Creatives of the world, unite! (Or maybe not)

Grey's worldwide CCO explains how to create an international incident from a global campaign

Oct 16, 2015 09:40:00 AM | Article | Tor Myhren

We just finished a big, huge global campaign for a big, huge client. All our offices around the world were involved, and they added their stereotypical local flavour to the project. When I say "stereotypical," I want to be sensitive to conjuring up "stereotypes." I mean, that would just be insulting. Right?
The idea originated in the US. Well, actually, it was an old idea that came from a tiny developing-world market a couple of years ago, but the American creative team had seen it in the Global Creative Council and claimed it as their own, eventually selling it to the client and forcing it down the throats of the entire network.
The UK office hated the idea and said they could do way better. They changed the brief and totally redid the campaign, stripping out the humor; adding a lot of long copy; and making it very, very earnest. The client didn’t like the changes so the UK pulled out of the project, citing "creative differences with everyone on the planet but themselves."
Brazil eliminated the brand from the work entirely, gave it to a fake pro bono and built the most brilliant case study you’ve ever seen in your frickin’ life. The campaign unofficially saved hundreds of women, children and animals in a small, secret Brazilian village and won 17 gold Lions at Cannes.
Despite the client having no media dollars allocated for print or outdoor, India did a bunch of posters with no copy and big, beautiful illustrations. I can neither confirm nor deny whether the small dot in the lower-right-hand corner was a logo.
There was some sort of protest going on in France, so they were taking the month off.
Singapore created a wicked app. Amazing functionality, intuitive interface, flawless user experience. Unfortunately, it only worked on Singtel prepaid burners, servicing .00001 per cent of the world’s population (mostly criminals).
Canada was on one of the calls … I think.
The planner from China didn’t think the campaign would translate well in their market. Something about it maybe working in Hong Kong but not the mainland. Then something about social media being against the law. Then our office got shut down for a while by the government. Now, I think they’re running a 15-second TV spot with a famous celebrity and sales are up 400 per cent.
The Germans set up frequent conference calls and were impressively prompt on dial-ins. But even the poor sound quality of the German speakerphones couldn’t hide the fact that any progress would be buried in a year-long process of over­analysis and minutiae obsession.
The Japanese team politely nodded and smiled a lot at the idea. The interpreter said they were eager to get started and that they would make it work for the Japanese market. The final video looked like a game show, had a lot of screaming and ended on a strange audio mnemonic. Lo and behold, it worked for the Japanese market.
The Swedes created a long, dark manifesto that featured a lot of snow, a lot of beards and a lot of EDM. An astonishing 94 per cent of Sweden tuned in.
Argentina took the campaign viral with a music video laced with uncomfortable sexual tension and Latina women in beaters and Daisy Dukes. When the client asked if it was on-brand, the creative team was struck with a sudden inability to speak any English at all, responding: "Ahhhh … Sí, sí, sí."
Korea took the whole thing mobile — which, frankly, none of us understood. Including the client. But it’s selling like gangbusters over there.
Spain, Portugal and Greece haven’t been able to afford Wi-Fi in the office for a while, so their activation against the campaign has been spotty at best.
The jury’s out on whether this campaign fails or succeeds, but the Russian planners — all one of them — seem optimistic.
Tor Myhren is worldwide CCO of Grey.
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