing the country and bringing it into the global economic community. After years of controlling and closing the economy to foreign influence, the Indian government liberalized the economy in 1991. The years since have witnessed rapid change at virtually every level of the society and culture. Multinational corporations have moved in, imported goods have become widely available, and consumption has become rampant. Today it is possible to buy nearly anything in India—from inexpensive handcrafted bangles to luxury watches, foreign cars, and designer clothing. 2. The History of Advertising in India
Today Indian advertising has the enormous job of speaking to one of the world's most diverse populations. English is the only common language throughout all of India, but it is unknown in many sectors of the population. Television, radio, and newspapers rely on more than two dozen languages, thus limiting the communicative reach of many advertisements to certain geographic regions or some sectors of society. When addressing India's elite, advertising uses English. When speaking more colloquially to the masses, it uses one of the many local languages. In...
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