Agency shapes b-to-b messages for international markets

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In between trips to Norway and Florida, Marcio Moreira discussed McCann-Erickson's approach to globalizing creative.

Mr. Moreira, vice chairman-chief creative officer of McCann-Erickson Worldwide, helps oversee creative execution in the 121 countries with the agency's offices.

In its work for Coca-Cola Co., McCann has earned its stripes in globalizing brands. It is now applying those lessons to its business-to-business accounts, such as UPS International, Gateway and Agilent Technologies.

"Most of us [McCann executives] have worked on two or three continents," Mr. Moreira said. "It's part of the McCann culture. It's in the blood."

This globe-trotting has taught Mr. Moreira that converting ads for different cultures takes more than translation. "We never ever ever use the word 'translate,' " he said. "We 'interpret' creative into other cultures and other languages."

McCann has learned many techniques to simplify interpreting creative across borders. The agency's recent Agilent launch is an example of using production techniques to make ads easily globalized.

First, the commercials feature people of all races, unidentifiable as being from a particular country. Second, the ads rely exclusively on voice-over, so no lip-synching is necessary in different languages.

But the art of making ads that sell across borders demands more than production sleight of hand. Mr. Moreira said McCann's approach to converting the messages of Gateway and UPS around the world shows that cookie-cutter methods are ill-advised.

For UPS International, the company's brand remains identical across borders, because the message is reliability and consistency no matter where the package is picked up or where it is shipped. So McCann's ads for UPS around the world have emphasized the company's brown vehicles, even if in some of the ads those brown vehicles are boats (in Venice) or motorcycles (in Bangkok, Thailand).

"UPS serves itself better by being itself rather than being French in France or German in Germany," Mr. Moreira said.

In other cases, he said, it's logical to alter executions from culture to culture.

While Gateway has the same brand message in every country--customizable, top quality personal computers--how that brand message is executed varies from country to country because each nation has a different market reality. In some countries, PCs are newcomers; in others, they face competition from handheld devices.

To ensure that McCann understands market conditions all over the world, the agency wants employees who are immersed in the culture where they work, ideally from birth. "McCann's preferred way of working is as soon as possible, country by country, putting the leadership in the hands of the locals," Mr. Moreira said.

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