Gokul Krishnamoorthy
Jun 23, 2015

Cannes Lions 2015: Pack right, pack tight... and idea will travel

A session by BBDO on day two delved into why some global campaigns work, while others fail

Cannes Lions 2015: Pack right, pack tight... and idea will travel
There are several global campaigns that have worked well in different markets. But, global ideas still have a reputation for 'lowest common denominator' creativity, observed Mike Schalit, co-founder, net#work BBDO and chief creative, BBDO South Africa. This set the tone for a seminar titled 'Have idea, will travel' on day two of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2015.
Joining him in the discussion were Syl Saller, CMO, Diageo and Lara Valais, head of North America marketing, Visa.
"Think about the movie Fast and Furious 7. It is the third-highest grossing movie of all time. Fast and Furious does well because people from Brazil and India are watching it. Hollywood gets 70 per cent of its revenue internationally. We as marketers need to take a page out off that rule book," noted Balazs, making the case for projecting consistent imagery, tone and feel for a global brand across markets.
Ceding that there were real consumer differences across different markets, Saller quipped, "Even if they aren't, there are marketing teams that will insist there are." She made the case for systematic collaboration in involving multiple stakeholders from across markets, to get a buy-in right at the start.
The case for collaboration
The Diageo marketing head also had a message for agencies: "Sometimes even during pitches, I can tell when different (agency) offices don't agree creatively. (A long time ago) I have even seen a pitch where different offices of the agency decided to pitch against each other. Your systems to collaborate across offices will make a difference."
Asked by Schalit on how one would go about getting a global campaign off the ground, Saller said, "The first thing to do is to start packing. The most important things to pack are your strongest brand assets."
Concurring, Balazs said, "If you are throwing in (to the communication) every message that every country wants, you are not going to stand for anything."    
Beyond functional
Most iconic brands are going beyond simple messaging, noted Saller, by looking at a higher order role in a consumer's life. "Higher purpose can occupy a space that the functional never could. We believe consumers are looking for clarity, authenticity and transparency in what a brand stands for; not the functional benefit," she added.
"People walk to progress," she explained, int he context of Johnnie Walker campaigns over the years since 1990. "When we look at some of the great global campaigns we all admire, they are all rooted in progress," said Saller.
Global insight, local flavour
Citing the example of Guinness from Diageo, which ran a global campaign on the platform Made of More, the marketing head noted that in Africa, the theme was adapted to the local market, as Made of Black.

"Is it inspiring is a question we ask. They were different executions, but born of the same insight," explained Saller.
On why several global ideas fail to cut through in local markets, she responded, "A number of global ideas do fail, because of (choosing to have just) one execution. Some people cite cost as the reason for doing just one execution. If it is not great work, if it is not effective, you are going to lose the money on your media buy."
Offering another perspective, Balazs said, "Ideas and executions can travel globally. Fashion brands have done it. Brands have done it around the Olympics. The truth is we are all humans and humans have brains which respond to stimulus (sic). Biology triumphs geography."
The Visa rep revealed three rules she goes by, substantiating them with examples.
- Storytelling - You're not you when you're hungry


- A lot of dialogue won't work - First Kiss

- Keep it easy to grasp    

Saller surmised, "You have to be smart about when you can do a global execution and when you can't."
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