Global and Cross-cultural Marketing in the Forbidden Lands


I had an opportunity to go to Madinah and Makkah, Saudi Arabia in the end of January until the beginning of February 2013. Madinah and Makkah are called “haram lands” or forbidden lands because the non Islamic/non moslem people are prohibitted to enter those two holy cities. My friend whom is a mutthawif (a pilgrimage tour guide) at Saudi Arabia once told me a story about the monorail building connecting Jeddah to Makkah which is about 450 km. The construction team and labour were non moslem Chinese. When the rail constraction reached Makkah, the King of Saudi Arabia stopped the construction because the 600 team and labour personals were not moslem. So then all the construction personal converted to become moslems then the project continued to Makkah.

I didn’t bring my DSLR camera. I just used my Samsung X Cover 2 C 3355 cellphone to take some photographs at Madinah and Makkah. The pictures might be not in a good quality. But in this post I want to share some pictures for  a case of global and cross-cultural marketing about some global brands at Madinah and Makkah.

George E. Belch and Michael A. Belch define global marketing is where a company uses its common marketing plan for all operating countries to sell its product and the product and advertising messages must be designed by adapting the diferent countries (Belch and Belch, 2012 : 645 – 646). Tony Yeshin said that global marketing is provision of product and service of an organization by standardizing its activities on a world-wide basis with some recognition of the need for local adaptation to respond local pressure (Yeshin, 1998 : 300). Paul Copley proposed two integrated keys for global marketing, which we can conclude from both definition above, which are standardization and adaptation (Copley, 2004 : 406). Standardization is making product or company identity, image, and characteristic identically similar for consumer around the world. Adaptation is an approach to change the strategy depends on the political and socio-cultural differences in the different countries.  The adaptation process is usually in a form of cross-cultural communication.  Larry A. Samovar, Richard E. Porter, and Edwin R. McDaniel mentioned that global branding is how a brand and its image and identity being recognized around the world and it must be symbiotic with the language and culture (Samovar, Porter, McDaniel, 2010 : 228). Some global brands I photographed at Madinah and Makkah showed the brand identity are still standardized but they aslo use arabic writing.


First is Starbucks. It has a shop near the Nabawi Mosque, Madinah. We can see the green colour and the font of Starbuck Coffee as the identity of this brand. That is the standardization. Then we can see the Arabic writing on the rightside. That is the Starbucks Coffee which is read “staar baks kaafiih”. There is a division in the shop queue. The left is for the male consumers and the right is for the female consumers. Because at the forbidden lands is strickly sex/gender differentiated.


This is The Body Shop. Every metropolist girls and women all over the world should knows about this beauty care brand. The arabic writing sounds is ” dzii bau dii syaub”. In arabic, there is no phon ‘the’ ‘bo. The phon ‘syaub’ converts ‘shop’. There isn’t letter and phon ‘p’ in Arabian. And if it says ‘syauf’ it means a guideline of the praying in a mosque.


This is a minimarket sponsored by Pepsi. The standardization is the Pepsi and the colour and its logo. The adaptation is on the right corner of the market banner where the word Pepsi converted to arabic which phon is “biibsii”. There is no word and phon ‘e’ in Arabian.


I found a Haagen-Dazs corner shop at Makkah. Makkah is a bit more international-friendly because every moslem pilgrim around the world goes to this forbidden city for the hajj and umrah worship. The colour, the font is standardized and the adaptation is in the arabic writing and phon “Haajin Daaz”.

Those pictures above show how global marketing using cross-cultural communication for global brands are practiced in Saudi Arabia with the language/linguistic strategy. For the conclusion, those are proving the concept of global marketing as Del I. Hawkins and David L. Mothersbaugh called as a blend of standardization and customization (Hawkins, Mothersbaugh, 2010 : 69).


References :

  1. Belch, George E., Michael A. Belch. 2012. Advertising and Promotion : An Integrated Marketing Communication Perspective, 9 Ed. New York : McGraw-Hill Irwin.
  2. Copley, Paul. 2004. Marketing Communication Management : Concepts and Theories, Cases and Practices. Oxford : Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann.
  3. Hawkins, Del I., David L. Mothersbaugh. 2010. Consumer Behavior : Building Marketing Strategy, 11 Ed. New York : McGraw-Hill Irwin.
  4. Samovar, Larry A., Richard E. Porter, Edwin R. McDaniel. 2010. Communication between Cultures, 7 Ed. Boston MA : Wadsworth.
  5. Yeshin, Tony. 1998. Integrated Marketing Communications : The Holistic Approach. Oxford : Butterworth-Heinemann.



5 thoughts on “Global and Cross-cultural Marketing in the Forbidden Lands

  1. Mmm… Positive? I’m not quite agree though. It’s not always positive. It has its own internal contradiction. Well, maybe we can discuss about it and other topics soon 🙂

    • Of course I wasn’t serious in saying that, Mbak Rengga hahaha. Sure, meet you at campus or at backyard canteen of UAI 🙂

  2. Hi, Mas Zak! Well, I really like the photos and your explanation about global marketing and your opening on how the need for construction can easily make 600 peoples convert into Islam. I mean what the hack is really happen around us? Also, your explanation and examples about global marketing give me a “shot-in-the-dark” about branded fetishsism (don’t think something dirty, it’s a term used by Jodi Dean if I’m not mistaken). Looking forward to read you new post about semiotics, movie, and all 🙂

    • Hi, Mbak Rengga. Here comes the host of “Message from Tohoku : Sharing Experience and Walking for the Future” previous post. Thanks for commenting here. For your information, I self-interpret fetishism as a positive sense of visual art or visual communication forms 😛

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