The question I often ask myself is, “do global brand campaigns really work?” Yes, we live in a truly global world now. The digital revolution has driven this but with my experience and, in my humble opinion, campaigns need to be localised to meet the cultural requirements of different regions. Why is this so important? Campaigns must make an impact, catch the current and future customers’ attention and most importantly, need to be embraced by local teams.
I have been very lucky to travel through Europe, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and South America and work across Europe, Middle East, Africa, CIS, Russia and India during my life. I am originally from London and have lived in Paris and am now based in Zurich but one thing that is certain, is that every single country offers an individual culture that recognises its past and embraces its future.
My passion is in understanding these cultures. What makes the locals tick, what is important to them, how they communicate and express themselves through conversation, culture, art, music and books. How can a brand connect in the best possible way. Herewith my 5 key learnings:
- American English/British English
I have worked on a number of campaigns that have originated in the US. As a native English speaker, the complexities of the English language need to be adjusted according to where the campaign will land. We all understand the language but the variance of particular words must be carefully reviewed, whilst always taking into consideration American spelling vs British spelling. Local native English speaking teams across the world, need to feel that they have been considered through the use of the English language in a campaign.
2. Keeping the regional teams in the loop right from the planning stages is essential.
Will the campaign be a cultural fit? Are there any political or economical crises happening in the countries where the campaign will be launched? Learning from experience, a campaign I worked on had the main headline “Its good not to be home”. At that time, Europe was in the middle of the immigration crises and this message certainly did not fit well in Europe, let alone within the more traditional cultures of the Middle East, India and my colleagues’ region in China. Fortunately, we just had time to change it to “Make the most of being away”, highlighting the message of how it can be fun when travelling for business.
Transcreation into further languages adds further complications. English headlines can be short and direct. Transcreating them into Latin, Cyrillic or Arabic languages often brings much longer sentences. Check the transcreation with native speakers well in advance, to ensure the messaging sounds like it has been created in each mother-tongue. In addition, creative assets often only have space for short, punchy statements. Think about where these creative assets will be used and how the messaging space needs to be adjusted.
If you are using models in your campaign, take into consideration, where they come from, how they are dressed and is the look suitable for the brand that is being promoted. Keep in mind, the religion and culture of where the campaign will run. Scantily clad models are a big no-no in the Middle East, whilst showing the sole of a models’ foot in campaigns in Asia is seen as downright disrespectful. Ensuring your local teams have time to give feedback and additional thoughts is essential.
Planning, planning, planning. A campaign will often launch in the main market and then the regional teams are requested to expedite it as quickly as possible after the original launch phase. Research in advance of the main launch, when are the best months for a campaign to launch around the world. Different countries and regions, will have multiple festivals/holidays when brands are competing against each other and media costs are much higher. What kind of campaign will make the most impact, according to the country? Print media, Out of Home, digital, social or all of them? How can your local teams bring the campaign to life through the customer experience? In hotels, retail outlets and the service industries there are so many opportunities to share the same message through events, unexpected gestures and genuine connections which your client facing colleagues can really embrace. They must however, be given adequate notice of when the campaign will launch so that they can plan accordingly, without having additional stress to their day-to-day roles.
In my experience, keeping the above in mind, will encourage international teams to work closer together whilst ensuring that the campaign provides the best local fit.
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