Marketing guru: The folly of global TV ads
A view from Will Harris

Marketing guru: The folly of global TV ads

Global advertising campaigns may be popular with finance directors seeking to save money, writes Will Harris, but they fall flat at the point of broadcast

Q: Our brand operates in EMEA, Latin America and the US. The chief marketing officer wants us to create a single TV ad that can be run across all these markets, on the grounds that a unified approach will boost the campaign's effectiveness. Is there any proof that she's right?

A: True effectiveness is in the eye of the beholder. Your starting point must be this: to whom is your boss trying to demonstrate effectiveness?

If it's the finance director, the argument is clear-cut. Even if you made only four regional ads (versus one global one), you are funding the indulgences of four TV production companies. That's four lots of deli lunches, sushi dinners and organically sourced lattes.

There are a lot of hungry mouths to feed in the TV production world, and most finance directors have an aversion to being their breadwinner. If your boss has clocked this, I suggest you serve up an eye-watering money-saved figure from moving to one global commercial.

Alarming quotes

If her audience is procurement, the calculated efficiency number can be even more alarming. Procurement people tend to be incentivised on how much they save the business; the more alarming the quote for four films was in comparison to the final cost of one film, the closer procurement is to its bonus.

Perhaps your chief marketing officer has one eye on the industry awards panel, and thinks that by moving from a regional creative process to a global one, she will be liberated from her meaningless global role, and get to make ads again.

Perhaps she feels it's time to seek new challenges. What more effective way to start a new career chapter than putting herself forward for the Marketing interview slot. If you are in line for her job, you should help her with alacrity, then denounce her in the subsequent interview process.

Connecting people

I'm dismissing the possibility that the consumer is your audience. The idea of connecting people suffering in the austerity of southern Europe, with the optimism of those in the Americas is laughable. And how you can conceive of a message for the diversity of Africa that would work with the stiff northern Europeans is beyond me.

Global advertising creation on the grounds of efficiency works brilliantly from conception to the point of broadcast, when it doesn't.

Will Harris is a former marketing director for Nokia in the UK and Asia region. He was the first marketing director of the Conservative Party and launch marketing director of the O2 brand.