It's time to go glocal!

A great piece of advertising is one that has a universal idea at its core, with a tinge of local flavours, reveal creative honchos

e4m by Twishy
Published: May 8, 2013 8:32 PM  | 7 min read
It's time to go glocal!

Feeding babies, bandaging wounded knees, supporting at swim meets and motivating at running tracks, this is the power of motherhood beautifully crafted by the proud sponsor of moms, P&G, in the ‘Thank You, Mom’ campaign that was built on the universal idea that transcended boundaries and made every mom proud of her achievements and care. Urging men to advance in life, Johnnie Walker’s ‘Keep Walking’ campaign inspired men to progress regardless of the culture or country. As Roger Haupt rightly remarked, “This is a global business. You’ve got to be good everywhere”. With increasing competition, every brand should embrace global ideas that resonate in every market. However, it is extremely difficult to create timely relevant global concepts that actually work in every market. There are some ideas that get lost in translation which can be damaging to the brand. It is also hard to confine to local concepts because the brand survives on a global insight. So the big question is: How to create a campaign that is both global and local? The key answer to this question is to go ‘glocal’, which means locally adapting a universally accepted idea.

Coca-Cola has embraced the glocal model through the ‘Open Happiness’ campaign. Everybody has a quest for true happiness and Coke’s ‘Open Happiness’ tells consumers that they are in the business of spreading smiles and opening happiness every day all across the world. From a vending machine dispensing Coke to trucks spreading the message, the brand continues to open happiness across the world. Celebrating the values of optimism and kindness, Coca-Cola rolled out its latest TV commercial that builds on the theme of the 2012 campaign, ‘Believe in a happier tomorrow,’ featuring real-life characters that encourage individuals to engage in acts of genuine goodness to shape a happier and more harmonious world. Encouraging local decision-making supported by a unified brand identity, Coke has executed the glocal strategy very well.

Tista Sen, National Creative Director, JWT said, “All great ideas transcend barriers, borders, boundaries because great ideas appeals to the head and heart and transcends beyond language, belief, customs and habits. ‘Glocal’ is the new global and it works.”

“Anything great, I have seen over time, is always simple (though not simplistic), and relevant across years. So once, you have a great idea, you don’t have to work hard at making it relevant or topical. It will inevitably be appropriate for years to come,” she added.

A great idea balanced with proper execution and communicated in an integrated way across a range of media can be a source of great power to the brand.

Titus Upputuru, National Creative Director, Dentsu Marcom said, “Great advertising in my opinion is one that produces results. You could do an exquisite piece and if it does not garner any response from the world it is meant for, what is the point? So, if as a marketer my objective is to increase my market share from 26 per cent to 40 per cent in one year, then the work produced should contribute in making that happen. If that is the task, then the piece of communication should work in the market it is meant to produce results.”

“But if my task is to produce work that must work across the globe, then I should pick up an insight that is universal. Largely, we are all the same. We all have same issues. Friendship, marriage, business challenges, dealing with ageing is more same than different. So, if we cut the jargon and stick to basics, it’s not that difficult. The P&G ‘Thank you mom’ is a great example of this,” he added.

Apple’s universal idea of ‘Think Different’ saved the bleeding brand and the concept of putting the black and white photographs of time-honored visionaries with the powerful words actually made everyone think differently about the brand. However, some of the globally relevant campaigns lose traction while getting local.

“If we merely try to adapt global work for Indian markets by means of changing actors or getting the same concept re-shot, the success of such work may entirely depend on the strength of the concept itself. If the basic insight does not cut across human world, there is really no hope for it. You might get local talent to direct or produce it, you might get great translations done, tick all the boxes, but you might just be wasting millions of dollars by trying to find a shortcut. Ultimately, it depends on the power of the idea. If it is simple and powerful insight into human behaviour, you can get great success across the world with the same copy,” Upputuru said.

Experts believe that the local tailors have to craft the universal idea in a way that appeals the local audience without losing the core global idea.

Sen pointed, “There was this one time, years ago, when a detergent ad nosedived in the Middle East, because they read right to left and in the ad, while the line read right to left, the images were not flipped, thus signifying clothes like this (clean shirt image on right) will now look like this (dirty shirt image on left)! Apart from technicalities like this, advertising travels quite easily across the globe much like films or music or any other form of art. The Samsonite Heaven and Hell Ad cut through to travellers right across the world, the Levers Dirt is good detergent campaign relevant worldwide and so is the Coke Open Happiness campaign. If it’s insightful, human and a life truism, it works. Eventually, we are the same people and love, regret, parenting, rejection, self esteem and attraction are life lessons than can never be lost in translation.”

It is also believed that if the campaign is cultural neutral, the brand shouldn’t mind testing it out but if the casting is such that it may not be fitting into the culture, then clearly one needs to have a local adaptation like in the food category with KFC or McDonald’s.

Ajay Gahlaut, Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy & Mather shared that global campaigns to be run across countries saves a lot of time, energy and money. They are based on universal human sentiments but it is not always possible to create a global campaign relevant in every country. 

“People differ from place to place and what makes a campaign successful is the local flavour,” he said. India is a country with diversity in people and languages and sometimes to run one copy across the country is also difficult. “We need to do it in different languages and with different celebrities,” he added. According to him, even for Coke’s Happiness factor, happiness for people in every country is different. “We look at relationships differently from people in the west,” he stated.

Continuing the ‘Toofani’ story with Salman Khan, Thumps Up unveiled a new campaign that urges its consumers to live the thunder and push the boundaries to pave their own path. To add the local flavour, action star and southern superstar Mahesh Babu features in the southern version of the campaign. This is a perfect example of ideas going regional with locally relevant concepts.

It makes us believe that a brand should create communication that has core universal idea with a tinge of local flavours, making it relevant worldwide.

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