Global Advertising: Clients talk global

Four top-level marketers from global brands talk about the factors influencing the ad industry in their region and what they expect for the business in the months ahead. - ASIA by Gerry Oh, the vice-president of marketing communications for Singapore Airlines

What are your predictions for the growth of the advertising market in Asia in 2004?

The interest within Asia for Euro 2004 should help drive growth in the region. The summer Olympics will obviously help, especially as Beijing 2008 starts to attract the attention of many in Asia. The emergence of strong Asian brands will also help, as these newer brands will establish a footprint within Asia before moving on to the world stage. Likewise, international/western brands are more sensitive to the opportunity to continue to build brands within the Asian market.

What are the biggest obstacles to growth of the advertising market in Asia this year?

The US economy, were it to splutter, would impact, but increasingly there is an emphasis on trade within the Asian region. If something similar to Sars were to arrive unexpectedly it would definitely have an effect, but the region is much more prepared.

Rising media costs will be an issue. Many companies are finding it more difficult to consider traditional advertising, preferring to use online channels because media owners do not appear to value the benefits of longer-term partnerships with clients. That's why clients are more prepared - wisely or unwisely - to only invest in their own online channels. The issue is whether media owners can offer buyers more innovative integrated marketing solutions, which, according to clients such as Singapore Airlines, seem to be sadly lacking in the advertising and media industry.

What is the best ad you've seen this year from Asia?

Our own A345 Leadership TV commercial by Batey (part of Red Cell),"making the world a smaller place", for our ultra-long-haul aircraft is pretty special. Fallon is doing some interesting work for United Airlines, but my favourite is the broadband spot for Hi-Net in Taiwan (by Batey).

Which advertising agencies have the best reputation in your market?

Most of the more significant agencies in Asia are part of western multinational groups. Within that category, Ogilvy & Mather has a strong creative reputation.

Batey, as the only home-grown agency network, continues to be well regarded. Thailand as a market is producing some interesting work and many good reputations are being built there.

Which advertiser do you most admire and why?

For Singapore Airlines, the unique advertiser is HP with its "plus" campaign. It offers a fresh and innovative perspective for each execution but with a unifying tagline. Different each time but consistent and reliably clear.

Which areas of the world do you identify as the leading lights of creative advertising?

Singapore, despite the loss of some local talent to Europe and the US, has not lost its lustre. Bangkok, Manila and, increasingly, Shanghai would be my three other picks in Asia. The US seems to be hitting its stride as well, and increasingly in markets other than New York.

What is the state of the relationship between clients and their agencies in your region at the moment?

In flux, generally. The smarter brand owners are seeing the value that a strong and stable agency relationship can add to business success. Asia's reputation for its tough trading mentality has at times translated into short-term relationships that revolve on the basis of a deal. That will change over time, as brand-building is better understood and practised in Asia. The relatively new arrival of agency consultants has also, as expected, resulted in downward pressure on fees, straining some relationships.

But most of the successful brands in Asia enjoy long and healthy relationships with their agencies - maybe not as long as our 33 years with Batey, though.

It takes a commitment to hard work and real partnership on both sides for it to work.

Do you think the advertising agency network model is working? How does it need to change?

I think we'll see some experimentation in this area over the next few years. Close collaboration between the creative agency and the media agency can make it work best. Also a general respect for specialist skills that may not always be found within the classical agency is needed. The diversified agency model, or one-stop shop, is not to everyone's taste.

Our own bespoke model - with Batey as the lead agency supported by around 40 good local agencies - has worked well. It can be hard work at times, but you get to tap into genuine local understanding and cultural diversity.

And, as the agencies are generally independent, they don't feel that they are purely beholden to the needs of London- or New York-based network head offices. We want consistency but that doesn't mean a vanilla solution to meet global needs.

- LATIN AMERICA by Alessio Hagen, Intel's marketing manager, Latin America, Spanish region

What are your predictions for growth for the advertising market in 2004?

For the whole of Latin America, I expect growth of around 10 per cent.

What is the best ad you've seen this year?

El Palacio de Hierro Mexico by Teran Publicidad TBWA and the VIVO campaign in Brazil for Telefonica de Espana (by Africa).

Which advertising agency has the best reputation in Latin America?

In Mexico, it's McCann Erickson (also Mexico's largest ad agency). Across the region, the agencies that do advertising for Unilever's Axe deodorant (they include BBH, VOP in Argentina and Lowe in Brazil and Mexico).

Which global advertisers do you most admire?

Coke and Sony.

Which areas of the world do you identify as the leading lights of creative advertising?

Argentina is the most creative country in Latin America - its agencies have won more awards than its neighbours. It's amazing what a financial crisis can do to inspire creativity.

What is the state of the relationship between clients and their agencies in Latin America?

It's pretty healthy, although I think clients are increasingly asking for something beyond a boost to their brand awareness. We want campaigns that increase consumers' purchase intentions.

Do you think the advertising agency network model is working? How does it need to change?

I think advertising needs to be more closely associated and integrated with the other marketing disciplines. Take experiential marketing. It's growing in importance because it allows people to touch and feel the brand - and it shows what a 30-second commercial can't. We have to find a way for the disciplines to work better together.

- The US by Jennifer Sey, the director of marketing for Levi's

What are your predictions for growth of the advertising market in the US in 2004?

We've just embarked upon the biggest print campaign in our recent history, which says a lot about the growing confidence in the US economy.

What is the best ad you've seen this year from your region?

The iPod ads by TBWA have done a great job supporting a new product, while celebrating the strength of the Apple brand.

Which other advertisers do you most admire and why?

Apple, Volkswagen and Nike all produce advertising that does a terrific job of supporting well-established brands.

Ad clutter is getting worse, particularly in the US. What's the most effective way to cut through and a build brand?

Be aware of the changes in the media landscape. Validate the impact those changes might have on "more traditional" media vehicles, and respond with research and appropriate testing. We, for example, are increasingly advertising on the web for its ability to reach people who use online for shopping and product research.

What makes a strong global brand?

The ability to remain true to your core brand value worldwide, and then adjust that proposition as appropriate to meet specific regional needs and interests. For us, it would be ensuring we remain the iconic denim leader but offer styles and fits that appeal to select markets or regions.

- EUROPE by Michael Winkler, the European business unit director of Braun

What are your predictions for growth of the advertising market in Europe in 2004?

I would guess between 4 and 6 per cent.

What are the biggest obstacles to growth of the advertising market in Europe his year?

Germany. If you take it out from my growth estimate, I would predict 8-10 per cent.

What is the best ad you've seen this year?

My favourite is still the Stella Artois campaign (by Lowe). I'm very fond of the whole series, but especially the latest featuring the convicts on the prison ship.

Which advertising agencies do you think have the best reputation in Europe?

I couldn't pick out an individual network, but that doesn't mean there aren't any good offices. We work with BBDO a lot. It is strong in some countries and weaker in others, just like its rivals. As for individual agencies, in Germany, it would be Jung von Matt. Most people think of it as Germany's most creative agency.

Which other global advertisers do you most admire and why?

Vodafone and T-Mobile. A few years ago they realised they needed to develop a common utility service into something with character. They have done this excellently, through a clever combination of sponsorship and advertising (the Steffi Graf/Andre Agassi ads were well received in Germany). It is clear that both companies take their communication very seriously. Their brands have bags of personality in Europe.

Which areas of the world do you identify as leading lights of creative advertising?

I've lived in France, Germany, the UK and now Switzerland, and I've spent a lot of time in the US, but it's still the most fun to watch advertising in the UK. There are two reasons for this. The first is that UK TV consumers expect advertising to be entertaining, to a degree. In other countries, they expect advertising to be informational. The second thing is British humour. No other country's matches it.

What is your opinion on the state of the relationship between clients and their agencies?

Agencies are very high up the food chain, much higher than mere suppliers.

We are seeing more procurement people getting involved in negotiations to reduce costs. But advertising is not a commodity. From agencies, we buy knowledge and creativity, advice and ingenuity at building a brand.

We are partners. If they're good, agencies can add a lot of value.

Do you think the advertising agency network model is working? How does it need to change?

I think it works well if you bring the creative and media agencies to one table. We do this with MindShare and BBDO. We work as a team. The unresolved issue is ongoing agency consolidation. You'll find that, if you're looking for a global media agency, one does Procter & Gamble, one does Unilever and one does Wilkinson Sword. That makes things difficult.

Having said that, I don't think it's a big problem but the conflict issue could get a lot worse. But maybe it's the clients who should be a bit more relaxed about it. It's a trend that will impact global advertisers and, increasingly, we'll have to accept it.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus