FORUM: THE IDEA'S THE THING FOR GOOD GLOBAL ADS: CONCEPTS MUST TAKE INTO ACCOUNT CULTURE OF BRAND AND THE MARKET BEING TARGETED

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We have come a long way since the days of the centrally pro-duced, locally

translated, one-ad-fits-all approach to global advertising. Brand ideas that can literally come from anywhere and travel anywhere have a new power-primarily because many so-called developing markets around the world have become as sophisticated and complex as the countries that used to send them advertising.

Among other things, the industry has learned that not all brands or product categories lend themselves to global communication.

Take beer, for example. Even though beers are consumed in most of the world on similar occasions, for similar reasons, by similar consumers, no single beer brand has yet managed to establish itself as the leading global beer. Beer is still different, culture to culture.

The industry has learned that relevance to consumers must be the first and foremost criterion in determining whether a brand should act as a local brand, a regional brand or a global brand.

Advertisers have become more sophisticated and no longer adopt the global stance for the wrong reasons: control, economies of scale, etc.

Provided consumer relevance can be achieved, the motivation for global behavior should be the dissemination of a consistent and cohesive idea about a brand. Brands, after all, are supposed to simplify the lives of consumers. A brand that speaks with one, relevant voice should make the buying-decision process even simpler.

We have learned that the most successful global approaches seem to have three qualities in common:

They recognize the culture of the category.

They reflect the culture of the brand.

They respect the cultures they are trying to reach.

But perhaps one of the most important lessons of the last decade or so-especially when it comes to advertising agencies-is the realization that global means intimacy with many cultures, not mere presence in many countries.

What we are now seeing is the emergence of a new type of globalism where the idea rules and ideas can come from anywhere. If an idea touches consumers, perhaps it also travels well. If it travels well, why confine it to one place?

Sometimes, it is a matter of recognizing a great idea and leveraging its power. The Taster's Choice soap opera campaign was born in the U.K., traveled to the U.S. and other parts-and inspired Nescafe campaigns around the world. The animated Reach toothbrushes campaign, with the now-famous flip-top head, was born in Australia and found its way to many world markets, including Japan and the U.S.

Most of the time, it is a deliberate brand management decision, made possible by the excellence of the central idea. Tiffany's campaign, built around the specialness of the brand and the power of the blue box, has traveled extensively and very successfully. While the ad in Tokyo will be different from the one in Sydney, at times, the brand lives in a world all its own, which consumers recognize and aspire to.

The work ethic of UPS has now found its way around the world by making a virtue out of the company's predictability. "As sure as taking it there yourself," the international campaign asserts.

The days of bland advertising arriving from headquarters in a brown paper envelope are clearly over. Instead, the most successful global advertisers have gravitated to sources of excellence-wherever they may be-for ideas that work.

We are now seeing award-winning, compelling global ads coming out of London, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo, Singapore, Sao Paulo, Oslo, Stockholm-not to mention San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis and so many other centers of creativity the world over.

What that means is that the age-old debate about conventional global advertising is now irrelevant. It is the idea that counts; it doesn't matter where it comes from. And, if it travels well, just keep an open mind.

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