Great Marketing is Global and Local

In a recent post at the Harvard Business Review blog , Jerry Wind, Stan Sthanunathan, and Rob Malcolm argued that great advertising is both local and global. The authors contend that global enterprises have traditionally faced an unattractive trade-off when it comes to advertising. As they put it, “Global brand advertising can rarely reflect the idiosyncratic characteristics of every market, but the alternative – locally designed advertising – often sacrifices a consistent global message and misses out on economies of scale.”

To avoid this trade-off, the blog authors say that enterprises should pursue a glocal advertising strategy, which they define as, “locally adapting a universally embraced core idea that will resonate in any market anywhere in the world.” As an example of effective glocal advertising, the authors described a 13-year advertising campaign used by Johnnie Walker to reinvigorate its Scotch whiskey brand.

The Johnnie Walker campaign was based on the recognition that men around the world, regardless of culture or nationality, want to advance their lives. The creative expression of this theme was “Keep Walking.” This universal theme was localized through the use of inspirational quotes from multiple cultures. For example, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” by Lao Tsu was used in Asia. Over the life of the campaign, more than 100 “local” quotes were used.

The blog authors contend that an effective glocal advertising strategy has three core components:

  • A global concept that embraces a universal human emotion
  • A global brand vision combined with localized creative delivery
  • An organizational architecture (including corporate culture, technology platform, and necessary resources) that facilitates effective collaboration between global and local marketers

In my view, the points made by Wind, Sthanunathan, and Malcolm about advertising apply equally to virtually all aspects of global marketing. Today, multinational enterprises must pursue both global brand consistency and effective localization simultaneously across all marketing tactics and channels.

Coordinating global and local marketing activities is especially important because the Internet largely erases geographical boundaries, making many consumers both global and local. For example, consumers in Japan or India increasingly expect marketing messages and materials that are culturally relevant and appropriate, but those same consumers can also easily access marketing content that is primarily intended for consumers in the US.

I also agree with the blog authors that both organizational culture and technology play critical roles in effective glocal marketing. Enterprises must nurture a close collaboration between marketers in the central marketing department and those in regional or national marketing offices around the world. Enterprises must also deploy the technology systems and tools that will enable geographically dispersed marketers to collaborate easily and efficiently. Without the right technology tools, timely and effective collaboration is all but impossible to achieve.

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Author:Jan Dejosse

CMO - ADAM Software

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