Exchange: One size does not fit all - the challenges of international campaigns

Our latest Exchange explored the issues surrounding global campaigns.

At this morning's Exchange, our panel of senior communicators, Andrew Brown, Group Communications Director, Regus, Blair Metcalfe, Head of Media and Entertainment, Ogilvy PR and Christina Mills, Director, Group Communications and Reputation, SAB Miller, discussed the challenges of international campaigns.

“If it's not culturally relevant it's just not going to work”

The debate, chaired by Helen Dunne, Editor CorpComms Magazine, opened with the challenge of appealing to audiences across different cultures.

One panel member advised that for an international campaign to work there needs to be a story at the core which is culturally relevant and has an emotional element that audiences can easily identify with. One example demonstrating this is the recent international campaign, the travelling gnome.

TV shows such as Britain's Got Talent and American Idol were also noted as examples where global success can be attributed to a consistent central narrative which works all over the world; "If a TV show isn't culturally relevant to the country it's in, it won't work. It's the same with campaigns".

“Real strength in being seen as local”

The panel agreed that local adaptation of global campaigns is vital. Key advice included always ensuring translations are accurate for different markets and being careful over how your story is being told locally, allowing a level of local freedom whilst remaining consistent. For campaigns, although the content may change, ensure that the overall narrative is the same.

The importance of understanding how you are perceived locally and knowing your customer in a particular area was also advised; "You can learn a lot by spending time with people and gaining local perspectives". Timing was also raised as a potential issue for campaign success: "You have to be aware of mood and sentiment in that particular market".

“It's important to have someone on the ground locally”

One question raised during the debate was how to handle local media. It was agreed that no matter where you are in the world, all journalists want a good story. But whilst at the heart there's no difference, in practice every country can vary, for example the panel touched on potential political bias and media regulations.

The panel agreed that to engage the local media you need to have people on the ground locally - find a local agency, people who have the right connections - and build relationships. "It's good to have a range of different advisors. A lot of it you learn as you go along".

You can read extended coverage of the discussion in the next edition of CorpComms Magazine.

Search article

read about our other exchange events

Exchange: Coping with social media crises
Read more
Exchange: How to navigate the maze of social media platforms
Read more
Exchange: Will ethics and social responsibility become the biggest drivers of corporate reputation?
Read more

Find out more about our Exchange events

Claire Melly
Head of Marketing, UK & Ireland

Call me +44 (0)20 3130 7424