BURKITT ON ... GLOBAL CAMPAIGNS

Globalisation is everywhere. The Listening Bank is globalising itself into a set of initials. Heinz is planning to wow us with a global ketchup campaign and Pepsi is pregnant with a campaign from Paris.

Globalisation is everywhere. The Listening Bank is globalising

itself into a set of initials. Heinz is planning to wow us with a global

ketchup campaign and Pepsi is pregnant with a campaign from Paris.



There’s only one problem. Most global campaigns are terrible. And if it

is true, as reported, that the HSBC campaign urges customers to ’live,

eat and breathe the hexagon,’ I’m not holding my breath to see if the

bank will shatter my theory.



But the urge for companies to grow, and for growing companies to want to

build global brands, is unstoppable. So what should globalisers do about

advertising?



The first thing they should note is that many global brands use local

advertising and use it well. McDonalds and Volkswagen have been singled

out for lavish praise by Campaign for their idiosyncratic English

advertising over the past year. And both are doing well in the

market.



The second thing to note is that agencies are only too happy to mimic a

client’s power structure in offering around-the-world service, but this

is rarely a good structure for producing brilliant advertising.



Big agencies parade their local successes and hide their international

campaigns from awards juries. Even brilliant agencies like Rainey Kelly

Campbell Roalfe have been known to do indifferent advertising in

response to an international brief.



Global advertising also usually takes an unconscionable time

gestating.



The same DMB&B that has just won Blackthorn cider, in competition with

some of London’s best agencies, has spent 18 months not producing an

answer to an international brief for a drink brand we used to handle

locally.



Of course, brilliant advertising ideas, like the Budweiser frogs, can

jump borders with ease. But if you appoint an international committee to

brief an agency, the chances are it will produce a brief without a

solution, sapped by compromise.



So if you want to go global, start local. Find a really talented team

somewhere in the world that genuinely likes working with each other.

Keep the objectives of the brief simple and the requirements for

advertising content minimal. When you have the big idea, unless you own

the company, you’ll need the cunning of Machiavelli and the subtlety of

Stalin to see it through.



Managers like the idea of global campaigns because they want cost

savings and consistency. But a cheap campaign that doesn’t work is as

useful as a cheap pair of shoes that don’t fit. And uniformity has no

value in itself. A computer company boasted recently that it was running

the same campaign in 47 countries and 30 languages. Unfortunately, it

wasn’t saying anything worth hearing in any of them.



Advertising, like all good selling, needs to relate to its audience. If

you wouldn’t consider globalising your sales force, why globalise your

advertising?



Stay close to your consumers. Let your marketers do their marketing and

ensure they are aware of the best advertising that your company and your

competitors are producing. The chances are it won’t be ’global’.



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