International Marketing: Planning For Global Creative

Planning A Global Marketing Campaign

Paul Anderson, executive creative director of Gravity Global, says if you can build creative that can be injected with local flavor yet remain true to the brand, you’ll win at international marketing.

This article will make your B2B brand a global success. I was getting on a plane from Edinburgh with Ian, a very well-dressed Investment Manager who had been involved in marketing in his early years. As we were stood on the steps waiting for the people in front to get on the plane, he recalled his time working for Brylcreem.

“We saw our sales in Africa rising on an almost daily basis, so we thought we should give some marketing support to the region. After running our ad campaign, sales were not getting any better, and we couldn’t understand why. It came down to the fact that people were using the Brylcreem to cook with not to put in their hair”. 

In my book, this is not a creative problem, but it did make me think if there was a single creative idea that could sell Brylcream as a cooking fat and a hair product at the same time. The commercial I envisaged was rubbish and called ‘Waiter, there’s food in my hair.’

Brand globalization – Strategy Pitfalls To Avoid

As a creative person, I love the idea of globalization. That’s because I know it works, and it is better for the planet as a whole. Working together means that we create products, services, ideas, and concepts that provide our mobile global communities with things they can place their trust in. Trust in a brand is one of the most powerful motivating forces we have other than desire. Desire and trust together prove time and time again to be a very potent combination when it comes to sales.

Keith Helfet, the designer of the Jaguar XK8, said to me that his job was simple as all he had to do was create desire. When the prototype of the XK8 was launched, it had no designated engine, transmission, or suspension, yet it evoked such strong desire on first viewing with audiences. This was supported by the brand Jaguar, a name they could trust. A full order book for the XK8 was created in just a few days.

Creative ideas and marketing solutions are often called upon to create desire and trust in brands where maybe the core of the offering might not be so strong in the first place. It is easy to talk about Apple’s iPod or the significant impact of Microsoft or Google on the worldwide stage, but in our B2B world, we may not have such a sexy starting point or fertile creative territory.

One of the most significant issues our ideas face is the fact that you can no longer silo off markets. Global branding is becoming a more significant challenge. That’s because it’s no longer possible to isolate a brand and its reputation. The rest can often see the excellent strategy you create for your brand in one local market of the world, so the local communication ends up global anyway.

This is the result of the speed and spread of communications. Every consumer has access to nearly every piece of communication in the world. So true separation among markets has disappeared.

How To Globalize Your Creative Concepts With Content

So creatively, where does this all point? Firstly we have to question the robust nature of our creative concepts. Will they be able to cross borders and still have meaning? There are apparent language issues, but that is a given. The real art is in the birth of a creative construct that can be tweaked and injected with local flavor yet remain true to the overall brand.

In my book, Mastercard does this very well. The ‘priceless’ campaign is a creative vehicle that lets local creative talent go wild, have fun, be engaging, and thought-provoking in a way that kicks locally and at the same promotes the overall wellbeing of the brand attributes. There is no clever copywriting or play on words, just an excellent construct that is immensely flexible. HSBC does the global/local theme well, but for me, it lacks engagement. Mastercard makes it real and layers it with emotion and meaning.

Secondly, as brands and creative people, we have to leave our egos at the departure gate and realize that an ideal creative global platform may not actually be invented in the UK or North America. It may be that it comes from a country that is far more in touch emotionally than our cultures allow us to be. It also may be that the long-term picture is one of a brand that will be a major player in the new markets it is going in to now, and there will be a change of centralization of the brand in terms of management.

Identifying Your Brand Culture

This also has issues for the culture of a brand. I worked on several projects for a Japanese bank in the heart of The City of London, and I found their culture operating within a very established UK market fascinating. Their way was different, and I had to understand that before, I could understand how they might talk creatively to their audiences. Their physical and cultural differences actually manifested their actual point of difference.

I have a simple checklist when looking at creative concepts that have to work across borders.

  1. Does the creative idea work no matter what the language?
  2. Does the creative idea offer local freedom?
  3. Is the creative idea flexible enough to grow with the organization/service/product/brand?
  4. Is the creative idea appropriate for the organization/service/product/brand?
  5. Is the creative idea any good?

If your creative idea ticks all of the boxes above, then you are ready to go global with a unified thought, and your B2B brand will be a global success.

Posted by on April 23, 2010