Cultivating Consumption: Global Cultures in Lebanese Advertising

Document Type


Presentation Date

Spring 3-16-2012

Conference Name

13th Annual IMI Conference on Intercultural Relations: A Forum for Business, Education and Training Professionals

Conference Location

American University, Washington D.C.


This paper is part of a research project that explores the relationship between identity and consumption in the Lebanese society. It investigates how commercial advertising utilizes the tension between the local and the non-local to promote the consumption of the advertised products. As television has increasingly become a habit integral to daily life in Lebanon, studying messages that this medium presents is crucial to understanding the rise of consumption culture in the Lebanese society. This study contends that advertising posits the consumer between the “self,” which, in reality, is situated in a local sphere, vis-à-vis the desire for being cosmopolitan.

Television advertising in Lebanon utilizes a multitude of forms to represent cultural identity within a cosmopolitan color. Thus, a survey of television commercial advertisements provides a quantitative evidence of how production and aesthetic choices reveal the patterns by which advertising constructs identity. Relying on a content analysis of advertisements, the study establishes the practices by which Lebanese producers utilize cultural indicators to appeal to their viewers. These indicators comprise of attitudes, behaviors, and social status associated with the featured products. The analysis considers the setting, music, language, and human characteristics as prominent cultural indicators. Furthermore, this paper compares the patterns revealed in the data collected to personal accounts from professionals in the Lebanese advertising industry. As statistical data corroborate the information gathered from interviewing advertising producers, the paper sheds light on the role of local producers as an influential force in constructing the cosmopolitan Lebanese identity.


Advertising, Global Media, Lebanon, Middle East, Cultural Memory



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