Spikes Asia 2016: 'We are experiencing a rise of local sentiment': Prasoon Joshi

McCann's Harris Diamond and Prasoon Joshi, opened Spikes 2016 with a session on local culture'

Sep 21, 2016 03:47:00 AM | Article | Raahil Chopra

Spikes Asia 2016 kicked off on 21 September with a session featuring Harris Diamond, chairman and CEO, McCann Worldgroup, and Prasoon Joshi, the agency's Asia Pacific chairman and chief creative officer, India. The duo spoke about 'Creativity and cultural nuances in an omni-platform' marketing world. 
Diamond took stage first and touched upon findings from a recent McCann Truth Central study
He said, "The research had around 30,000 people from 29 countries. More than half the people surveyed said their greatest fear in a globalised world is the loss of local culture. You as creatives need to use local cultures in creatives to target local people. Today, we have a global distribution model that is overvaluing efficiency at the expense of local relevance. The internet has exposed people to new things, but the world is not flat. Millennials are exposed to the same music and fashion. There's a belief that senior citizens around the world have the same fears. Based on this we used to believe that people were similar. Minor adaptations were made to global strategies for local markets." 
The global CEO then spoke about how times have changed. He said, "We are now seeing the rise of hyper-localisation. Our research has found that there's a growing localist movement. In a world where everything local can be global and everything global can be local, brands have to work harder to get space locally. Today, our creative challenge is that we build local in this omni-channel world. While the industry may have overestimated the impact of the internet in erasing distinctiveness, and underestimated the effectiveness of homogenous campaigns, social media is connecting people across borders. Balancing the needs of these two groups is the challenge."
Joshi said, "We are experiencing a rise of local sentiment. I come from India and have spent a lot of time in China of late too. I'm seeing that. When one encounters the world and its media voice, we are encountering fear. There is an economic fear about jobs. Then there's an emotional fear about identity. Whenever, I visit friends living the UK or USA, they are more Indian than me. They celebrate more festivals than I do. Indians abroad celebrate culture."
Joshi cited the example of Baba Ramdev's Patanjali and its success story in India. Claiming that the company can have a revenue of US$1 billion by 2017, he said that the success came from 'Being Indian and celebrating Indian.' He spoke about how the brand has has grown even though it only started mass communication this year. He said, "The 'anti-foreign' message has helped too. It's a great story."
He went on to explain how MNCs can fit locally appealing content into global frameworks. He said, "There is a fear of the alien, and people want to protect themselves against it. Earlier, the western lifestyle was aspirational. Today's there a lot of communication happening (on the brand). It's more C2C (consumer to consumer) and brands have no control on it. Individuals are putting burden on brands. People want their culture and societies to exist. People are concerned about their identity. If a brand understands their fear and communicates towards that, it will work."
He cited examples of L'Oreal, Line, and Nespresso as examples of how to fit locally appealing content into global frameworks. 
He ended with a film created by McCann India for Happydent, that has made it to the top 20 ads this century according to The Gunn Report. 
He surmised, "This shows global brands can do great work if they understand local culture. When you see an Indian lady in a sari, with a red spot on the forehead, it's supposed to show that the girl is married. A non-Indian will not understand this and could believe that the girl is hurt. This film connected with everyone, and for a reason. It's given a sense of surprise. It shows we can go beyond culture and create something like this."