Arvind Krishnan
Mar 04, 2014

Global viewpoint from Mumbai

It might not be long before work that originates in India sets the agenda for other markets across the globe, argues the author, writing for Campaign UK

Global viewpoint from Mumbai

"That's great, but it won't work in India."

If you’re a global marketer, chances are you’ve had this thrown at you at some point. You would’ve been told that India is culturally very diverse; that there are many Indias and that the economics of India are different from that of any other market. In short, your global idea won’t work.

You worry about efficiency. And you push for consistency across the globe to ensure a coherent brand that reaches out to a global audience without seeming schizophrenic.

I’ve sat on both sides of the table. More often than not, this is a battle for control. When you move beyond the bravado, you see truth in both sides of the argument.

India is diverse; the economic structure of this market is different. Our cultural operating system is vastly different from that of most other markets.

There was a time in India when work of multinational brands was either mindlessly global or needlessly local. Handling a global brand in India meant you were managing "a format" and tending to adaptations rather than building meaningful, locally relevant conversations with consumers.

On the other hand, the need to deploy a coherent brand across markets is real. The internet has hastened the death of schizophrenic brands and has ushered in an era of universal ideas that can find meaningful expressions locally.

As the market in India matures, some brands have struck the right balance between global consistency and local relevance. You see local expressions of global ideas, global executions with a local flavour and sometimes a two-pronged approach of being global online while local on air and on the ground.

This is reflected in the way global brand teams are structured and organised. The consistency of the brand is not just one team’s problem, nor is local relevance just a local issue. It has become more collaborative. And that’s beginning to reflect on the work.

Google, Red Bull, Coca-Cola and Nike are examples of how global brands are building local affinity in India in different ways. These brands are embracing the local culture and presenting the audience with a truly Indian interpretation of their brand ideas. It’s consistent with the global vision. It’s locally relevant.

And it’s adding a fine international texture to these brands. They’ve ensured that consistency isn’t sacrificed at the altar of relevance, or the other way around. The next inflection point for these global brands could come from India.

Gone are the days when the most surprising, talked-about work in India was reserved for home-grown brands. It might not be long before work that originates in India sets the agenda for other markets across the globe. Who knows, someone would probably then say: "That’s great, but it won’t work?in the UK."

Arvind Krishnan is the managing director at Bartle Bogle Hegarty India

The article first appeared on

Campaign India

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