Copy that addresses the nuances of a particular national market is
vital to successful global advertising, but - as the embarrassing gaffes
in many international campaigns testify - it isn’t always best handled
by the local office of the agency that created the campaign.
Hence the existence of outfits like World Writers - an advertising
adaptation company that has successfully sold its knowledge of local
culture, laws and language to agencies and advertisers since 1992. This
is an area that agencies have traditionally left to such specialists -
Bartle Bogle Hegarty, famous for its anti-network stance and for ’doing
it all from London’ (its Singapore office aside) is attempting to
increase its penetration of international markets by setting up BBH
Writers. A string of local copywriters fluent in main European languages
apart from English - French, Spanish, Italian and German - has been
recruited to adapt core creative ideas developed in London.
BBH Writers is born as the agency celebrates a second Queen’s Award for
Export Achievement, a testament to the fact that out of its 31 clients,
15 require multinational advertising. Since winning its first award, it
has signed up four new international clients: Metaxa, Time magazine,
Perfetti and Cointreau.
According to Elizabeth de Vise, the head of international copy
production at BBH, ads are ads, not just pieces of text. Advertising
copy cannot be translated, she argues, it needs to be adapted, while
recognising that markets are different, consumers are different and that
advertising conventions and languages are different.
De Vise denies that BBH Writers is an attempt to muscle in on the
advertising adaptation market that has effectively belonged to World
Writers for years, but it certainly owes something to the tough stance
on all production costs instigated by Mark Collier, BBH’s head of
production. ’We are still working with other adaptation companies,’ de
Vise says. ’But our international workload is growing and BBH Writers
will be more cost efficient.’