The World: Insider's view - Netherlands

Allowing local markets to adapt and intensify a brand idea can help consumers to interact more effectively with the advertising, Dave Cobban says.

Amsterdam is one of the world's most famous cities, yet it is one of the smallest. This big reputation stems from its international trading heritage. Today, that trade is less coffee and tobacco, and more creativity and design. I would go as far as to say that Amsterdam is one of the primary hubs of global advertising in the world, and this brings with it some specific tasks.

In global advertising, a unified brand voice, adapted and intensified by local markets, delivered in an integrated and interactive way, with in-market effectiveness, is the Holy Grail we are striving for.

The winners at the Euro Effies in Brussels at the end of last year demonstrated that this is the most effective way to deliver positive commercial returns.

Creating a unified voice across the 48 countries of Europe is one of the most challenging tasks a marketer can face. Reviewing the Euro Effie winners, it is clear that it is through intense interrogation of the brand itself that the answers lie. Using category generics is a recipe for disaster, as many beer brands have found out, and unlike advertising in a single market, finding a single unifying consumer insight is almost impossible in multiple markets.

Allowing local markets to adapt and intensify the brand idea is a far more effective way of speaking more insightfully to consumers. It also inspires any locally retained agencies to work with the brand idea rather than fight it.

The Euro Effie winners demonstrated that being media-integrated is vital to success. They also showed that allowing consumers to interact with the advertising leads to more powerful results. We are seeing far more advertising providing consumers with applications that aid their lives. Nike+, Uniqlo's blog clock and Toyota's free driving game for the Xbox 360 are three examples of this. It's called "branded utility".

As they say in the Cluetrain manifesto "markets are conversations", and there is nothing as powerful as conversations in the wild to drive a brand's reputation. We see time and time again that the most effective campaigns in Europe are those that create cultural resonance within each market. This is generated not just through the main media channels, but by the pointed activations that happen in the local market.

The measurement of success in Europe, as in markets such as Holland, should be an exercise in cultural, and commercial, analytics. The web provides us with good tools for measuring the cultural pull of our work, and can give context to our commercial analyses. But the ability to identify and isolate return on marketing investment across more than one market is a tough task, and is one of the reasons why the Euro Effies are a success.

Dave Cobban is the head of strategy and communication planning at Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam.