Instead, to paraphrase Prince Charles, the locals just don't seem to know their place any more. Local brands are running rings round their multinational competitors.
Consider the big Asian winners at Cannes in recent years, starting with the fact there have been big Asian winners at Cannes in recent years.
One big hitter was heard asking: "Who the hell does Malaysia think it is, winning the Grand Prix?"
Who indeed? And, for the most part, it has been local Asian brands that have been winning. Not just the local restaurant, either, but big household product manufacturers such as India's Fevicol Glue. A look at its reel reveals years of effort moving from laughable testimonials to award-show glory (and its creator from anonymous Cannes delegate to chairman of the jury).
Thailand, too, has seen its local cosmetic brands Mystine and Giffarine pick up metal on the Riviera. Last year, the "worms" commercial produced by BBDO for Unif Green Tea added another gold to the tally.
What's interesting in the latter case is that the campaign took the brand from launch to category leadership in less than 12 months, overtaking two multinationals in the process.
And while people have been buying Asian electronic gear for years, a local Asian DVD maker getting the gold seal of approval from the somewhat pickier consumers in the jury rooms is more remarkable.
Print is now strong across the region - surprising and well-executed work is coming out of places such as Ho Chi Minh and Manila, as well as Mumbai and Singapore (which provided last year's most-awarded print campaign in the world, according to the Gunn Report).
All of which leaves global brand missionaries in a quandary. Adapt to conditions on the ground? Or continue preaching the head office gospel to people who aren't listening? Smarter marketers are doing the former; smarter head offices are letting them. A global strategy can be intelligently interpreted in every local market, regardless of size, location or average annual rainfall. A point that might be appreciated on a cold January Thursday in London.
- David Guerrero is the chairman and chief creative officer of BBDO Guerrero Ortega.