EUROPEAN AGENCIES: Not made in Soho

By ROB GRAY, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 18 October 2002 12:00AM

Rob Gray takes a look at the history behind four pan-European creative campaigns that are run out of European cities other than London.

BETC EURO RSCG - Wonderbra

The Paris-based BETC Euro RSCG has been handling Wonderbra's advertising across France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK since 1997. An advertising taskforce comprising client and agency members is in place to ensure that advertising executions are always appropriate for each market.

Wonderbra is keen to ensure that a consistent image of its product, with its proposition as bust-enhancing lingerie, is seen across Europe. The creative tends to be visually led. The client also looks for cost economies in taking a pan-European approach.

The most recent campaign launched on 30 September 2002, featuring the 26-year-old Russian model Inna Zobova as the latest in a line of "brand ambassadors". The new campaign was shot by Ellen von Unwerth, who also shot the past campaigns featuring Adriana Karembeu and Eva Herzigova.

Wonderbra looks to amplify its advertising with PR, especially when a new "brand ambassador" is used. The intention is to make a star out of the new girl.

Although the ad copy remains fairly consistent across markets, there is some flexibility in the translation to allow for local idioms. The balance of media employed varies as well, with heavier use of TV in Spain, for example, than in some of the other European markets.

"There is no issue over who decides about the advertising," BETC's founding chief executive, Eric Tong Cuong, says. "The central taskforce decides."

TBWA - Absolut

The Swedish vodka brand Absolut uses TBWA's Paris office to co-ordinate its EMEA and Asia-Pacific advertising. A four-strong central team at TBWA reports to the worldwide account director, Daniel Gaujac.

"The creative development is done with the client in Sweden," Gaujac says. "We don't involve the local markets directly in this but the creative benefits from the experience we have of these local markets."

Gaujac and his team travel extensively to the various markets, meeting with local agencies and the brand's distributors to discuss how the brand is marketed. They also visit bars and clubs where Absolut is served to observe consumer habits. The focus of much of the creative development is on consumers' lifestyles.

Absolut's advertising, like the drink itself, is intended to be fresh.

There have been around 1,000 executions in the ten years since TBWA took on the account. However, this freshness is underpinned by visual consistency. All the ads feature the Absolut bottle, which has led some to remark that it is one of the most elaborate packshot campaigns ever developed.

While the word Absolut is, forgive the pun, absolutely sacrosanct as the beginning of a headline, local markets may change the second part of the headline if it does not work well or come across as witty in the local context. Intriguingly, all copy, whether the ads run in Spain or Taiwan, must be in English.

"We've always said that English is an aspirational language," Gaujac says. "If you're in Uzbekistan you don't listen to the Rolling Stones in Uzbek. You want them to sing in English, even if you don't understand every word they are singing."

ARMANDO TESTA - Lavazza

The Turin-based agency Armando Testa has been working with the Italian coffee company Lavazza since the 50s, helping it to develop its brands.

In the 80s, the client began to develop its activity in export markets and sought consistency in its international advertising. Lavazza, a strong number one in Italy, is now available in almost 70 countries and advertises extensively in France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, the UK, parts of Eastern Europe, Australia and, of course, its domestic market.

"You could almost say that the two companies - Lavazza and Armando Testa - were born simultaneously and grew together," Lavazza's advertising manager, Maddalena Lembo, says. "Together they created the brands of Lavazza, such as Paulista."

The wholesome, geometrical graphical language used in Lavazza advertising during the 50s and 60s has given way to a raunchier look that features photographic images of attractive young women. Celebrated photographers such as David LaChapelle and Jean-Baptiste Mondino have been hired by Armando Testa to bring the Lavazza brand to life, working with the slogan: "Espress yourself."

In recent years, the objective has been to build a brand with a consistent international identity. To this end, advertising is created centrally in Italy and is designed to convey both entertainment and the fact that Lavazza sells quality coffee.

Armando Testa was set up in 1946 and has ranked as Italy's leading creative agency for the past 12 years. It is also the only top 15 agency in the country that is wholly Italian owned.

180 - Adidas

Since 1998, the Amsterdam-based agency 180 has run advertising for significant parts of Adidas' product portfolio on an international basis. The main categories include football and rugby products and the ClimaCool range of footwear.

For the run-up to this year's World Cup in Japan and South Korea, 180 created the "footballitis" TV and print campaign that showed leading players such as David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, Alessandro del Piero and even the famous referee Pierluigi Collina in the grip of obsessive football-related behaviour.

"You always want a brand to come across with one voice," 180's executive creative director, Peter McHugh, says. "Doing it the way we do it makes your chances of accomplishing it that much better."

The agency produces a global concept that is then fine-tuned for each market. A lot of the fine-tuning is done in Amsterdam by 180's multi-national, multi-lingual creative team.

Adidas uses TBWA in the US to handle its advertising for the Americas and globally for sports such as baseball and tennis. Some overlap is inevitable, and 180 and TBWA do co-operate on the development of certain international campaigns.

Although the World Cup grabbed much of the attention this year, the global advertising for the ClimaCool footwear range, which broke in March, was an important chunk of 180's work for Adidas. Three TV executions were developed, each with a cameo appearance by a top Adidas athlete: Beckham; the tennis star Anna Kournikova and the swimming champion Ian Thorpe.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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