What Wins Effies? Simple Ideas

Universal Appeal: The Best Work Maintains Core Concepts While Morphing to Fit Cultural Nuances

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This year some of the best and the brightest marketers and agency heads again met in New York to judge the Global Effie submissions. They judged the best of the best, culled down from regional judging events in Asia Pacific, Europe, and North and South America.
This year's Global Effie winners -- campaigns for Canon and Kraft's Philadelphia Cream Cheese -- both featured simple ideas that effectively appealed to consumers in many different cultures.
This year's Global Effie winners -- campaigns for Canon and Kraft's Philadelphia Cream Cheese -- both featured simple ideas that effectively appealed to consumers in many different cultures.
The submissions represented the work of the top marketers and agencies in the world. To be eligible to enter the Global Effies, a campaign must have run in four or more countries and two or more regions of the world. To make it past the first round of judging, a campaign must have demonstrated superior multinational performance -- including sales, share and awareness -- against clearly defined and documented goals. The winners, however, boasted a special distinction: a big idea that was both wonderfully simple and dramatically effective.

Few worldwide campaigns
In each of the last four years since the inception of the Global Effies, we've asked the judges to share their observations on the submissions they've reviewed; there has been tremendous consistency in the feedback. First, many campaign entries qualify as a strong multinational marketing effort -- but few deserve, or even qualify for, the designation of "global." And very few of the submissions include a powerful core idea that achieves true brand differentiation and sustained, multimarket success.

Surprisingly, some global marketers still merely employ relatively literal translation or awkward dubbing, rather than maintain the integrity of the core idea while modifying the executions to fit country and cultural nuances. In some cases, the drive for global consistency seemed to lead to choosing the lowest common denominator vs. the one that would have the highest local relevance. Seeing the same execution minimally modified from region to region -- merely substituting an Asian face for an Anglo face, for example -- created an almost comical parody on what a global campaign should never degenerate to.

But what about those campaigns that did it right -- that achieved dramatic impact and sales success? When we asked judges over the last four years to define "great" global campaigns, they offered these observations: "A big idea, a clear focus and breakthrough communication that builds off of real consumer insights." "An idea large and iconic enough to travel broadly yet still touch local consumers emotionally." "A big, broad, flexible and holistic idea that leaves room for local differences and cultures." "Creative quality, consumer insights, a unique single-minded idea based on a global human truth."

Underlying insights
All of the comments boil down to two major points: Good global campaigns meet the surface requirements of a global campaign (consistent key visuals and style, common taglines), but great global campaigns have an underlying concept that transcends language and can be executed in a wide variety of media and vehicles without appearing to be manipulated to fit the media or to achieve market relevance.
This year's Global Effie judges offered a similar perspective. "The most powerful global campaigns are those founded on core human values that are communicated in an emotionally powerful and intellectually relevant way," said David May, VP-director of global marketing, Goldman Sachs. "The campaigns that stuck out in my mind had fundamental human appeal that's also true to the product."

Lynne Boles, VP-global advertising, Procter & Gamble, added: "In my experience, the greatest global advertising campaigns are those that revolve around one simple idea. This idea is inspired by deep consumer understanding, and it focuses on an insight that resonates across media platforms and across geographies."

Tough sell
Indeed, the contenders that rose to the top invariably had a simple idea that had universal appeal. Making a global idea simple -- as evident in Apple iPod's "Silhouettes" campaign, Mastercard's "Priceless" campaign and McDonald's "I'm Lovin' It" campaign -- is a complex job, but the payoff is dramatic.

When asked, "Is a great global campaign always driven by broadcast or other traditional media?" the judges' collective answer was a resounding "no." "Some of the best global work we saw extended far beyond broadcast," said Robert Painter, VP-marketing, IBM Global Business Services.

Larry Bloomenkranz, VP-global brand management and advertising, UPS, and Bill Ogle, chief marketing officer, Pizza Hut, both stressed the importance of personal connection in successful global campaigns.

This year's recipients
The 2007 Global Effie winners are the Canon EOS 350D Digital SLR Camera's "It's Playtime" campaign (Cayenne Communications BV, Amsterdam) and Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese's "Philadelphia -- a Little Taste of Heaven" campaign (JWT, London). Both campaigns demonstrated the ability to go beyond good -- and achieve the big idea and effectiveness that makes a campaign great.
As we salute the winners for their outstanding performance, we also need to raise the question as to why so few global campaigns achieve greatness. One answer is, of course, that it's hard enough to achieve greatness in one country, let alone in multiple regions. Global campaigns have to jump hurdles that the vast majority of domestic campaigns couldn't reach. The campaigns that make it, that achieve iconic status that transcends cultural barriers and lexicon -- they have a language of their own. They speak through a style that they own, through an image that sets them apart, and with emotion that creates a one-to-one connection.

From a Global Effie judging perspective, many campaigns fall short because they can't objectively prove performance against validated goals. In some cases, outstanding performance is short-lived or sporadic across regions. The rigors of the Effie process highlight how few truly global campaigns there really are.
Hats off to the global campaigns that achieved, as the Italians call it, "sprezzatura": in the case of the Global Effies, a simple idea that achieves natural affinity with every country it enters and every consumer it touches.
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