A World Without Borders

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STRASBOURG, France -- Creating a brand takes hard work -- and a great deal of money. And it takes even more of both to get that brand recognized worldwide.

What you'll see when riding in a taxi from the airport into Paris is pretty much what you'll find around many American cities: billboards for Honda and other car companies, Toys "R" Us and even a United Parcel Service dispatch office. Once in Paris, you'll run across several Gaps, McDonald's and everything else American. (They may not like to admit it but I noticed quite a long line for people waiting for their Big Macs.)

On the train to the Federation of European Direct Marketing Forum here this week, I even spotted an Office Depot store. Much of the discussion at the conference centered on how businesses can market beyond their borders (see story, page 1). It's getting easier as technology continues to leap forward. If you're L.L. Bean, J. Crew or another cataloger with a Web site, all you need is a fulfillment center centrally located in Europe and you're set to sell to a market eager for American goods.

Even Eastern Europe wants in on the act. Monika Zarzycka, director general of Poland's direct marketing association -- Stowarzyszenie Marketingu Bezposredniego -- said Levi Strauss has a plant in her country that makes blue jeans. The country has 38 million people, she said, and most of the ones online right now are young people in their 20s and early 30s -- now there's a cybermatch.

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