The World's Leading Independent Agencies: Serviceplan Group

We already live in an era of globalisation; brands now need to create innovative communication solutions that reflect the rise of glocalisation

Noder, Haller and Schill (l-r)…‘vital to take the cultural and social characteristics of different regions into consideration’
Noder, Haller and Schill (l-r)…‘vital to take the cultural and social characteristics of different regions into consideration’

What comes after globalisation? Let’s be honest, we are already living globally. Exports in world trade have increased since 1950 from $58 billion to more than $18 trillion; major trade routes have long been established; and logistics companies have created networks that span the globe. "Made in Germany" is still a seal of approval, but "made in China" is no longer synonymous with cheap production or poor quality. Increasing political, cultural and social interdependence, along with the removal of tariff barriers, have brought nations together and opened markets.

One of the biggest drivers of this wave of globalisation is the rapid progress of digitisation and, with it, "internetisation". This has heralded a shift in our perception of globality. We have never been more global than today. We have never been less restricted, independent and (potentially) informed. Born in Europe, studied in the US, a job in Asia and holidays with friends in Australia: this is now almost normal. And, thanks to static internet access and the increasing availability of mobile internet, we can stay connected. With crowdfunding, projects can be internationally planned, successfully financed and carried out. Anyone can be an author, musician or video artist and sell their works worldwide via the internet or "share" with others.

At the same time, market and social researchers have recognised the trend towards locality: for example, the growing number of consumers willing to pay more for locally produced goods or concerned with sustainability in order to protect their region. Faced with boundless freedom, we look for limits and long to put down roots that provide stability in rapidity, familiarity in the unknown. Familiar products and brands offer the promise of security, provide that stability and stand for quality through association with positive emotions or memories. It is a huge opportunity for companies to make their brands the companions of their target consumers worldwide.

Successful global brand management is, in particular, the process of analysing the characteristics of various markets. This is not just to hold their ground with brand connoisseurs but also to attract and inspire potential new customers. Global networking and the resulting flow of information cause a melding of cultures – but it is still vital to take the cultural and social characteristics of different regions into consideration.

Although this is not a new idea, it is difficult for many companies, as they struggle to decide which of their original values to retain globally and where regional values should be integrated. Whoever loses touch with people and their needs mis-plans and creates unprofitable niche products; and the best global product can only win if it convinces locally.

This is one of the reasons why, today, we no longer develop advertising campaigns per se but rather the best possible "glocal" communi­cation solutions for and with our clients. It is communication that conveys the core message and the spirit of a brand globally but can simultaneously integrate the particularities of regional markets at the local level.

Think globally, act locally; to combine global thinking with local implementation – that is our promise.

For this, three things are essential within modern agencies. First, creative potential and sensitivity: to gain people’s attention with fascinating stories that attract them to our brands and charge brands emotionally. Second, a deep understanding of media with rapidly developing and changing channels, in order to reach people with the right media at the right places and at the right times. Third, the mastery of new technologies to develop useful and relevant communication solutions for ever-changing opportunities – and, of course, to deal properly with the mass of digital data generated daily. We need to not only keep pace with technological developments but, wherever possible, to be one step ahead, ready to anticipate innovations and trends.

Only through the correct and precise interplay of these three components – creativity/creation, media and technology – can we create innovative communication solutions that succeed beyond the effect of a traditional single advertising campaign. These solutions are tailored to attract and involve people, to create a continuous, individualised communication chain from the first media contact through to purchase and, ideally, future purchases.

Think globally, act locally; to combine global thinking with local implementation – that is our promise. Since 2006, at what is now the largest owner-managed agency group in Europe, we have worked on our vision to become the first global partner-managed agency group of German origin. We manage our clients worldwide and stand by their side, across national boundaries, as they go global. We are represented today in more than 30 cities, wherever possible with our "house of communication" concept, which rests on the aforementioned three pillars: creation, media and technology. And, in every location, we have two managers: one who has the global market in mind and one who is a local expert.

What follows globalisation is glocalisation – and it has already begun.

Florian Haller is the chief executive of Serviceplan Group