To Compete Locally, Global Brands Must Adapt

NEW YORK The success of a global brand in a local market hinges largely on the brand’s ability to adapt to local needs and tastes, according to Millward Brown Group CEO Eileen Campbell, who spoke today during an Advertising Week panel discussion on global branding.

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“Cultural relevance is important,” said Campbell. “You need to respect local culture and become part of it.”

As an example, Campbell pointed to Ogilvy & Mather’s “Real Beauty” campaign for Unilever’s Dove, which in Western markets has featured images of everyday women in their underwear. In the Middle East, the concept was modified to simply reveal the face behind a woman’s veil.

Other keys to global brand success include crafting a clear and consistent positioning and having a sense of dynamism and authenticity, said Campbell.

And, of course, the “brand experience” has to be great, she added. Showing a slide of Millward Brown’s top 15 global brands for 2008, Campbell noted that they “tend to have a uni-brand strategy.” The list included Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Google, Citi, Toyota, McDonald’s, Nokia, Apple, IBM, Marlboro and General Electric.

That said, a global brand is “not just a logo, it’s not just a common philosophy,” Campbell said. Rather, such brands “engage with consumers in a way that feels local to them.”

Size, in and of itself, doesn’t always matter. “Being big isn’t necessarily better, and frankly, bigness brings complexity,” Campbell said. And when it comes to devising a marketing approach, “the core human motivations are the things that are going to transcend cultures.”

Also part of the discussion, which was moderated by Brandweek editor Todd Wasserman, was John Weinstock, vice president of marketing for digital appliances at LG Electronics USA, and American Marketing Association chief marketing officer Nancy Costopulos. More than 30 people attended the 45-minute event, which took place this morning at the Paley Center for Media in midtown Manhattan.