A false sense of global security

Developing a global strategy for a brand has several advantages, and economies of scale is one of them. But those tempted to go global for cost reasons alone are taking a big risk. John Shannon is president of Grey International

The recent appointment of Lowe Howard-Spink to create a global identity for Baileys Irish Cream reflects the continuing determination of advertisers to capitalise on opportunities for developing their brands internationally.

The Lowe agency group has already demonstrated a global brand strategy with the international work it has done for IDV’s Smirnoff brand. So too have the other multinational agency groups which have concentrated on combining local market intelligence with an understanding of global brands.

Yet some commentators are again suggesting such programmes and realignments are driven more by the need to save money than by a determination to build powerful brands.

It is true that advertisers who adopt a multi-country advertising approach can sometimes enjoy economies of scale. They are able to save a considerable amount of management time by no longer dealing with agencies on a country-by-country basis. In addition, centralised creative origination and production can lead to some savings in the cost of making films and the simplification of development procedures.

Having said that, the co-ordination of multi-country ad cam- paigns is a highly complex process and agencies must be thorough and pay attention to detail. It involves them in more travelling to more meetings in more countries.

At the same time, campaign planning, research, and creative input must be drawn from many countries to ensure relevant and effective execution. Beyond this, all campaign details have to be checked to meet local legislative, social, cultural and linguistic requirements.

The shift towards global realignments is not driven simply by cost-cutting. On the contrary, it has developed out of a determination by an increasing number of advertisers to achieve added value through a higher level of trans-national creative effectiveness.

Beyond this, they aim to achieve precisely controlled consumer targeting and feedback learning that can help refine and develop centrally directed strategic planning.

Experience shows that these are the overriding factors that determine advertiser decisions.

Those tempted to make cost-cut-ting their primary objective risk undermining their agency’s ability to operate at its full potential and, by restricting use of its full resources, may find their short-term financial saving proves a false economy.

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