An exploration of the cultural intersect in communication media of BNP Paribas in Bahrain

Tripon, Olivia Marie-Virginie
Theunissen, Petra
Rahman, Khairia
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Master of Communication Studies
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Auckland University of Technology

The concept of cross culture and cultural identity of multinationals operating in various countries have been challenged by the notion of globalisation in the course of these last centuries. Thus, the question of cultural specificities has been put in jeopardy and has challenged organisations ‘desire to create an original cultural identity in order to differentiate them in this competitive market.

This study explores the cultural interactions within the corporate identity of a French bank: BNP Paribas in Bahrain. The research tends to identify the cultural impacts of the French/European and the Bahraini Middle Eastern culture on the bank’s visual communication media. Because the bank is operating in a region rules by Islam, the purpose of the thesis is to understand to which extent BNP Paribas adheres to the cultural specificities of Bahrain and the Middle East in correlation with the corporate own national identity (French/ European).

A mixed method approach of a case study including semiotics and iconography visuals analysis of the bank’s communication media and semi-structured interviews of communication professionals has been followed.

The findings revealed that BNP Paribas did adapt its communication to the local Arabic Middle Eastern culture keeping therefore their own cultural code mainly derived from the French European cultural identity. Further, the bank did avoid religious symbols with the concern of portraying an alliance and unity between both countries which have created a global culture expressed through cultural patterns and stereotypes.

The bank’ main communication strategy in term of culture is to be ‘glocal’. They tend to represent the local culture within a global idea of culture. As a result, the bank avoided deeper cultural symbolism such as the religious ones to only focus on portraying a cultural identity representing harmony, social unity and alliance between both European and Middle Eastern countries. In creating a glocal approach through a bricolage of culture mixing French and Arabic cultural themes, BNP Paribas puts in scene cultural similarities between both countries and takes the risk to promote a global culture where cultural specificities that actively participate to the construction of identity are wiped out.

Cross culture communication , Corporate identity Europe Middle East
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