Friday, June 25, 2004

Cannes, Women, & The Future

+ USA Today reports Global ads aim for one brand, image. The article touches on the concept that thinking globally and acting locally has become a trend for global advertisers. The article lists some examples of the worldwide advertisers and their methods for universal brand thinking:
Citibank. The U.S. financial services brand runs credit card, retail banking and consumer loan businesses worldwide. No matter the locale, "The business is the business, and we want to make sure we're not schizophrenic," says Anne MacDonald, head of global marketing. "We want our brand values consistent around the world." Citibank does so by using one model to develop credit cards, signs and even office interiors.

McDonald's. The fast-food giant last year created its first global ad campaign after finding young adults worldwide were rejecting McDonald's for the same reason — the brand was not contemporary to them — and decided to address the issue with one answer. "Strategically we said, 'Why would we do it 10 different ways? Let's do it in one voice,' " says Larry Light, global chief marketing officer at McDonald's. That voice now sings, "I'm lovin' it." Supporting the global theme are 25 new ads.

Pepsi. The youthful brand is recognized for its ad humor in the USA and has applied that to ads globally — with local cultural twists. An ad in India, for instance, tells of a boy who, when he drinks a Pepsi, can train elephants to do tricks. His career is shattered, however, when another boy pops open a Pepsi during a performance, and the elephants follow him."How consumers experience the personality of the brand should be tempered by the culture," says Dave Burwick, chief marketing officer, North America.

Procter & Gamble. In its drive to be a "high-performance marketing organization," P&G has pushed for broadcast TV and more focus on media that can be better tailored for local needs around the world, says Jim Stengel, global marketing officer. It is perfecting the concept of global brands with regional flair, he says. It sells about 50 of its brands in North and Latin America, Europe, Middle East and Africa. Stengel says P&G is "reinventing our approach to marketing." It is making media choices based on when and where it can best reach its customers, then creating ads to suit that media.

Reebok. The sports apparel and footwear brand has built a new global marketing campaign around the Olympics that includes print ads of such athletes as basketball player Yao Ming in ancient Greek garb and poses. Reebok also is creating sculptures of the athletes modeled on poses from the famous Parthenon Frieze. "We try very hard to make a program like this very relevant to cultures around the world," says Denise Kaigler, vice president, global communications.

Hewlett-Packard. Whether in England, Russia, Australia or the USA, H-P's message is that its technology helps businesses handle change. The ads are in a variety of media, but particularly outdoor. A recent poster outside London's National Gallery promoted H-P technology to restore just the right shade of yellow to a Van Gogh painting. Another ad will go up next week in Moscow's Red Square. Choosing such landmark locations "allows us to become part of the city," says Gary Elliott, vice president, brand marketing.

UPS. The overnight carrier uses just three ads that run in 20 countries for its global message that its service builds businesses. UPS does so because it has found "that the similarities among decision makers in our category, whether in China, India or Mexico, their needs, wants and fears are amazingly consistent," says Larry Bloomenkranz, vice president, global advertising and brand management. It varies the faces in the ads — one might have an Asian cast, another white — "so people can recognize themselves in the advertising," Bloomenkranz says.
All in all, it does seem to be effective. And a rather logical way to go (logic in advertising? Never!). Pushing one brand message throughout the world does reinforce a single image in the minds of consumers, no matter what language they speak or what cultural differences they have between them. Advertisers need to be wary though of just doing one big concept and translating the copy for different countries. In some cases it will work, in most it won't - especially in countries with vastly different cultures. Concepts and ideas that consumers "get" in Europe may not play well in Asia or Africa. Then again, there are universal concepts that as human beings we all "get". And maybe then that's the path that we are heading down for big international players.

+ Cannes reflects women's journey in marketing. "But female ad executives still earn 10% to 25% less than male counterparts, according to separate studies by Advertising Age and Working Mother magazines. Advertising's prestigious One Club in New York, which honors creativity in art direction and copy writing, has inducted no women into its Hall of Fame since its founding in 1984. When it comes to handing out the biggest awards in the business, women are trying to join the club there, too. Despite the goal of 30% female juries at Cannes this year, only 30 of 127 judges, or 24%, are women. There have been just two female jury presidents in the festival's 51-year history, in 1986 and 2001." That's just sad.

+ The future of advertising-the harder sell. "The advertising industry is passing through one of the most disorienting periods in its history. This is due to a combination of long-term changes, such as the growing diversity of media, and the arrival of new technologies, notably the internet. Consumers have become better informed than ever before, with the result that some of the traditional methods of advertising and marketing simply no longer work." Which is not true. Let's stop thinking this way. It's not that traditional methods don't work, but rather that they need to be looked at in a new way-figuring out how they meld with the newer methods. "As Rupert Howell, chairman of the London arm of McCann Erickson, insists, “the underlying principles haven't changed.” He points out, TV never killed radio, which in turn never killed newspapers. They did pose huge creative challenges, but that's OK, he maintains: “The advertising industry is relentlessly inventive; that's what we do.”" With each new media there's always the fear that the old media will vanish into thin air, never to be used again. And that's just a ridiculous way to think. We build onto the old with the new to create an even better integrated marketing plan. Or at least that's the idea. Creating concepts that spread into the various media start with the birth of a big idea so fantastic that it easily can be morphed into a radio spot, tv spot, internet ad/webpage, print, and any other media format you can think of. Which in a way is interesting as over the last few years more and more agencies have popped up to do more specific work. Internet only, broadcast only, DM only agencies then must work together with the traditional agencies to keep a true concept throughout all the work that is created. And the more chefs in the kitchen, the harder that is to do. So if this idea does catch on, I wonder if we will see a return to the integrated agencies- who can do it all. True, a lot of agencies have bought up the smaller specific-focused shops. But I wonder if we will see more of that as there is a return to a better ad climate. Hopefully it will mean a bigger need for creative generalists who know how to work and think in all media, rather than having specialists doing just one part of a larger campaign.

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