’If it’s Tuesday it must be Dusseldorf. Or should that be San
Diego? Barcelona even, or was that last month?’
This is what it’s like for the international business person, jetsetting
around the globe attending conferences and meetings. And for all that is
seen of the far-flung destinations, these conferences might as well be
at the Trust House Forte in West Hartlepool.
Tom Knox, the deputy managing director of Delaney Fletcher Bozell, calls
this group the ’corporate nation’. He explains: ’These men and women are
defined by the job or work they do, rather than by their
They are loyal to a logo rather than a flag.
They are also united by a common language, which is English, a common
creed - market capitalism - and a common experience, namely working for
Travel, in fact, is one of the few things that unites this rather
disparate breed, who spend around a quarter of their lives either in
transit or abroad. Andy Hopkinson, the worldwide account director at
Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO for ICI Paints and the International Wool
Secretariat, sums up the life of the international businessman. ’There
is no average day or week, but I would say that around 25 per cent of my
time is spent away from the office. I’m packing my brief-case for Hong
Kong and I’ve no idea what to put in. It really is life on the hoof, but
the motto is that when you go away, you make the most of it, and you
have two things on your mind - to get there as prepared as possible, and
to not waste your journey time,’ he says.
These two factors have a direct impact on the globetrotting employee’s
media habits and needs, which are necessarily different from those of
the average UK businessperson who sits at the same desk most of the
First, he or she must prepare for the trip - finding out about the
regional and corporate culture. Second, because he or she spends so much
time flying, the time in the air is more likely to be spent consuming
chunks of business media than just watching the in-flight movie.
Over the past ten years, however, these basic media needs have
The dramatic advances in technology, combined with the increasing
globalisation of business have, inevitably, altered the lifestyle and
demands of the busi-ness traveller.
Paul Maglione, the vice-president of marketing for CNN International,
explains: ’Over the past decade businessmen’s schedules have become far
more crowded in terms of the stimuli they are receiving. They now have
e-mail, fax, voice-mail and mobile phones, which all mean there are
fewer buffers between them and outside demands on their attention. They
are now bombarded by messages, so their attention spans have become
This has meant the international businessperson is now far more
demanding of the media that serve him or her. They have less time or
inclination to sit and watch TV or listen to the radio, or plough
through pages of prose until they find something relevant to them.
Whether they are travelling or in their office, they want to know what
they can get and they want it straightaway.
Tightly defined niche media that, say, deliver news around the clock, or
specialise in providing business data, have benefited from this
development. While multinational companies are embracing global
strategies and deals more and more, they have also realised that
localisation and regionalisation are still important.
Businesses are run now as ’glocal’ operations - that is, with global
strategies that are executed regionally.
Despite the advances in technology over the past ten years and the
creed, think global, act local, shifting around the world for
face-to-faces has increased dramatically, with video conferencing and
teleworking yet to make a real impact. Latest industry estimates suggest
that those employees going on three or more business trips a year has
increased by 70 per cent over the past decade, while those doing six or
more trips a year has increased by 100 per cent.
This increase in travel means that there is, arguably, more time in
which to be targeted by the media and these travellers have developed a
greater thirst than before for genuinely informed commentary about the
different markets and countries they visit.
Hopkinson explains: ’An international business person needs to be truly
international. In the past he could be a little bit imperialistic,
arriving in a country from his home or the company’s mother country,
making his presentation or whatever and disappearing. But now he has to
be more appreciative of the socio-economic and political forces of the
place he is visiting.’
Such a development has affected the media. Knox, whose agency, Delaney
Fletcher, landed the Financial Times’s advertising business earlier this
year, comments: ’Ten years ago, people were quite wide-eyed about
pan-regional media or global media and they were optimistic about media
becoming global. However, even today there are not that many media buys
that are truly global. While communication is still bound up with idiom
and local cult-ural customs, making international campaigns difficult,
media is too.’
Indeed, most of the media serving the international business market have
geographical weaknesses. The FT, for example, has Europe sewn up but
lacks real strength in the US, while the Wall Street Journal has the US
sewn up and needs a stronger presence on the Continent. The
International Herald Tribune is also primarily a read for the ex-pat
American in Europe.
CNN is one of the very few truly global media, but it is often not rated
as a real power medium and many Euro-pean advertisers are sceptical
about it actually being watched. There are also various affiliations of
clubbed print media supposedly offering coverage of the globe, but it is
still hard to reach international business people in one go via these
link-ups. The only truly powerful worldwide medium is the Internet
which, although it is developing very fast, is still in its relative
infancy in the minds of many market-ing directors.
Despite the difficulties of reaching this particular consumer in one
fell swoop, the international businessman and woman remains a highly
attractive proposition for advertisers, whether they be marketers of
luxury goods or business-related products. These people tend to have a
high disposable income and not enough time to spend it. What better time
is there to appeal to this captive market, than when they are 30,000
feet up in a plane?