Do we need to rethink how Global advertising accounts work?
In the last year we've seen a lot of things happen that we wouldn't have guessed at 18 months ago. Brexit, Trump and the rise of the 'Alt-Right' and the more recent No vote in Italy are just three of those things and they point to a growth in discontent with the status quo.
At the same time there's been plenty of movement in adland. Global pitches create lots of pressure on ad agencies and marketing teams to pull together proposals that involve team members from across the network. Of course we recognise that these strategies are the melding of ideas from various offices in different regions and lots of research and hard work goes into them. But even at that, it is nearly impossible to land on a campaign that is indeed globally reflective and brings the values and potential of every market together.
And while agencies are busy working on global campaigns , the growth of populist politics and the supporter of same, makes me wonder, do consumers really want to hear a global message at the moment and has this trend for large global campaigns played a part in recent political outcomes?
Do global campaigns make people feel less connected to a brand? If a person's view of the world and what's going on in it don't match the worthy proposition, does it impinge on their view of the brand and the world, and does it play a role in making that person feel more disenfranchised in general?
Having a networked global agency makes sense for many reasons, not least of which is cost. But the potential to achieve an aspiration of someone here in Dublin is totally different to the potential of someone in Calcutta to achieve theirs. And this makes we wonder should we really be trying to shoehorn the same message into both markets, or should we be leaning towards strategies that work for smaller groups of markets or indeed individual markets?
It is great having a global line that you can point to and say 'that's us' but my point is should we revisit how global brands work with their agency partners? 'Localising' campaigns means we're taking the same assets as lots of other markets and making adjustments to suit our own segmentation. And this has become much easier with the growth of digital channels.
But this also means that we're likely to see the same ad but from different markets, with their localised spin either on YouTube or in our social feeds. In Ireland we are well used to this having been served up a daily dosage of UK ads because our proximity to the UK and British TV channels. But it also means that we're being served up badly dubbed TV ads. Is this what we think is likely to sell someone an idea of something?
Is it possible that falling sales for brands like McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Pepsi is partly down to their being a widening gap between people and the global viewpoint of brands? Our politicians and political commentators largely missed the growing dissatisfaction with global neoliberalism and that's what led to our current situation.
In the UK, US and now Italy we've seen the spectacular failings of polling and sometimes it feels, with all the research and demographic breakdowns, we forget that people won't always tell you what they're thinking. This is how we end up being lulled into believing that someone like Donald Trump will never be the President of the United States of America. As an industry we don't want to sleepwalk into that kind of situation. If we continue to push global messaging, is it possible that we will create further feelings of disenfranchisement?
I, for one, think that politics and advertising are quite analogous so could that mean that we need to address how we communicate? People voted as they did because they feel like they're being let down. They feel that the system doesn't know about their problems and that corporations are more important to politicians than they are. Does this mean that similar feelings exist about brands? I don't know the answer. But I do think that it's worth thinking about and posing the question.