One inescapable fact has emerged from Cannes in recent years. More and more, the product and the image are one and the same. It is no longer a question of image advertising or product advertising.
This trend will only increase in the years to come. The world is racing toward the "global village" concept on greased, fiber-optic rails. Advanced communications networks are taking root at blinding speed. Information is easy to access.
Culturally, we are becoming one through movies, TV and music. More than any time in history, the potential for marketers to establish worldwide awareness is within reach.
So it's no surprise Cannes judges and audiences are seeing more campaigns that work as well in Bangkok as they do in Baltimore.
With this vast opportunity, the challenges for the ad industry are straightforward. As the world gets smaller, ideas must get more focused. They must speak to a broad audience within a narrow strategy.
In order for our clients to grow their business globally, the concepts, strategies and messages we create for them must resonate across multiple borders-geographical and cultural. This is easier said than done. Those that are succeeding are doing some very smart, basic things that we can learn from.
Certain categories of products lend themselves more easily to strong global executions than others. Most of the global campaigns have been for lifestyle products, such as soft drinks, jeans, sneakers and candy. It's no accident these categories often target the youth market. This target heavily values the basics of imagery over more fact-filled approaches.
Nike, Pepsi and Jeep speak to the world. Jeep has created a brand image of ruggedness and reliability. Pepsi is the taste of the world's youth. Asian, African, European and American children are wont to "just do it." These award-winning global campaigns share global traits. The executions are memorable. They are unexpected. But what makes them so well suited to a global audience?
Now more than ever before the campaigns that work best on the global stage are those where product and imagery are inextricably one and the same. Their powerful brand imagery strikes universal chords.
TELL THE STORY WITH PICTURES
Can advertising for categories other than lifestyle succeed on a world stage? Without question. Innovative product demonstrations, where the pictures tell the story, are the bread and butter of effective global advertising.
Advertising that succeeds globally yields four constant ingredients: Simplicity. Clarity. Humor. And a clever demonstration that reinforces a brand's selling message.
It sounds like a fairly simple recipe, but the truth is it's easier to miss than get right.
Even with the rise of a shrinking global village, many cultural identities remain stubborn. Advertisers who don't tread carefully through cultural sensitivities quickly find themselves strolling through a minefield.
In some countries, for instance, frontal nudity in advertising raises few eyebrows. In others, just mentioning a competitor by name is tasteless and offensive. Another example: When the former Eastern Bloc opened up earlier in the decade, many Hungarian consumers openly resented imported advertising they felt was targeted to German homemakers.
In short, without due diligence, strategies and executions meant to bridge cultural divides may end up widening the chasm. Global advertising is at a pivotal stage of development. On its own power, the industry is trying to coin a unified intellectual currency. It's a tough task. But the future belongs to us. After all, creating selling power with imagery is what this business is all about. It's what we do best.
Mr. Schulberg is vice chairman-chief creative officer, Bozell Worldwide, New York.