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JOURNAL OF MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS 7 125136 (2001)

A comparative analysis of advertising characteristics, strategy, style and form in global and national brand advertising
NIALL FARRALL AND JERYL WHITELOCK

School of Management, University of Salford, Salford M5 4WT, UK

This paper considers the differences and similarities between national brand and global brand advertising through the use of three analytical frameworks creative strategies, advertising styles and advertising form. It seeks to identify any differences between national and global brand advertising in terms of creative strategy, advertising style and advertising form. The structural elements of advertisements, such as the length of a commercial, number of camera shots and number or type of characters present, are also examined for a total of 551 television advertisements. A number of signi cant differences between the advertising of global and national brands have been recorded. In addition, the study identi es a discriminant function, which successfully predicts the advertising strategies, styles and formats for global brands. KEYWORDS: Television advertising; global brands; UK; advertising content analysis INTRODUCTION This paper considers the differences and similarities between the advertising of national and global brands through the use of three analytical frameworks: Simons (1971) creative strategies, Cathelat and Ebguys (1988) advertising styles and Wells et al.s (1988) advertising form. These frameworks have been previously employed in cross-cultural comparisons of advertising (Reid et al., 1985; Martenson, 1987; Zandpour et al., 1992; Whitelock and Rey, 1998) and cross-media analysis (Farrall and Whitelock, 1998b). The paper seeks to identify any differences between the advertising of national and global brands on television in terms of creative strategy, advertising style and format. The structural elements of advertisements such as the length of a commercial, number of camera shots and number or type of characters present are also recorded. The paper indicates the literature supporting the use of each framework, describes the methodology employed and research questions developed and presents ndings from the research. A REVIEW OF EMPIRICAL STUDIES Although there appears to have been no studies that have compared advertising for national and global brands, studies into cross-cultural advertising have presented some interesting ndings, which provided a framework for this research. For example, in a comparison of the UK and USA, Weinberger and Spotts (1989a) examined the use of information content in television advertising
Journal of Marketing Communications ISSN 13527266 print/ISSN 14664445 online 2001 Taylor & Francis Ltd http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals DOI: 10.1080/13527260110042934

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and found that the amount of information content differed between the two (informativeness accounted for 54% of the content in UK commercials as compared to 65% in US commercials). They also examined the use of humour as an executional style (Weinberger and Spotts, 1989b) and found that 24% of the US and 36% of the UK commercials were viewed as having a humorous intent. The results gave support to Lannons (1986) suggestion of cultural differences between the two countries, as well as to the widespread belief that UK advertisers used humour more and in a different manner than their US counterparts. Nevett (1992) also concluded that there were substantial differences in information content and the use of humour between US and UK television advertising. Similarly, Hasegawa and Ramaprasad (1992) compared creative strategies between US and Japanese television commercials and discovered both similarities and differences between the countries studied. The USA and Japan differed in the frequency of product categories advertised on television, in the commercial length they favoured and in their informational strategies. Similarities were found in the frequency of use of transformational strategies across both countries. A degree of commonality and some differences were also found in Synodinos et al.s (1989) study comparing advertising practices across 15 different countries, with the differences in the executional formats observed suggested as being due to dependency upon cultural factors, production costs and the length of time or amount of space of an advertisement. Zandpour et al. (1992) undertook a three-country study (the USA, France and Taiwan) and found that US commercials generally addressed speci c consumer personal needs and problems. In contrast, French commercials contained symbolism, humour and drama. They did not present straight single facts about the product, they did not provide any reasoning or argument in favour of the product and they tended not to display users of the product. Taiwanese commercials generally linked the product to the consumers traditional Chinese values such as respect for authority and family relations. They tended to provide subtle presentations through symbols, metaphors and drama related to family events. They often dealt with abstracts and lacked speci c consumer orientation. Again, like the French commercials, they did not provide any reasoning or explicit conclusions. The other dominant trait of Taiwanese commercials was a promise of immediate reward in the form of free offers and special deals through a hard-sell lecture. Finally, Whitelock and Rey (1998) compared television advertising in France and the UK in terms of the feasibility of standardization of advertising strategies between the two countries. The content of the advertising message was found to be similar in both countries, but the methods used to convey it appeared to be different. These ndings suggest that, since they need to be advertised in order to accommodate differences across cultures while maintaining a consistent brand image, global brands will be likely to differ in their advertising in terms of creative strategy, style and executional format from brands intended solely for a national market, which can capitalize on the speci c cultural requirements of that market. However, one study suggested that it is the product rather than the cultural environment that affects advertising. Katz and Lee (1992) examined social communication differences in US and UK prime-time television advertising. Although they discovered signi cant differences in the frequency of the product categories being advertised in each country, further data analysis revealed a signi cant association between the product category and the social communication formats. The same product categories tended to be advertised using the same social communication formats in both countries. These authors therefore suggested that the kind of message used in each country depends less on the cultural values involved and more on the product category being advertised. Thus, if product categories contain both global and national brands, Katz and Lees (1992) nding

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would suggest that both types of brand would be advertised using similar creative strategies, styles and executional formats.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND CONTEXT A number of research questions are proposed. (1) What are the differences, if any, between advertisements for national and global brands in terms of length, camera shots, characters, music and subtitles? (2) What are the differences between the creative strategies of advertisements for national and global brands? (3) What are the differences between the styles of advertising employed in advertisements for national and global brands? (4) What are the differences between the forms of advertising employed in advertisements for national and global brands? (5) To what extent do any signi cant variables provide a good prediction of whether an advertisement is for a national or global brand? A de nition of terms is required in order to set the context for this study. De ning national and global brands and their advertising is not an easy task. However, our starting point was to look to previous research in the area of brands and where they are sold. Whitelock et al. (1995) achieved a high response rate in a survey quantifying the number of brands in the top 100 in the UK that were sold in Europe (acnielsen.com, 1991, 1997). Twenty-eight of these brands were described as pan-European. A follow-up study (Farrall and Whitelock, 1999) identi ed a further three brands which had become pan-European in the intervening period. A checklist was developed from these 31 brands by which national and global brands advertising on television could be identi ed. Further desk research, which involved contacting the brand managers for those brands seen on television during the period of the study, assisted in the development of a typology for national and global brands. As a result, a national brand was de ned as one sold solely in the UK, whereas a global brand was sold in the UK, Europe and beyond. The frameworks that were used for this research have been extensively used in previous research into advertising, mostly in cross-cultural comparisons of television or magazine advertising as discussed above (see, for example Zandpour et al., 1992; Whitelock and Rey, 1998). However, creative strategy has been seen as an under-researched area (Zandpour et al., 1992). Creative strategy can be de ned in many ways. Firstly, it has been described as the means selected to achieve the desired audience effect over the term of the campaign (Frazer, 1983, p. 36). It has also been described as the policy or guiding principle determining the general nature and character of individual messages (Frazer, 1983; Hasegawa and Ramaprasad, 1992; Zandpour et al., 1992). Creative strategy can also be described as the what is said in the advertisement rather than the how it is said (Hasegawa and Ramaprasad, 1992). This research used the typology developed by Simon (1971), who developed his classi cation scheme for categorizing the major creative strategies from an extensive review of the writings of famous copywriters. The classi cation scheme, which consists of ten distinct creative strategies that are called activation methods, is based on the premise that various product-brand characteristics demand different methods of activating the customer to buy through exposure to advertising (Simon, 1971). Simons (1971) description means that the creative strategy decision guides the nal executional form of the advertisement. This typology has been employed extensively in cross-cultural analyses of television advertising

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(Reid et al., 1985; Martenson, 1987; Zandpour et al., 1992; Whitelock and Rey, 1998; Koudelova and Whitelock, 2001). The social and creative dimensions or style of advertising model was developed by Cathelat and Ebguy (1988) at the French advertisement agency Euro RSCG. This is a typology containing nine elements, which has had very limited usage in academic research. Whitelock and Rey (1998) used this framework in recent research into French and UK commercials and found that French television advertisements tended to employ the egotistical style (the classy aspect of the product is emphasised, by underlining the noble roots of the advertiser (p. 276) ) and UK advertisements the funny style (the product is associated with ludicrous dimension, detached from any real situation (p. 276) ). Finally, Wells et al. (1988) developed three categories for analysing advertising format, which was a model that was adapted by Deighton et al. (1989). These are drama (an unnarrated event with character(s) and a plot in which the product solves the problem), lecture (narrated with no character(s) or story) and lecturedrama (a combination of drama and lecture) (Wells, 1988; Deighton et al., 1989). Zandpour et al. (1992) employed this typology for examining the organisation and packaging of the advertising messages in French, Taiwanese and US television commercials, while Walliser (1999) used it to examine French and German television advertising. METHODOLOGY Advertisements were video taped from terrestrial and satellite channels broadcasting in the UK. The advertisements were video recorded from Granada Television from the ITV network (terrestrial), the leading commercial broadcaster in the UK and Sky 1, Nickelodeon, Sky Sports and MTV (satellite). Programming was recorded in matched pairs of channels (e.g. Granada Sports versus Sky Sports) at the same time and date of broadcasting, with advertisements selected from three commercial breaks each night per weeks coverage. Repeated advertisements were removed from the analysis, leaving a nal sample size of 539, a number comparable to other studies of advertising content (see, for example Stern and Resnik, 1991; Zandpour et al., 1992). Each advertisement was coded according to whether it contained any of the strategies, styles or forms presented by each framework. Intercoder reliability tests were conducted between the two researchers giving a Perreault and Leigh (1989) reliability index above the satisfactory level of 85% prescribed by Kasserjian (1977). The advertisements were also coded by product category using Gillys (1988) classi cation, product form (durable goods, non-durable goods, services and corporate advertisements) and product scope (national and global brands). FINDINGS General ndings are presented and are followed by ndings speci c to each research question. These are then discussed in turn. Consumer non-durables accounted for 51% of the national brands advertised and 68.5% of the global brands advertised. This difference was found to be statistically signi cant ( p < 0.01). There were more advertisements for national brands (38%) than advertisements for global brands for consumer service products. This was also statistically signi cant ( p < 0.01) (Table 1). Most of the advertisements (n = 64) (31.5%) for national brands were classi ed in the restaurant and retail product category (see Table 2). The difference between advertisements for national and

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TABLE 1.

Product form by national and global brand advertising National brand advertising (n = 203) na % 51.2* 38.9* 11.3* Global brand advertising (n = 336) na 230 61 43 % 68.5* 18.2* 12.8*

Consumer non-durable Consumer service Other


a

104 79 23

Only categories with signi cant differences are shown. * p < 0.01.

TABLE 2. Top 3 most frequent product categories for national and global brand advertising Product category National brand advertising Restaurant and retail Food, snacks and soft drinks Entertainment Global brand advertising Restaurant and retail Food, snacks and soft drinks Entertainment
* p < 0.01.

n 64 34 23 26 40 118

% 31.5* 16.7 11.3* 7.7* 11.9 35.1*

global brands in this product category was signi cant ( p < 0.01). There were 118 advertisements for global brands for the entertainment category compared with only 23 for national brands. This was also signi cant ( p < 0.01). RESEARCH QUESTION 1: WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES, IF ANY, BETWEEN ADVERTISEMENTS FOR NATIONAL AND GLOBAL BRANDS IN TERMS OF LENGTH, CAMERA SHOTS, CHARACTERS, MUSIC AND SUBTITLES? Global brand advertisements on average lasted 2 seconds longer than national brand advertisements, but this difference was not statistically signi cant. However, the difference in the number of camera shots per advertisement was signi cant, with global brands averaging 14.4 shots per advertisement as compared to 10.5 shots per advertisement for national brands (p < 0.01) (Table 3). Seven other elements concerning the structure of the advertisement and other content details were also examined, with signi cant differences found for two. Characters present refers to any physical characters within the advertisement. The results showed a very high percentage of characters present for both national and global brands. However, global brand advertising had a signi cantly higher number of advertisements with characters present than national brand

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TA BLE 3.

Means of length of advertisements and number of camera shots National brand advertising mean Global brand advertising mean 26.00 14.43*

Length (s) Camera shots


* p < 0.01.

24.03 10.54*

TA BLE 4. Frequency of other elements of national and global brand advertisements National brand advertising Structural element Characters present Music present Subtitles/Text present Narration only Males present Females present Children present
* p < 0.01.

Global brand advertising n 294 43 18 275 149 168 224 % 87.5* 12.8* 5.4 81.8 44.3 50.0 66.7

n 160 64 12 163 95 106 147

% 78.8* 31.5* 5.9 80.3 46.8 52.2 72.4

advertising ( p < 0.01). The type of characters appearing (male, female and children) showed no signi cant differences between the two types of advertisements (Table 4). The presence of music was also found to differ signi cantly, with 31.5% of advertisements for national brands using music compared with only 12.8% of advertisements for global brands (p < 0.01). RESEARCH QUESTION 2: WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE CREATIVE STRATEGIES OF ADVERTISEMENTS FOR NATIONAL AND GLOBAL BRANDS? Table 5 shows the distribution of the individual creative strategies used in national and global brand advertising. The most frequent creative strategy employed for both national and global brands was motivational with psychological appeal, where some bene t to the consumer is described. The second most frequent creative strategy for both brand types was symbolic association. However, in third place the rankings differed, with habit starting accounting for 15% of advertisements for national brands and the argument strategy accounting for 12.2% of advertisements for global brands (Table 5). A signi cant difference ( p < 0.01) was found for the habit starting strategy (offer of a sample or reduced price to initiate a regular practice or routine with the product usually featured (Simon, 1971), with this strategy used much more for advertising national brands (15.3%) than global brands (3.3%). Another main difference between the two groups was in the frequency of the

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Ta bl e 5. Frequency of individual creative strategies for national and global brands National brands Creative strategy Information Argument Motivational Repeated assertion Command Brand familiarization Symbolic association Imitation Obligation Habit starting Total
* p < 0.01.

Global brands n 18 41 139 2 2 34 70 11 7 11 336 % 5.4 12.2 41.4 0.6 0.6 10.1* 20.8 3.3 2.1 3.3*

n 9 23 76 3 1 8 37 10 5 31 203

% 4.4 11.3 37.4 0.6 0.5 3.9* 18.2 4.9 2.5 15.3*

brand familiarization strategy, with only 4% of advertisements for national brands using this strategy as compared to 10% of advertisements for global brands (p < 0.01). An overall analysis of creative strategy was also conducted using the properties of stimulus typology developed by Reid et al. (1985) and extended more recently by Farrall and Whitelock (1998b). Reid et al. (1985) split the ten activation methods developed by Simon (1971) into two groups using just six of the concepts. Motivation, argument and information were grouped as conscious-oriented stimuli (an attempt to convey explicitly the selling idea of the message to the audience (Reid et al., 1985, p. 16) ) and symbolic association, brand familiarization and imitation were grouped as subliminal-oriented stimuli (an attempt to implant the message without the audiences being fully aware of the selling idea (Reid et al., 1985, p. 16) ). Farrall and Whitelock (1998) added another group of stimuli from Simons (1971) classi cation to those developed by Reid et al. (1985) and grouped habit starting and obligation as sales promotion-oriented stimuli (an attempt to gain audience attention with explicit special or free offers). There was little difference between the two types of advertising for conscious-oriented stimuli. However, a higher proportion of advertisements for global brands used subliminal-oriented stimuli (p < 0.05). Advertisements for national brands used sales promotion-oriented stimuli more than advertisements for global brands, a highly statistically signi cant nding (p < 0.01) (Table 6). RESEARCH QUESTION 3: WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE STYLES OF ADVERTISING EMPLOYED IN ADVERTISEMENTS FOR NATIONAL AND GLOBAL BRANDS? The overall frequencies for the advertising styles framework indicated that the catalogue style was the most frequent (23%) (product is the main element of focus, features described without any frills), followed by the practical style (the commercial underlines the bene ts of the products in the daily life of customers (Cathelat and Ebguy, 1988)).

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TA BLE 6. Differences between global and national brand advertising in relation to properties of stimulus (Reid et al., 1985; Farrall and Whitelock, 1998) National brand advertising Properties of stimulus Conscious-oriented stimuli Subliminal-oriented stimuli Sales promotion-oriented stimuli
* p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01.

Global brand advertising n 198 106 18 % 58.9 31.5* 5.4**

n 108 46 36

% 53.2 22.7* 17.7**

The practical advertising style accounted for 23% of advertisements for the national brands group. This style was ranked third for global brands, accounting for 16% of the sample (signi cant at p < 0.06). No other signi cant results were recorded (Table 7). RESEARCH QUESTION 4: WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE FORMS OF ADVERTISING EMPLOYED IN ADVERTISEMENTS FOR NATIONAL AND GLOBAL BRANDS? The main advertising form for the 539 advertisements, as de ned by Wells (1988), was the combined form of lecturedrama, which accounted for 58% of the total sample (51% of national brand and 63% of global brand advertisements, which was signi cant at p < 0.01). The lecture format was found in more advertisements for national than global brands, which was also signi cant at p < 0.01 (Table 8). RESEARCH QUESTION 5: TO WHAT EXTENT DO ANY SIGNIFICANT VARIABLES PROVIDE A GOOD PREDICTION OF WHETHER AN ADVERTISEMENT IS FOR A NATIONAL OR GLOBAL BRAND? A discriminant analysis function was calculated using concepts that were found to be signi cant in x2-tests in order to identify whether these signi cant variables were good predictors of whether an advertisement was for a national or global brand. In this instance, three signi cant variables from each framework formed the discriminant function, which correctly classi ed 52% of national brand advertisements and 59% of global brand advertisements, which was better than would be the case if the advertisements had been classi ed by chance, at least as far as global brands were concerned (Table 9). However, when other signi cant results for the differences between advertisements for national and global brands (number of camera shots, characters present or not and music present or not) were added to the discriminant function (Table 10), 55% of advertisements for national brands and 72.3% of advertisements for global brands were correctly classi ed. This was considerably better than if the advertisements had been classi ed by chance. SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT FINDINGS There were more global brand advertisements for consumer non-durables than national brand advertisements and more national brand advertisements for consumer services than global brand

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TABLE 7. Frequency of social and creative dimensions of advertising style for national and global brand advertising National brands Advertising style Ontological Egotistical Esoterical Catalogue Dramatic Funny Practical Social positioning Hedonistic
* p < 0.06.

Global brands % 12.3 12.8 2.5 21.7 6.4 14.8 22.7* 3.0 3.9 n 35 57 4 85 27 44 54 12 18 % 10.4 17.0 1.2 25.3 8.0 13.1 16.1* 3.6 5.4

n 25 26 5 44 13 30 46 6 8

TABLE 8. Frequency of advertising forms for national and global brand advertising National brand advertising Advertising form Drama Lecture LectureDrama Total
* p < 0.01.

Global brand advertising n 77 47 212 336 % 22.9 14.0* 63.1*

n 46 54 103 203

% 22.7 26.6* 50.7*

TABLE 9. Signi cant variables from three frameworks as predictors of national and global brand advertising Framework Creative strategy Advertising style Advertising form Number successfully classi ed Percentage successfully classi ed Signi cant variables for national brand advertising Habit starting Practical Lecture 106 52.2 Signi cant variables for global brand advertising Brand familiarization Practical LectureDrama 199 59.2

advertisements. The most frequent product category for global brand advertisements was entertainment (35%) while that for national brand advertisements was restaurants and retail (31.5%). These ndings are not unexpected. The entertainment industry, particularly lm and video, is becoming increasingly global, while restaurants rely very much on local custom. Despite recent trends in the internationalization of retailing, retail chains also still retain a national brand name and image in many cases.

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TA BLE 10. Signi cant variables from three frameworks together with other structural elements as predictors of national and global brand advertising Framework Creative strategy Advertising style Advertising form Structural elements Signi cant variables for national brand advertising Habit starting Practical Lecture Number of camera shots (-) Characters present (-) Music (+) 110 55.2 Signi cant variables for global brand advertising Brand familiarization Practical LectureDrama Number of camera shots (+) Characters present (+) Music (-) 243 72.3

Number successfully classi ed Percentage successfully classi ed

+, greater use than in other brand group; -, less use than in other brand group.

Global brand advertisements had on average four more camera shots per advertisement than national brand advertisements. There were also more global brand advertisements with characters present compared with national brand advertisements. Conversely, there were more national brand advertisements with music than global brand advertisements. It is not clear why this should be so, although it might be argued that, in the case of music for example, the choice of music may bring with it cultural values and implications which are not of interest to global branders. The analysis of creative strategies revealed signi cant differences for two speci c strategies: 10% of global brand advertisements used brand familiarization strategies compared with only 4% of national brand advertisements and 15.3% of national brand advertisements used habit starting strategies compared with only 3.3% of global brand advertisements. The majority of both national (53%) and global (59%) brand advertisements used conscious-oriented stimuli and 31.5% of global brand advertisements used subliminal-oriented stimuli as compared with 22.7% of national brand advertisements, whereas 17.7% of national brand advertisements used sales promotion-oriented stimuli compared with only 5.4% of global brand advertisements. In terms of advertising style, only one signi cant result was found: 22.7% of national brand advertisements were classi ed as a practical advertising style as compared with 16.1% of global brand advertisements. For advertising format, more national brand advertisements used the lecture format than global brand advertisements, while 63.1% of global brand advertisements were coded as having lecture-drama advertising as compared with 50.7% of national brand advertisements. The signi cant variables were reasonably good predictors for global brand advertising (59.2% correctly classi ed) as compared to national brands (52.2% correctly classi ed). The inclusion of structural elements increased the predictive capacity of the discriminant function to 55.2% for national brand advertisements and 72.3% for global brand advertisements, which is considerably better than if classi cation had occurred by chance. CONCLUSIONS This study has identi ed differences between national and global brand advertising on four levels as indicated in the research questions developed for the study, i.e. through differences in creative strategy, advertising style and advertising format and also in terms of the structure of advertisements.

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Advertising for global brands was found to be more likely to contain more camera shots and characters and less likely to contain music than advertising for national brands. It was also found to be much more likely to use the lecturedrama format of advertising and more likely to be based on brand familiarization as a strategy (as compared to habit starting for national brands). These ndings may have implications for advertisers in the designing of their advertising campaigns. As with all studies of advertising, however, there are limitations to the research recorded here. Firstly, the sample of advertisements was speci c to a particular time. Nevertheless, a total of 551 advertisements were analysed, a gure that compares favourably with previous research into advertising (see Resnik and Stern, 1977; Zandpour et al., 1992). Secondly, the frameworks employed in this study have themselves been reported as having coding problems, in particular in relation to the overlapping of concepts (Reid et al., 1985; Martenson, 1987; Farrall and Whitelock, 1998b). However, these frameworks have been widely used in previous research and their use here provides consistency with the existing body of knowledge in this area. Thirdly, the study concerned itself with television advertising in one geographic market (the UK). Future research is needed in order to respond to this limitation. However, by examining the dimensions of this sample of advertisements the study benchmarked the features of two types of brand advertising. The signi cant ndings highlighted the differences between national and global advertising in terms of creative strategy, styles and formats. Further, the discriminant function developed successfully predicted the likelihood of these strategies, styles and formats being employed in the advertising of global brands. Future research on a similar sample from the same media using the same framework analysis will con rm or reject the differences between national and global brand advertising identi ed here. Research conducted outside the con nes of the UK would be particularly useful in this regard. Finally, the views of advertisers should be sought in order to improve our understanding of why these apparent differences have occurred.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We are grateful for funding from Manchester International Airport and the Research Promotion Fund of the University of Salford, without which this study would not have been possible.

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