INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MEDIA: HOW TO BRAND A GLOBAL TITLE - Assimilating local difference into an international marketing strategy is key. By Richard Cook

By RICHARD COOK, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 24 October 1997 12:00AM

The rich, of course, are different; they have more money. International businessmen, on the other hand, are quite straightforward. And they share a similar vision. Both attributes are rare, in global marketing terms at least. Other brands might be selling to demographics that appear to be at least as homogeneous - fmcg brands to housewives, for instance - but actually they have to do so by making a virtue out of local differences.

The rich, of course, are different; they have more money.

International businessmen, on the other hand, are quite straightforward.

And they share a similar vision. Both attributes are rare, in global

marketing terms at least. Other brands might be selling to demographics

that appear to be at least as homogeneous - fmcg brands to housewives,

for instance - but actually they have to do so by making a virtue out of

local differences.



Whether that means making the Gold Blend couple more physical for the

South American market, more mawkish for the US, or shooting a different

ad altogether, these are the sort of executions for which the most

overused phrase in global marketing, ’think global, act local’, was

coined.



’What cross-border marketers have to realise is that there are more

similarities than differences between the consumers of their brands. But

it is precisely those similarities that they should be looking to

leverage,’ the Ogilvy & Mather international planning director, Linda

Caller, points out.



These similarities are more apparent in some audience demographics than

others. And nowhere are they more so than in the category of

businessmen.



The mantra engraved on any would-be global marketer’s mind is that

businessmen in New York and Nanking have more in common than businessmen

working in the same cities and their non-professional peers.



There is one other marketing group that advertisers can talk to

effectively - the young. However, it is one thing selling trainers to

young people across the globe who have grown up listening to the same

music, watching the same programmes and cheering on the same teams, and

quite another selling to a sophisticated, discerning business audience

that is constantly on the move.



Selling yourself to that same market is harder still.



’I think media owners have struggled to identify their own brand

identity more than they ever worried about creating precise messages to

target businessmen on a geographical basis,’ Mark Proudfoot, who works

on the multinational Fortune and CNN business at MediaCom, explains.

’Businessmen these days are truly supra-national. We start from the

point of view that a fund manager in Tokyo has more in common with a

fund manager in Frankfurt than he does with an ordinary Japanese

person.’



It’s a point of view that has rapidly gained currency among the

international business media itself. The Economist’s distinctive red

branding spearheaded the drive towards cross-national uniformity, while

the International Herald Tribune’s yellow press work runs virtually

unchanged across all of its markets.



The Financial Times also identified the need for worldwide uniformity

when it embarked on a drive to achieve the status of a true

international daily. When it first briefed agencies at the tail end of

last year, it was looking for a pan-European agency, since more than 90

per cent of the title’s 450,000 worldwide circulation is concentrated in

the UK and mainland Europe.



Before the pitch process could be completed, though, the FT’s parent

company, Pearson, stepped in with a pounds 100 million five-year

investment plan designed to turn it into a truly international title and

the brief had subsequently been widened to include the US and Asia

Pacific regions. The company switched from using a variety of agencies

in these countries to consolidating all of its advertising spend into

Delaney Fletcher Bozell.



Michael Murphy, the FT’s UK director who helped co-ordinate the review,

says: ’Our aim is to have a consistent brand image for the FT around

the world.’



The problem with that, for the FT as for all the international business

media, is that none of them have anything close to a consistent presence

around the world. The FT is committed to its tagline, ’No FT, no

comment’, devised by Mather & Crowther, but in some markets that is not

going to be effective enough. FT in France means France Telecom, in

Germany it suggests Frankfurter Trust to the average businessman and so

on. The solution has been always to spell out the full title as well,

and try to picture the paper itself, to make sure the message gets

home.



The Wall Street Journal refers to the FT as ’the London Financial Times’

in some of its promotional and comparative advertising work, thereby

emphasising its perceived parochialism and the fact that while the FT

measures its US sale in tens of thousands, the Wall Street Journal

hovers around the two million mark.



This, in turn, means that some sort of fill-in marketing frequently has

to be done in local markets to supplement the consistent brand

message.



’We basically run the same ads across all markets but we have to face

the fact that in some markets there are potential readers who aren’t

familiar with the product at all,’ says Delaney Fletcher’s deputy

managing director, Tom Knox, who heads the FT account at the agency. ’So

what we have done is produce different, tactical work for specific,

smaller scale campaigns: for example, to run a specific subscription

drive in the US, where we’ve had to explain in a lot more detail what

the FT is all about.’



The FT’s latest TV commercial includes an explanation of chaos theory,

where apparently unrelated events across the world can have an effect on

each other. It identifies a link between inflated property prices in

Thailand and the value of a fund management company on the other side of

the world decreasing by 50 per cent, and states that the FT covered both

stories. The ad highlights the fact that marketing newspapers and TV

networks in the future will have to take into account the global

picture.



’I think US companies are having the biggest problem making this

adjustment,’ Proudfoot concedes. ’Businessmen operate outside national

boundaries and therefore do not want their media coming to them through

the filter of any one particular country. If you ask businessmen outside

the US what they know about Fortune, the first thing they tend to

recollect is the Fortune 500 list of American companies. In the future,

it is highly likely they will think of the magazine in more rounded,

international terms.’



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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