Thinking local in global campaigns

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Brian Fethersonehaugh is chairman and CEO of Ogilvy Worldwide (Photo credit: Bill Bernstein)
Brian Fethersonehaugh is chairman and CEO of Ogilvy Worldwide (Photo credit: Bill Bernstein)

Multimedia opens digital doors to countries around the world, providing global growth opportunities to an ever-increasing number of companies. This access doesn't mean that marketing globally will be simple. Factors such as cultural taboos, country-by-country channel preferences, and varying data regulations prevent marketers from using cookie-cutter strategies when targeting consumers with a global campaign.

According to OgilvyOne Worldwide chairman and CEO Brian Fetherstonhaugh, brands launching global marketing campaigns need to develop locally relevant content to find success.

“Here's the mistake that most people make: They don't realize that global marketing is a two-sided equation,” says Fetherstonhaugh, who has more than 20 years experience working with clients such as American Express, Nestlé, IBM, and Coca-Cola. “You need both a unifying big idea, but also deeply relevant local campaigns that relate to local target audiences and relate to local channel mixes, and that's where most people miss.”

Achieving that balance requires local insight. He recommends that marketers survey prospective customers to understand a brand's international audience. Marketers need to  learn, for example, about what he calls the customer journey, which includes where and whether they conduct research prior to a purchase, whether customers tend to purchase through the Web or in-store, and how readily they listen to influencers. “If it's wildly different [from one country to the next], you can't do things the same,” he cautions. “If they're primarily the same, [the global campaign] lends itself to a lot more unification.”

He also encourages marketers to hammer down campaign logistics, including divvying up responsibilities at both global and local levels. Understanding, for instance, which stakeholder has the budget to fund a campaign, or has authority to approve its creative execution, is crucial.

Marketers also need to assess the regulatory and cultural environment of the countries in which campaigns will occur. These factors—depending on what they are—have the potential to limit marketing activities. For example, when working with Unilever on a Dove shampoo campaign in Malaysia, a primarily Muslim country, Ogilvy couldn't show women's hair in TV commercials. This forced the creative team to think differently.

“We had this wonderful testimonial of a beautiful woman in a beautiful white head scarf describing her hair and describing how her kids complimented her on it and her husband liked to touch it, all within the cultural boundaries,” he explains. “We did a hair-care commercial without ever showing hair.”

Ultimately, he encourages direct marketers to remember that global campaigns are most likely to succeed when brands create a partnership with their local customers. “You have to create a value exchange,” he says You have to make yourself a trusted and attractive place to share data.

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