Software developer Symantec Corp. knows the problem. When it sent a U.S. ad for its ACT! contact management software to Sydney last spring, local marketers put the kibosh on its copy.
"Here in the U.S., ACT! has huge market share, so one of the messages we put out is that it's the best-selling contact manager," said Chris Benham, Symantec's director of advertsing. "When our marketing partners in Australia received the ad, they couldn't use it because it's not true in Australia-ACT! doesn't have market share leadership."
But the Sydney office "had the flexibility and the freedom to create its own advertisement, which addressed the issue but kept it in our look and feel," Mr. Benham said of Symantec's fonts, reversed headline and yellow border.
Symantec is tackling the globe with a strategy that creates structure for all marketing communications, which the overseas marketing personnel can tweak for local needs. Its software categories are utilities, contact management (sales force automation), development tools, network management and desktop communications.
Symantec is the world's leading vendor of utilities and contact management software, with a 73.8% market share among low-end sales force automation software products in 1994, according to research company International Data Corp., Framingham, Mass.
The company has acquired more than 14 software companies since late 1989. In November it completed the acquisition of Toronto's Delrina Corp. The deal gave Symantec a $40.2 million net income for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1995, leaping from $353,000 in fiscal 1994.
The desire to create synergistic product marketing and advertising for its five lines worldwide is crucial to Symantec's communications strategy, in light of its emphasis on product rather than corporate advertising. Symantec has offices throughout Europe and Asia-Pacific.
Symantec's corporate marketing department and international marketing satellites "have the challenge of delivering cohesive marketing across all the different business units," said Stephen DeWitt, VP-marketing.
Domestically and globally, he added, "We try to create linkage in our advertising strategy and commonality in tone and in look and feel. We want to cross-market our products, and we definitely want to create linkage, but we don't want to lose our individual products' identity."
Symantec relies almost exclusively on print advertising and last year began to buy more space in general business and computer-enthusiast publications.
Goldberg Moser O'Neill, San Francisco, Symantec's U.S. agency of record, has driven the development of a worldwide look. "There is a fixed set of common elements in all the advertising throughout the world," explained Jeff Thomas, Goldberg's management supervisor.
But regions may modify ads to meet local market needs. Symantec's U.K. ads include a reply coupon that the U.S. ads do not, and messages worldwide are fine-tuned to address local technical sophistication.
"In different markets we advertise different strengths" with ACT! ads, said Steve Singh, general manager of Symantec's Contact Management Division.
"Depending on the market, we'll go with what we think is going to work in that market," he added.
In Japan, where Symantec introduced ACT! last fall, the primary communications challenge has been educating the market about the product; the contact management software category is virtually unknown in Japan.
Ads in Japan will gradually address specific benefits. "We're going to need to follow up with a lot of direct response advertising in which we pitch the same benefits the press is writing about today," Mr. Singh said.
Fox Parrack Fox, London, handles Symantec's European advertising and works with Goldberg to ensure consistency.