Throughout history, speaking to popular social, political and cultural conversations in any given moment has been a pre-requisite for good communications. Just as the marketing of children’s toys in pre-war colonial Britain spoke to fears of social degeneration, the campaigns of today, whether about body positivity or climate change, reflect society’s leading values and concerns.
But with the rise of global masterbrands and the onus of communications increasingly shifting to central marketing teams, the gap between global brand and local consumers is growing. So, what do brands need to consider in order to strike the balance between global scale and local impact?
- Don’t ignore the local in global
A global campaign, by definition, is made up of smaller local campaigns. When agreeing on central objectives, keep in mind local market landscapes and capabilities and agree KPIs accordingly. To successfully deliver impact locally, you need to truly understand the media, digital, political, social and cultural circumstances in which they operate.
- Identify human truths and values
At MullenLowe salt, we believe that effective global campaigns begin by identifying insights that resonate with people broadly not just marketeers. We work with global brands including Unilever’s Axe to evolve their positioning in line with an ever changing consumer landscape. In Axe’s case, this began by confronting the outdated and restrictive version of masculinity in which they were operating. With the provocation ‘Is it okay for guys?’, Axe re-directed toxic conversations and gave men a sense of ownership over their identity. To ensure the campaign landed locally, we worked with global and local NGO partners and agencies to launch ‘The Man Box’ research in its key markets: UK, USA and Mexico. By getting under the skin of male consumers to understand the labels and limits holding them back, Axe was able to acquire a language that truly resonates with men in multiple markets.
- Ensure a consistent brand tone of voice
Once a global communications platform is established, create a tone of voice, and visual look and feel guidelines to ensure markets are singing from the same hymn sheet. When speaking about a given topic, in Axe’s case ‘toxic masculinity’, it is essential all local market iterations hinge to a central point of view. To do this, ensure all global and local spokespeople are briefed and armed with core messaging and guidelines. Consistent communications across markets will maximise impact and positively halo onto core masterbrand communications.
- Ensure your platform has a flexible waistband
Every market has a unique set of political, social and economic circumstances which shape their interactions with brands. Whilst, Axe identified a broad insight: men feeling restricted by toxic labels of masculinity, the content and context of these expectations differed in each market. In the US, for example, within the context of Trump’s presidency there were interesting conversations about masculinity specific only to the US. In order to ensure your global platform resonates with local consumers, brand communications must flex and tap into these conversations on the ground.
- Activate via local voices and moments
No one exists at a global level and therefore a campaign should never feel truly global. Working with local partners and voices transitions a lofty campaign idea that ‘says’ a lot, to an approach that ‘does’ even more on the ground. To ensure your plan is implemented with impact, build a local market roadmap identifying key spokespeople, influencers and partners as well as cultural moments to act as campaign hooks.
In summary, building a global campaign with local impact requires a deep understanding and empathy for the consumer, and the ever changing world in which they operate. At MullenLowe salt, we believe this is fundamental to building communications that resonate and drive positive change on the ground.