CAMPAIGN REPORT ON TOP GLOBAL AGENCIES: Brands across borders - Managing a creative idea across international markets requires careful juggling. Emma Hall talks to five agencies to see how they achieve it

By EMMA HALL, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 20 October 2000 12:00AM

TBWA/LONDON AND SONY PLAYSTATION

TBWA/LONDON AND SONY PLAYSTATION

'We take a simple perspective: we are trying to capture one brand vision and one brand essence across the world. You need one agency to do that,' Garry Lace, the joint managing director of TBWA/London, says.

Lace runs the Sony PlayStation account across Europe, Australia and New Zealand and has divided TBWA's nine-strong PlayStation account group in London into brand and software teams.

PlayStation is only five years old and has managed to achieve consistent branding from the start. This has been helped by the fact that the same agency (give or take a few mergers) has been in charge of the business since its launch.

Lace adds: 'The brand knows what it stands for and it remains true to that. PlayStation is all about an irreverent, disruptive attitude and with our target group that doesn't differ much across markets.'

PlayStation's advertising runs in 25 markets, although client/agency relationships exist in only 13 of those.

In some of the more out-of-the-way places, Sony arranges distribution of its advertising with local suppliers such as Columbia Tri-Star.

Local markets run the big branding commercials from London, but they are allowed maximum flexibility in terms of tactical campaigns. For example, ads for soccer games do not run in Australia, and the appeal of driving games is a lot stronger in some markets than others.

'Chat room', TBWA's latest spot, was originally conceived to run in Eastern Europe, where the client wanted to run a PlayStation 1 campaign before PlayStation 2 becomes available. Once the ad was made, it became obvious that it had the right 'attitude' to run in the UK, and there are plans to run it across Europe until 24 November, when PlayStation 2 launches in major markets.

Meanwhile, the agency conducts global research into PlayStation's core audience every year to keep track of cultural and attitudinal shifts.

The marketing director, David Patten, is constantly pushing TBWA to think about how its ads will work outside the UK.

Of the brand's previous big commercials, 'double life' ran in 13 markets and 'Fifi' has been talking her own brand of cyberchat in ten different languages.

Maintaining its creative standards across borders appears not to be a problem for PlayStation. 'You just have to be cleverer with the work you use,' Lace says.



BMP DDB AND FRISKIES CATFOOD

Felix, the mischievous cartoon cat, first hit UK screens in the late 80s. The success of the original Felix campaign encouraged Nestle to roll out Friskies - and its advertising, by BMP DDB - across Europe and in South Africa.

Even in countries where Friskies is not heavily advertised, such as Spain, the image of Felix is seen on point-of-sale material and packaging.

The strategy of the naughty but irresistible cat seems to have resonance in all ten countries in which the advertising runs, making Felix easy to export across the globe. Felix is notorious for his antics and the different ways he behaves just to make sure that he gets his Friskies.

In the UK, advertising has driven Friskies' market share from 8 per cent into the upper 20s, and this success has been echoed in its other markets.

Nigel Beard, a board account director, runs the business from London, overseeing the strategy and creative consistency of the brand. All the visuals from the various campaigns are held in the Felix library at BMP's offices. In this way, when Felix is rolled out into new countries, there is a whole bank of relevant material that can be used, particularly as the images are so timeless.

South Africa, where Friskies was introduced this year, is the only market where a DDB agency is not involved, but Felix is exported there in the same way that he is to any other country.

Sometimes countries outside the UK will request new concepts, which will be created in London and then sent out to the relevant country ready to put words on the ad in the appropriate language.

Felix was not originally conceived as a global icon; he was created to be distinctive from Friskies' UK rivals, Whiskas and Kit-e-Kat. But the figure conveniently and easily translates into any language because there is no lip-synching necessary with a cartoon, so new versions can be dubbed at at minimal expense.



CLM BBDO AND PEPSI

Pepsi's global advertising empire is divided into two distinct territories: North America and the rest of the world. CLM BBDO in Paris runs all Pepsi's advertising outside North America. While the drink does not have the same level of popularity or the same image in all these countries, Pepsi has been able to create a single campaign, based on the 'ask for more' line, across the regions by focusing on one target market - teenagers.

Valerie Accary, the managing director of CLM BBDO, says: 'It's difficult for advertising but it helps that we have one clear strategy. Teenagers have the same universal aspirations.'

A central pool of seven or eight commercials is developed every year.

Each country chooses the most appropriate to run locally. 'In the Middle East, some ads are always rejected for cultural reasons,' Accary says.

Although the brief originates from Paris, it goes out to a number of different agencies as far afield as the Philippines and Spain. It will even get sent to the US, where Phil Dusenberry, BBDO's worldwide creative director, will sometimes script commercials himself.

The UK and France are big markets for Pepsi, but cola penetration is mature in these countries. A lot of marketing clout goes into Mexico, the Philippines, Thailand, Turkey and the Middle East, where the markets are already strong but are still developing rapidly.

Because Pepsi is committed to embracing music and sport as part of its ad strategy, local agencies are consulted on which bands and football teams are the most appropriate partners, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they will get to create the ads. The latest Robbie Williams Pepsi work was created in Paris, even though it will not run in France.

'We have a global/local outlook,' Accary says. 'We want global advertising and a universal message but we are not totally centralised. We are not extreme.'



LOWE LINTAS AND HSBC

Lowe Lintas masterminded the global relaunch of HSBC using a deliberately lean team. Nigel Gilbert, the worldwide account director on the business, says: 'It's to ensure that everyone who works on HSBC has a very specific role and remains keen and motivated.'

The agency's rebranding campaign is running in 81 countries across five continents, all of which Gilbert oversees with military precision. Lowe has constructed a customised 'extranet' for use by the agency and the client, with coded levels of access for security reasons.

Lowe won the pitch to relaunch HSBC in February 1999. The agency has two particularly sensitive issues to overcome: local resistance to rebranding and dealing with local agencies who work on HSBC without treading on their toes.

Gilbert travels a lot and makes regular presentations to the major markets to ensure that everyone is on board. He is satisfied that Lowe's operation is sensitive to local needs, although Lowe is naturally fighting to increase its hold on the business and, since winning the branding task, its HSBC business has tripled in size.

It is important that the whole Lowe network is involved in the business and that London isn't trampling all over the rest of the world. The original brief was sent out to five markets and the idea for using symbols in the campaign - which was adopted for print media worldwide - came from Lowe's agency in Cape Town, South Africa.

The agency has recently completed three large-scale commercials, which were directed by Tarsem. 'We are always looking for the best possible solution,' Gilbert says. 'It's difficult to develop work that fulfils all the normal criteria of Lowe's advertising - it has to be the best it can possibly be - but still applies equally well in all markets. The 'symbols' solution captured the character and contemporary feel of the brand.'



LEO BURNETT AND HEINZ TOMATO KETCHUP

As a huge global brand, Heinz Tomato Ketchup requires an appropriately large team to co-ordinate its advertising around the world.

Leo Burnett won the business following a gruelling international pitch in 1999 and immediately set up a global team to service the client. The worldwide group consists of representatives from the US, Europe and Canada.

The agency's first television work for Heinz Tomato Ketchup, which broke last year, originated from the US but ran across the world, unchanged except for the voiceover. The voiceover takes a sardonic, youthful tone, which had to be reinterpreted in some countries to fit with the local sense of humour.

In Italy, for example, different versions had to be made to run in the north and the south respectively. But the original US version ran widely, even in some European countries where English is not the first language.

Strategic work such as postcards, bus-sides, sponsorship and point of sale are created at a local level, but nothing is done without consultation with the lead agency for each region, which acts as a go-between with head office. By first checking whether any of the existing material in the regional bank is relevant, individual territories are able to keep costs down.

Leo Burnett's London office heads the European effort. This means constant liaison with the client's Pittsburgh headquarters and with regional head offices. There are constant conference calls, phone calls and e-mails so that everyone can keep abreast of what is going on.

Arianna Cefis, an account director on Heinz at Leo Burnett in London, says: 'You get a lot of satisfaction from seeing all the work done and you get to see everything from a global level right down to the minutiae. It's all a question of taking it through from global to local.'



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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