OPINION: PINNELL ON ... GLOBAL ADVERTISING

The continuing consolidation of advertising agencies into ever larger groups on the global stage raises certain issues. Does the move benefit clients and shareholders, and what are its consequences? Will it lead to more global advertising campaigns, and if so will this lead to a smartening up or a dumbing down of creative work?

The continuing consolidation of advertising agencies into ever

larger groups on the global stage raises certain issues. Does the move

benefit clients and shareholders, and what are its consequences? Will it

lead to more global advertising campaigns, and if so will this lead to a

smartening up or a dumbing down of creative work?



In my opinion there are four factors which mark the evolution of global

advertising.



Firstly, the export of Americana. US companies, which put a global

perspective on their business opportunities, exported their products,

their personnel and their advertising. I have witnessed this in Africa,

where the US executive is cocooned from the local market by the

provision of air-freighted American beef for his freezer. I have seen it

in Japan, where a new American CEO is parachuted in every two years and

still can’t understand why ’they’ don’t drink coffee. But in most cases

Americana, a la Coca-Cola and Marlboro, did touch a consumer nerve and

the advertising ideas worked.



Secondly, the global village as a way of increasing agency profits. Some

agencies promoted the concept because the creation of a global campaign

using an agency’s most expensive human resource - creatives - in one

place rather than spread out all over the world, and still charging the

client the same amount, does inflate an agency’s profits.



Thirdly, the client needs to save on costs. The logic is clear: produce

fewer commercials and save money.



Fourthly, the consumer case, which also improves agency and client

efficiency.



Here, one is searching first and foremost for consumer similarities, not

differences. Are there any common needs? Are there images that appeal in

similar ways? Can we use sensitive research in different countries to

understand these images, and develop advertising that will - because it

has a global budget - have more of an impact than anything that can be

created locally?



My opinion is yes. Probably it will need to be developed on a ’modular

basis’. That is, it may not be exactly the same in all markets. The

basic strategy is the same, the basic communication idea is the same,

but the execution is received by different consumers and is still

relevant to them.



However, there are pitfalls. I once saw the notion of cost savings

applied to an international project for chocolate. In the UK chocolate

is eaten between meals as a snack, and in bar form. In Switzerland, it

is eaten at the end of the meal as a dessert. An attempt to produce work

that transcended boundaries failed because the consumer context was

different.



Because a frame, a line, or an image can be crucial to the modern

reality of marketing, the mass market is dead and the global consumer

does not exist. But customers with common needs and motivations are a

reality across the world, and we can find a way of efficiently tapping

into them with a global - yet modular - approach.



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