Going local on a changing ad scene

Newsroom 26/11/2014 | 18:22

Gabriela Nanu, client service director at Centrade Saatchi & Saatchi, tells BR about the shift towards locally developed communication projects and what they mean for both client and agency.

What determines the preference for locally or regionally developed projects? How did the trend emerge?

Our world has changed, but people are still motivated by two instinctive attributes – reason and emotion. Media habits have also changed dramatically, but people still only react to what is relevant to them. So great advertising is what is was always meant to be, not advertising, but inspiration, information, utility and anything that is relevant to people.

Global advertising was brought about by global brands’ need for consistency in communication across countries. Today, the globalization of advertising is largely motivated by international budget “optimization”. This has created a fine balance between maintaining international communication for brand consistency while sometimes ignoring relevant local insights for the sake of cost savings. Marketers need to ask the question: in the long run, is this really optimal?

Consumers don’t have the same access to “behind the scenes”; in their perception, they are not consumers, they are, as stated above, people. As people, they don’t care where, why or for how many countries a campaign is created, they simply find the message relevant or not. So that leaves us with the question: is preference for local or global a matter of choice or a matter of necessity?

What are the advantages, for the client, of a locally developed communication project? At a strategy level, what does it entail?

First of all, it is very important for local talent to be used to the best of its abilities. When things change unpredictably and competition moves very fast, local talent provides autonomy, combining an entrepreneurial spirit that you cannot replicate with an international approach. A more flexible and horizontal system allows quick, relevant feedback from local insights. Simply put, multinationals can no longer afford to try to be perfectionist and control markets from a distance. They need to have troops on the ground.

With globalization putting pressure on cultural identities, and by consequence also on individual identities, the opposite reaction emerges: the need to keep or re-interpret traditional identities from our cultural heritage. So, when speaking about local communication, we don’t refer to the actual location where it is created, but rather talk about communication that is in line with the cultural characteristics of a particular place or even several places in a region. Clients are looking for a quick response, efficient and cost effective communication. Why would they settle for anything less?

Take a global brand story and adapt it to a local personality. Both authenticity and sense of purpose are key to success. People have unlimited, free access to information, they talk to each other, they are now in dialog, they have the choice to talk to your brand or just “block” it from the conversation. It won’t be long until TV advertising becomes yet another choice, so the last big monolog ad channel will also become yet another means of personal expression.

It is real value (relevance) that a brand offers to remain on people’s ever changing “favorites” list. Once you are off the list, it is infinitely more difficult to get back on.

These days, if you are not ahead of the curve, you are in trouble. I don’t believe that enough people are thinking enough about this.

 What do these types of projects generally involve, resource wise (HR, budgets, market research)?

Projects that are developed using local particularities, be it for one or several markets in a region, do not automatically necessitate larger teams. We believe in a process (including budgets) that enables talented marketing people and integrated agencies to think strategically across all relevant markets. We have proven this as a hub for the Balkans for the past ten years.

There is no shortage of local market research. What makes the difference is asking the right questions, digging deeper when many just scratch the surface, going beyond the obvious and having the courage to act upon the right local insights to create a cohesive long-term plan. It is a pity that sometimes these simple steps are completely ignored.

 What recent communication projects has Saatchi developed locally?

Over 90 percent of all our revenue comes from locally produced projects and this is no coincidence, due to clients’ clear strategic intentions and a lot of hard work.

With so many new ways of connecting with consumers, choosing the right path and delivering the right message is the difference between wasting your budget or not.

We have a strong history of successful integrated campaigns. Clients are recognizing the importance of integration as they see the value (and saved time) of meeting one agency that can deal with all their marketing needs.

Milka, Head & Shoulders, Pampers, and VISA are examples of brands that understand that while people trust global brand reputation, they still value uniqueness and what it means to them in their everyday lives. From local endorsements, to improved understanding of product benefits, to changing consumer habits and educating the market, local initiatives have proven to be the underlying factor in bringing concrete results (financial) and brand image on the Romanian market.

Luckily our strategic and creative expertise is put to good use by clients who develop their entire communication locally. Raiffeisen Bank and Rompetrol are just two great examples of businesses that, simply put, cannot be “not local” and do a fantastic job at understanding their customers’ needs.

To conclude, nothing and everything has changed in the world of “glocal” communication and the 21st century will belong to those able to “learn, unlearn, and relearn” as Alvin Toffler eloquently stated. Our world is changing at a dizzying pace. Keeping up with all these changes is our biggest challenge. However, in a competitive environment such as Romania, we feel it brings out the best in our people. So far so good.

Simona Fodor


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