Ten years ago, the marketing world was debating the reality of globalization.
Was it a "corporate ego trip" or the result of new communication technology producing a global village?
The highly charged controversy inspired Advertising Age to start a special section, World Brands, to show how many clients agencies were serving in multiple markets and to identify those countries.
We all know which side of the debate the marketing world eventually came down on. If there's any doubt, take a look at this year's World Brands charts that start on Page I-14. Compare the data there with numbers from our issue ten years ago.
The number of agencies handling global business hasn't changed much-23 ten years ago vs. 24 now-but what has increased dramatically is the number of countries where global accounts are now handled by a single network. McCann-Erickson, for example, today lists more than 90 countries, compared to about one-third that number ten years ago.
(Ilse Cermak, who has been involved in producing the section since its inception, went into a panic when she discovered that some of this year's charts might no longer fit on a single page. Fortunately, some miracles of technology solved the problem.)
Brands have become so important that not much time goes by without the appearance of some new research, on everything from brand name value, how brands are perceived, recognized, extended, protected, massaged, etc., etc. In this issue, we look at the latest research, this from Young & Rubicam. The agency ranks brands according to two significant factors, consumer perceptions of what Y&R calls their "stature", or current status, and their "vitality", or growth potential. These rankings, provided to AAI exclusively, offer some interesting insights.
Some traditional package goods names that have always topped lists of best-known and valued global brands are being taken on by challengers in some unexpected fields.
Entertainment and leisure industry leaders, such as MTV, Disney, Reebok, are becoming as familiar around the world as Kodak and Colgate.
The past decade has meant a lot of other changes, too. In this issue of AAI, stories touch on countries and topics not given much thought in marketing circles ten years ago.
One is Sheila Tefft's examination of the Chinese government's predicament about how much it should encourage ad rates to climb in order to keep economic growth under control. Another is Susan Hack's report on how South Africa's media and advertising world is operating in the post-apartheid era.
This all leads me to wonder what new frontiers marketers will have conquered ten years hence. It's especially intriguing to think about the impact of an advertising account reassignment after the current decade of consolidation. If the trend to move accounts en masse continues, a realignment of a huge account in scores of countries at once can only mean rearrangement of business activities of cataclysmic proportions.
But along the way, marketers will need to take other circumstances into consideration, and one of the first priorities must be to learn the code of global good citizenship as they introduce products in markets where taste and conduct differ drastically from home.