The ups and downs of global marketing

Globalisation – the corporate buzz word that started buzzing back in the days when we had to dial up every time we checked our email or googled for cat videos. As marketers, living in a globally connected world has opened up new industries, technologies, channels and audiences. As a result, work we create may be deployed anywhere from a quiet bus shelter in suburban Melbourne, to the iconic digital billboards of Times Square.

One of the key pros to developing campaigns for global implementation is monetary. Developing one key campaign, and rolling it out across the world saves the cost of developing original creative in umpteen markets. It also (in theory) delivers a consistent brand voice globally.

The con for local brands and agencies alike, is that we often feel that our market is unique, and that the creative isn’t relevant to our consumers. Naturally, we want something that is being executed in our market to be created with our own fair hands.

The process of applying global marketing work locally needs to be managed carefully, and collaboratively.

The best illustrations of this point are the more obvious international marketing fails where campaigns are translated in a direct and literal fashion, and not adapted with local market input.

Swedish vacuum manufacturer Electrolux was caught out when it introduced its products to the US. In an effort to hero the message of the vacuum’s high powered suction, their ad campaign focussed on the tagline “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.” Whilst the slogan may have been grammatically correct, the sentiment probably wasn’t quite what the Brand Manager in Stockholm had in mind.

It’s not just words that can have a direct impact on sales in foreign markets. When Proctor & Gamble’s nappy brand Pampers launched into the Japanese market, the packaging visual included a stork delivering a baby. Following some surprisingly slow sales figures, Proctor & Gamble discovered that Japanese shoppers were concerned and confused by the stork, because the folklore of storks bringing babies to parents simply isn’t a part of the Japanese culture. In Japan, the equivalent story includes a giant floating peach bringing babies to their parents. This is something that P&G Headquarters in London could have discovered through some earlier consultation with their local market, saving pounds/yen and some red faces at their London Headquarters.

For us at Cuckoo HQ, the success of Global development and local implementation is built on two key principles

Global strategic consultation
Too often, global headquarters develop a campaign without enough (or any) collaboration with the markets they are hoping will implement their work. Undertaking a more collaborative approach from the outset will mean markets will have ownership and be more likely to use the work. Sure it may mean extra effort to align different markets, but it will pay off when markets actually use and implement the work. It can also save embarrassing mistakes.

Consumer insight
The most ingenious creative idea is rendered useless if it isn’t based on genuine consumer insight. Brand marketers and agencies can too easily convince themselves that they know what is right for the brand, and what will speak effectively to their consumers. The reality is that even the most experienced Brand Manager or Strategy Planner has something to learn from the humble consumer.

So whether you’re a global headquarters, a lead market, or a local market being asked to implement a global toolkit, the key is early collaboration, sound research and insight, and resisting the temptation to impose our opinions or creative hunches.

It all comes down to thinking before doing. Get in touch with us to best position your brand for global success.