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Why Implementing Global Creative is Risky

We are pleased to share with you another guest post from C3Centricity partner PhaseOne, our communication experts. This week Terry Villines, their SVP speaks about the challenges of taking campaigns global.

Why implementing global creative is risky:  5 market factors must align. If just one of them is off, the entire initiative will likely fail!

Most major, global organizations have tried it – attempted to use the same creative around the world, across markets.   Coca-Cola has tried it, so has Procter & Gamble, Unilever and even luxury br ands like Rolex and Patek Phillipe.

The argument for implementing a creative campaign on a global scale is strong.  When it works, it saves money (a lot of money); it provides br and stewards with a high level of control; it also ensures consistent implementation of a br and strategy with no wavering.  And, when it works, it can work BIG – take for instance Unilever’s Dove br and and their Real Beauty campaign from a few years ago.  This global work beat the odds and changed the way people think of beauty and changed the way we as advertisers communicate about beauty.

But what about all those cases where it doesn’t work?  Why does a campaign with a strong launch in Italy not work in the UK?  What about those powerful US ads that when taken to Europe, Asia or South America fall flat?  In examining case after case it becomes clear that there has to be almost precise alignment across 5 different market factors for a campaign to be successful across markets – if even one of them is off, the campaign and its investment are lost.

#1. Your Br and’s Equity

Does your target audience think about your br and the same way across all markets — do they have the same associations?  Do the br and’s values and its personality resonate at the same levels across all markets?  If so, then you are one step closer to having confidence global creative will work.  But, if awareness is high and attitudes are strong in one market and they suffer in another, then there is a high level of certainty that the same advertising will not work in both markets.

 

 #2. Your Br and Market Share / Market Position

Do you have consistent market share in each and every market in which you compete?  If you do, you are one of a very rare breed; however, it is much more likely that your market position varies.  Whether you’re a strong leader with few challengers working to grow the category and hold market share, or a challenger against stronger br ands trying to steal market share, it is almost impossible for the same kind of creative and messaging to work across all of these situations.

 

 #3. Competitive Actions

In examining the competitive environment, a number of variables must be considered.  How many competitors are there? – very crowded categories require different actions than less crowded categories.  What is the level of spend by competitors? – some competitors are more dedicated to certain markets, investing greatly in them.  Are they buying market share?  Are you prepared to compete?  What are your competitors claiming? – we often see that the claims competitors make vary by market.  Just because your message is perceived to be different in one market doesn’t mean it will be perceived as distinctive on a global scale.

 

#4. Category Penetration / Maturity

One of the biggest mistakes we see marketers make today is to assume that advertising they create for well established br ands within very mature markets will work in the markets where the category as a whole is just emerging – those markets from which future growth will come.  What they are forgetting is that the audience’s familiarity with the category dictates how much you have to explain, versus what you can assume they will readily know.

 

 #5. Target Audience / Cultural

We as human beings are complex.  Yes, there are some core things that tie us together – we all have needs that we strive to satisfy.  But even then, what our needs are and how they are expressed vary – much of that driven by culture.  More times than not, global campaigns fail by not taking into consideration the cultural differences between the markets.  This is particularly true when humor is involved.  What one culture views as funny could be offensive to another. Culture can also impact how our target audiences approach the category, for example for cleaning products – what “clean” means varies across cultures.  We see great variance for games and toys – are they for independent enjoyment or do they bring people together?  There are very few categories in which we have worked where the target audience’s approach to the category (why they turn to that category) is universal.

If you hope to behave the same across all markets, but there is not alignment across all 5 of these factors, then there is a very high probability of failure.  BUT, it doesn’t mean that you have to avoid a global campaign at all cost.  Making up for market difference through other behaviors (Sampling, Public Relations, Below-the-Line efforts) can overcome an imbalance.

What top-of-mind global campaigns can you think of?  Were they truly global (same creative around the world) or where they driven by a global strategy with local implementation?  With the complex differences we have around the world, do you think a global creative campaign is possible?

If you would like help in taking locally successful campaigns global, then please contact us for an informal chat. For more information about how to better connect with your customers, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

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